February & March 2013 Concerts at the Royal Conservatory Toronto

From a media release:


• Debuts by Meow Meow, Milton Nascimento, Poncho Sanchez, and Christian Scott
• Four Fabulous Pianists: Louis Lortie Returns, Hélène Mercier Makes Her Koerner Hall Debut, and Jan Lisiecki and Jonathan Biss Make Their Toronto Recital Debuts
• The Glenn Gould School Opera Presents Mozart's Don Giovanni
• Amici Chamber Ensemble Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Isabel Bayrakdarian

TORONTO - Four internationally renowned artists are making Koerner Hall debuts in late winter at The Royal Conservatory. Comedic kamikaze cabaret care of Meow Meow on February 2 gets things rolling as the diva "blends performance art, cabaret, and pop culture into a style that defies labeling," (Preview Magazine), and "drags cabaret kicking and screaming into the 21st century," according to Time Out New York. The ¡Qué Rica Cuba!  and TD Jazz Series: Devoted to Dizzy series continue on March 9 with the Koerner Hall debuts of Grammy Award-winning conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez with his Latin Jazz Band and the 2010 Edison Award winner for Best International Jazz Artist, trumpeter Christian Scott. The artists commemorate the 1947 Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo revolutionary recording, Cubano Be, Cubano Bop.

The Invesco Piano Series continues with four exceptional pianists. Louis Lortie returns to Koerner Hall for the third time on February 3 in a concert that is also part of the Montréal á Toronto concert series. On this occasion, he is joined by fellow French Canadian pianist Hélène Mercier in a concert of 4-hand and 2 piano works, following the critical successes of their joint recordings. The first part of the program, titled One Piano/Four Hands, includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Andante and Variations in G Major, K.501; Franz Schubert's Fantasy in F Minor, D.940 (Op. posth. 103) ; and Maurice Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole, while Part Two: Two Pianos, consists of Sergei Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, Op. 45 and Franz Liszt's Reminiscences de Don Juan, S. 656. Rising international sensation, the 17-year-old Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, who is currently studying at The Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould School, presents an all Fryderyk Chopin Program consisting of 12 Etudes, Op. 10 and Op. 25 on March 3. Lisiecki will also be recording this same program in Koerner Hall for his upcoming Deutsche Grammophon release. Third generation in a family of musicians, award-winning American pianist Jonathan Biss is recognized for his artistry, musical intelligence, and deeply felt interpretations of a wide range of repertoire. In his Koerner Hall debut on March 24, Biss plays Robert Schumann's  Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 interspersed with selections from Leoš Janáček's On the Overgrown Path; Alban Berg's Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1; and Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6. Mr. Biss will also give a post-concert lecture on his recital program.

The Glenn Gould School students figure prominently in February and March at Koerner Hall. Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus returns to conduct the Royal Conservatory Orchestra on February 15 in a repertoire of Georg Friedrich Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major. The concert will be preceded by a prelude recital in Koerner Hall at 6:45 and will feature performances by students and faculty of The Glenn Gould School. The Glenn Gould School Opera presents their annual mainstage opera on March 20 and 22. This year, Uri Mayer conducts Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni, considered by many to be the greatest opera ever written. This production is set in the 1960s and is inspired by the TV hit show Mad Men. Ashlie Corcoran directs the members of the youthful cast consisting of Diego Catala in the title role, Jonathon Kirby as Leporello, Alexandra Leblanc as Donna Anna, Raymond Acolas as Il Commendatore, Justin Stolz as Don Ottavio, Heather Kozak as Donna Elvira, Beste Kalender as Zerlina, and Tristan Jones as Masetto. The rest of the production team includes Brahm Goldhamer (artistic director), Camellia Koo (set and costume design), and Kimberly Purtell (lighting design).

