A friend asked me if the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was the only classical group performing a concert series in the GTA. They were surprised to learn about the rich underworld of strange and beautiful music thriving in every corner of our city.

One of the chief joys of living in a noisy, diverse, odd smelling, crowded, untidy city is the abundance of imaginative and risk-taking musical activity practiced here, ranging from Palestrina to Poulenc, Schmelzer to Shostakovich, gamelan to Gregorian chant; lively concerts presented not by the five or six major groups, but by smaller organizations that just need a bit of a boost.

I was asked to develop a list of these groups. The list is long. It was easy to come up with a roll call of my friends who devote many long hours practicing and presenting, but usually suffer from small audiences and financial stress.

Can we ever turn that around? The key might just be getting the word out.

John Terauds can keep you informed about all kinds of classical music events through his blog Musical Toronto . If you subscribe you’ll get concert notices and reviews from him direct to your own email. It’s like getting a free classical music newsletter every week. He doesn’t pull punches either. His reviews are detailed and usually reliable!

Wholenote magazine is another great source for information. They are having a bit of trouble with their online presence today, but hopefully they will be back in action very soon. Wholenote is a serious operation employing a whole community of reviewers, reporters, camera people, editors. It’s also a free publication.

I get most of my concert news from personal contacts who send invites on Facebook. You can click through to that from this page that you are reading right now and “like” all kinds of performing groups. Though Facebook has troubles of its own this week, its ability to connect people is quite stunning.

I’ll be hearing Ensemble Adelphi this Friday night at 8:00pm at St. Vincent de Paul Church , 263 Roncesvalles Avenue. This is another Toronto group that will sing like angels but will suffer from lack of publicity. I’m most impressed that they will sing an obscure motet by the early renaissance composer Robert Fayrfax whose work I have never heard live. So this I am looking forward to.

Only in Toronto!

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6 Responses to Toronto concert scene

  1. Doug MacNaughton says:

    As per your comment on Facebook, I thought I’d mention some of Toronto’s ongoing performances.

    Three groups leap to mind – Talisker Players, who have been around since 1999, present a wonderful series of vocal chamber music interspersed with readings. Their concerts are especially interesting for the way in which they are programmed around a central theme, rather than basing the program on the instrumental/vocal resources in the concert.

    The Musicians in Ordinary centre around the talents of John Edwards, lute & theorbo and Hallie Fishel, soprano, with additional musicians as required. Beautiful programming and great playing.

    And there is also the Windermere Quartet, who specialize in playing the string quartet repertoire on period instruments. Very interesting to hear standard repertoire with new ears.

    Even though you didn’t specifically mention venues, I feel like I have to say something about the Canadian Opera Company’s series of free noon-hour concerts given at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. The variety of performers is remarkable, and the series is outstanding!

    Best wishes as always,

    Doug MacNaughton

  2. Bonnie Booth says:

    Ontario Philharmonic under Maestro Marco Parisotto perform in Koerner Hall – for more information and concert dates check out the OP website

  3. Alexa Wing says:

    Thanks for the post Stephanie! I can’t wait for the Adelphi concert either! See you there.

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Congratulations Alexa and the 12 other singers who performed tonight, and your fearless leader Peter Bishop. The concert was wonderful. All of the singers have such a deep understanding of liturgical music, so there is a layer of commitment beyond the obvious skill and experience you bring to the repertoire. The building (St. Vincent de Paul) is just the perfect venue for you. You must sing another concert soon!

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