Introducing: The Grande pièce symphonique by César Franck

Sainte-Clothilde basilica in Paris inspired César Franck.

The pipe organ has had several lives over its five-century history, the grandest as a symphony orchestra substitute, starting in the second half of the 19th century.

We have a chance to hear a live performance tomorrow of the French composition that heralded this great, golden chapter in the instrument’s history: the Grande pièce symphonique. The 30-minute work will be performed by Simon Walker, one of Toronto’s bright young organ virtuosos, at St James Cathedral, at 1 p.m. Continue reading


American showman organist Carlo Curley dead at 59

Carlo Curley in Leeds a few years ago.

Carlo Curley, an enthusiastic concert organist and born showman, died yesterday at his home in Melton Mowbray, England, less than two weeks shy of his 60th birthday. No cause of death was given. Continue reading

Scarlet, not grey should be the colour of Roy Thomson Hall’s organ

The big pipe organ at Roy Thomson Hall is 30. It had it’s first moment in the spotlight when the new building opened in Sept., 1982, but musicians were busy inside the auditorium over the summer, checking and adjusting the acoustics, so Gabriel Kney’s Opus 95 was already at work.

In my time in Toronto, the instrument has sat desperately underused and underappreciated. Continue reading

Summer music festivals: Highlights for the week of July 23

Violinist Scott St. John is is a busy guest at this week’s instalment of the Toronto Summer Music Festival (Peter Checchia photo).


So far this year, artistic director Douglas McNabney has shown impeccable judgment in his choice of performers for the seventh Toronto Summer Music Festival.

This week, the focus is on great works from the chamber music canon, in various permutations of instruments. There isn’t a dodgy choice in the lot. Continue reading

Tonight: An organ recital by rising star David Enlow at St Thomas’s Church

David Enlow, a former student of Toronto organist John Tuttle’s, performs a solo recital tonight at St Thomas’s Anglican Church on Huron St. It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear a fine musician Tuttle describes as, “among the top performers I have had the privilege to teach.” Continue reading

June 11: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days

Tenor Michael Ciufo sings at Hugh’s Room on Monday night (Jessica Brydson photo).

Welcome to the final instalment of Toronto concert highlights for the season. It will return in September. Continue reading

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). Continue reading