June 4: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days

That Choir releases its first album on Monday (Brian Telzerow photo).


  • That Choir album release concert at St Patrick’s Church, 141 McCaul St, 8 p.m.

Newfoundland-bred actor/singer/conductor Craig Pike’s hip Toronto group of two-dozen a cappella choristers is not strictly about classical music. Their quality and balance of the sound is impressive. Regular admission is $20 ($15 for seniors and arts workers, $5 for students).

Here are two selections from the album. The first is Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of U2’s “MLK”; the second is Mark Murphy’s setting of “Be Merciful Unto Me”:


Diane Bish plays at Metropolitan United, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Organist Diane Bish at Metropolitan United Church, 6:30 p.m.

The Organix 12 festival concludes with a flourish in the company of the grand, be-sparkled, golden-pumped American queen of the King of Instruments. Diane Bish is still going strong at age 71, bringing a programme of festal favourites to the big organ at Metropolitan United Church. Since she has spent her life broadening the instruments repertoire, the bill includes some of her own transcriptions and creations, including a sprawling set of variations on the hymn tune “Lasst uns Erfreuen”

For details and tickets, click here.

Here are some highlights from Bish’s Lasst un Erfreuen confection, from the Julia Thompson Smith Organ of First Presbyterian Church in Naples, Florida:


  • Pianist Jonathan Biss with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m.

Jonathan Biss is widely respected for his serious and sensitive approach to the core piano repertoire — which he should be able to show off nicely in Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The programme, conducted by music director Peter Oundjian, also includes the Symphony No. 11 by Dmitri Shostakovich (which the TSO will perform without Biss at its late-night contribution to Luminato’s opening weekend, on Saturday at 10:30 p.m.)

I’ll have more on Biss tomorrow.

For details and tickets, click here.


  • The Canadian Children’s Opera Company premiere of Laura’s Cow at the Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront, 7:30 p.m.

The Canadian Children’s Opera Company ( Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus) has a long history of commissioning new work. This year’s premiere is inspired by War of 1812 heroine Laura Secord. The made-in-Toronto opera is by composer Errol Gay and librettist Michael Patrick Albano.

I’ll have more on this later in the week.

For details and tickets, click here.


A scene from Einstein on the Beach at London’s Barbican, last month.

  • Canadian premiere of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach at the Sony Centre, 6 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)

Most people call this 260-minute piece of performance art (chosen by Luminato as one of its banner shows this year) an opera, but it’s not. It is far more appropriate to call this 36-year-old work a multi-disciplinary meditation on the nature of genius and our insignificant little place in the universe, underscored by obsessive-compulsive music.

Since there’s no intermission, and no traditional narrative flow, the audience can leave and re-enter the theatre at will. I’ll be curious to see how that works out on opening night, given how difficult it is to exit from a seat in the middle of a row without upsetting everyone within toe-stepping distance.

For details and tickets, click here.

Here’s the official trailer:


  • All-day chant workshops at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, culminating with a concert at 8 p.m.

Here is the perfect antidote to the flash, hype and noise of modern urban life — the anti-Luminato of the spirit. Organised by organist-composer-conductor-teacher Stephanie Martin, the day begins with a 10 a.m. Mass, followed by a series of workshops on the art of singing chant with the Ritual Choir of the Church of St Mary Magdalene and Schola Magdalena. The evening concert includes those two groups, as well as the Gallery Choir.

So many people enjoy the sound and gentle rhythm of chant. This is a rare opportunity to get right inside it and learn its secrets in an open, unintimidating environment.

For a bit more information, click here.

Here is a Bravo!FACT video made by Daniel Hill of Schola Magdalena singing an Alleluia, by Stephanie Martin:


Interior of the Sharon Temple (John Terauds photo).

  • Cellist Winona Zelenka plays Bach at the Sharon Temple, 2 p.m.

This week, the Don Valley Parkway will be open for smooth sailing up to Sharon (which is a few minutes beyond the top of Hwy 404 at Green Line) to hear Toronto Symphony Orchestra cellist Winona Zelenka perform J.S. Bach’s Suites Nos 1, 3 and 6 for unaccompanied cello.

The Temple is a thing of beauty in and of itself. Zelenka’s artistry and Bach’s genius added in should make for a memorable experience.

For details and tickets, click here.

Here is Zelenka playing the Prelude to Suite No. 6:

John Terauds


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