Claude Debussy at 150: We take his musical revolution for granted

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy, one of Western music’s revolutionaries.

As with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.

The long view is so sleek and seductive that listeners long ago began taking Debussy’s art for granted.

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Opera review: A clever blend of Baroque and modern in A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel

Emily Atkinson as Teresa in Volcano Theatre and Classical Music Consort production of A Synonym for Love at the Gladstone Hotel (John Lauener photo).

Take something like an opera, give it something like a staging across four floors of a Victorian hotel, and you either have a treat or a disaster on your hands.

Fortunately for the clever troupe of singers, actors and orchestra musicians having the dramatic time of their lives at the Gladstone Hotel until Aug. 31, their modern English adaptation of George Frideric Handel’s 1707 cantata Clori, Trisi e Fileno, renamed A Synonym for Love, is an unqualified success. Continue reading

Il Divo puts Atlanta Symphony on stage but pipes pre-recorded music to audience

Those orchestra players lost in the crimson dusk behind Il Divo may look like they’re playing — but it’s highly likely they’re just part of the stage dressing.

Organisers of male popera quartet Il Divo’s current world tour hired the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for their concert at Encore Park last Sunday — then used pre-recorded tracks as the musicians played in the background. Continue reading

An all-Bach weekend in Stratford for Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Canada’s Daniel Taylor sings with Tafelmusik in Stratford on Sunday afternoon.

This year’s expanded Stratford Summer Music festival includes the local d├ębut of Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra on Saturday and Sunday at St Andrew’s Church. Continue reading

An operatic synonym for bittersweet at the Gladstone Hotel

Scott Belluz and Tracy Smith Bessette in Ross Manson and Ashiq Aziz’s A Synonym for Love, adapted from an opera by George Frideric Handel, at the Gladstone Hotel (John Terauds iPhone photo).

The performing arts are an ecosystem where birth and death are forever locked in a passionate tango. The year’s most fascinating operatic gambit — coming to life at the Gladstone Hotel Sunday through Aug. 31 — is a case in point. Continue reading

Cellist finds vein of lucre in the ugly rock face of free music streaming

People in the music business make such a fuss about streaming and file sharing that we don’t often hear about artists who see free listening as just another sales tool. Continue reading

Flying acrylic discs are history as last of Roy Thomson Hall’s sister buildings unveils acoustic makeover

Melbourne’s 1982 symphony hall has lost its Casavant pipe organ along with Theodore Schultz’s acrylic discs as part of a massive renovation project.

Melbourne, Australia’s Hamer Hall, whose acoustics were engineered by the same guy as Roy Thomson Hall’s, has reopened its doors to a fresh, vibrant new sound. Continue reading