Luminato 6 reveals musical programme big on headliners, but short on community innovation

The Canadian Children's Opera Company premieres Laura's Cow: The Story of Laura Secord, at the Enwave Theatre, from June 6 to 10 (Michael Cooper photo)

The Luminato festival’s new artistic director, Jorn Weisbrodt, unveiled its sixth season this morning at the Sony Centre with an overview of the big-name events. When all was said and done, it felt to this onlooker like music is being given short shrift.

The marquee musical events are:

  • The Canadian premiere of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s now-classic five-hour operatic piece of musical theatre, Einstein on the Beach, at the Sony Centre from June 8 to 10 (not included on the “ticketed music events” press release);
  • A star-studded concert of songs by the late Kate McGarrigle, led by McGarrigle’s son, Rufus Wainwright, at Massey Hall, on June 15;
  • Two performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (one at Roy Thomson Hall, on June 9, one outside, in David Pecaut Square on closing night, June 17);
  • The premiere of a new opera by Errol Gay and Michael Patrick Albano, Laura’s Cow: The Legend of Laura Secord, by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company at the Enwave Theatre, from June 6 to 10;
  • And an 11-hour marathon of Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Toronto-raised Stewart Goodyear at Koerner Hall, on June 9.

David Pecaut Square is, like last year, the scene of free concerts by big-name artists every night, representing just about every genre of music, starting with opening celebrations headlines by K’Naan, on June 8.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s closing concert there features popular favourites, such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, as well as the premiere of a new commission from Philip Glass, the 2012 Overture.

Given the scope of Luminato, I keep looking for more representatives from Toronto’s incredibly diverse music community to be engaged in the festival, in local venues both conventional and unconventional. Strip away the two opera presentations, and there are only three ticketed concerts on the above list.

I hope there’s more coming.

I love this city and want to celebrate Luminato. I also love Koerner Hall and Beethoven, but I have to shake my head at Goodyear’s  marathon.

The 11 hours are being divided up into three recitals, arranged by compositional chronology, not by the published sequence of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas.

Every few years, a brave pianist comes along who offers to play them over three nights, or a weekend. But, in what feels more like a publicity stunt or a sideshow act than an attempt at showcasing artistry, Goodyear is going to play them all in one day.

He is a technically assured player with stamina to spare, but is a classical concert about seeing whether the artist will physically make it through the Hammerklavier Sonata, or whether he or she will bring some insight to its performance?

There are people who enjoy talking about how many films they can catch in a single day at TIFF, or how many rooms at the Louvre they have sped through between breakfast and lunch. I guess they’ll need to queue up at the Koerner Hall box office soon so they can add another badge of cultural endurance to the list.

Organizers promise that the Luminato website will be up and filled with information in a couple of weeks.

John Terauds


4 thoughts on “Luminato 6 reveals musical programme big on headliners, but short on community innovation

  1. All valid points regarding the Beethoven piano sonata cycle, but I’m interested anyway. It smacks of a publicity stunt to be sure, but if it gets people interested in the works (especially ones they may not have heard) and leads them to check out future performances by other soloists or to investigate recordings, I think it could have some benefits.

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