Tafelmusik: A Celebration of Jeanne Lamon
We're not really saying goodbye to Jeanne Lamon this year, although she is officially stepping down as the music director of the ensemble she has more or less built from scratch into one of the world's finest baroque orchestras. Her successor won't be chosen for a year or so, and she'll still be an integral part of Tafelmusik's educational efforts. But her last concert as music director should be an emotional affair, with music selected by Tafelmusik's insanely dedicated audience, arrangements made for Lamon by members of her orchestra and music she has picked specifically for her last hurrah. A chance for a community to say thank you to one of its brightest musical luminaries. Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, May 8 through 11, 14. George Weston Recital Hall, May 13.
Royal Conservatory: 21C Music Festival
Through no fault of their own, the good programming folks at the Royal Conservatory of Music often fall just under the radar in the classical music world in Toronto. No longer. Their gutsy, eight-concert festival devoted to the music of today makes quite a statement about their desire to be at the forefront of concert life in the city. With 12 world premieres (including four commissions, appearances by artists as diverse as famed pianist Marc-André Hamelin, Chilly Gonzales, Eve Egoyan and the ARC Ensemble, and music by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Louis Andriessen and Christos Hatzis), the festival has the makings of a major cultural event. New music means so many different things today. The 21C Festival aims to explore most of them in one go. Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. W., Koerner Hall, Mazzoleni Concert Hall, May 21 through 25.
Amici Chamber Ensemble: American Berserk
The fine trio of clarinettist Joaquin Valdepenas, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Serouj Kradjian is joined by Toronto Symphony Orchestra members Jonathan Crow and Teng Li and violinist Barry Shiffman in music by three great U.S. composers: Charles Ives, John Adams and John Corigliano. Adams was just here for the TSO's New Creations Festival, we heard Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 when Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic came to town, but this chamber concert will give us each composer at his most creative. The 20th-century United States from its iconoclastic beginnings in Ives through to its contemporary presence with Adams and Corigliano, this is a history lesson in sound. Telus Centre, Mazzoleni Concert Hall, May 4.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Hélène Grimaud
We get our pick of internationally acclaimed soloists performing here in Toronto, so yet another one might be no big deal. But Grimaud is a special artist. Known for her association and love of wolves, her writing and her work in human rights, Grimaud is primarily a fine musician. Connected for so long with French repertoire, Grimaud has always had a special place in her heart for the knotty, tortured, knuckle-busting Brahms piano concertos. She plays them both with purity and grace, but her interpretation of No. 1 is especially lyrical and surprising. Music by Olivier Messiaen and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov are also on this interesting TSO program, with Andrey Boreyko conducting. Roy Thomson Hall, April 17, 19.
TSO: Songs for Soprano
Just in case you didn't get enough of Sondra Radvanofsky's creamy soprano in the Canadian Opera Company's Roberto Devereux, she's featured as well in this TSO concert singing the glorious Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss. A wunderkind before the turn of the 20th century, an avant-garde composer who scandalized Europe in the decade before the First World War, Strauss in the 1940s looked back on a country and a culture that had gone seriously awry, and produced this late, autumnal masterpiece. Paired with the luminescent Daphnis and Chloé suites of Maurice Ravel, this might be a TSO concert to long remember. Roy Thomson Hall, June 5, 7