The Amici Chamber Ensemble (Serouj Kradjian on piano, David Hetherington on cello, and Joaquin Valdepeñas on clarinet) celebrates its 25th anniversary on March 1 with special guests such as The Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould School alumna, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, as well as The School's faculty members Marie Bérard (violin), Barry Shiffman (viola), Jeffrey Beecher (bass), Sarah Jeffrey (oboe), Michael Sweeney (bassoon), Neil Deland (horn), and Andrew McCandless (trumpet). Their program, which will also include special guests Jonathan Crow (violin) and Beverley Johnston (percussion), consists of Ludwig van Beethoven's Septet for Strings and Woodwinds in E-flat Major, Op. 20, Ernest Chausson's Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37, Francis Poulenc's Le bal masqué, FP 60, and Xavier Montsalvatge's Cinco canciones negras, arranged by Serouj Kradjian.

The Conservatory Theatre will once again be the setting for the popular Bluebird North series on February 23. During these entertaining evenings, top Canadian songwriters come together with host Blair Packham to perform their music and tell us about the inspiration, the songwriting process, and the stories behind the songs. Participating singers/songwriters will be announced soon. Bluebird North is presented in partnership with the Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.). The S.A.C. gratefully acknowledges the support of The SOCAN Foundation and the Government of Canada through the Creators' Assistance Component of the Canada Music Fund.

Four performances in Mazzoleni Concert Hall, located in historic Ihnatowycz Hall, include An Afternoon of Brass with Toronto Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn Christopher Gongos, joined by fellow colleagues Andrew McCandless (TSO Principal Trumpet), Gordon Wolfe (TSO Principal Trombone), guest pianist Vanessa Lee, and the top Glenn Gould School brass students in a recital featuring sonatas, trios, and brass ensemble pieces (such as the Triple Concerto for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone by Anthony Plog) on February 24; on March 5, the twice Grammy Award nominated ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory) perform a program of Paul Ben-Haim's Clarinet Quintet, Op. 31a, Szymon Laks's Piano Quintet on Popular Polish Themes, and Mieczysław Weinberg: Piano Quintet, Op. 18, which they will later present in their debut performance at London's prestigious Wigmore Hall; Cecilia String Quartet, the top prizewinners of two of the world's most respected international music competitions - Calgary's Honens International Piano Competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition, is joined by pianist Georgy Tchaidze on March 23 in a program that includes César Franck’s Piano Quintet; and The Glenn Gould School Vocal Showcase on February 2 features The School's talented voice students in an evening of art songs and opera arias.

February & March Performances at The Royal Conservatory

The Glenn Gould School Vocal Showcase (Discovery Series): Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 7:30pm (MCH); $15
Meow Meow (Cabaret): Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 8pm (KH); starting at $28
Louis Lortie & Hélène Mercier (Montréal á Toronto Series, Invesco Piano Series): Sun., Feb. 3, 2013 at 3pm (KH); starting at $45
Royal Conservatory Orchestra with Johannes Debus (Orchestra): Fri., February 15, 2013 at 8pm (KH); starting at $25
Bluebird North (Music Mix, Pop, Folk): Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8pm (CT); $25
An Afternoon of Brass (Mazzoleni Masters): Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 2pm (MCH); $32
Amici Chamber Ensemble with Isabel Bayrakdarian (Chamber Music): Friday, March 1, 2013 at 8pm (KH); starting at $40
Jan Lisiecki (Invesco Piano Series): Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 3pm (KH); starting at $25
ARC Ensemble (Mazzoleni Masters): Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:30pm (MCH); $32
Cubano Be, Cubano Bop ( ¡Qué Rica Cuba! , TD Jazz Series: Devoted to Dizzy): Sat., Mar. 9, 2013 at 8pm (KH); starting at $30
The Glenn Gould School Opera: Don Giovanni: Wednesday, March 20 & Friday, March 22, 2013 at 7pm (KH); starting at $25
Cecilia String Quartet with Georgy Tchaidze, piano (Mazzoleni Masters): Sat., Mar. 23, 2013 at 7:30pm (MCH); $32
Jonathan Biss (Invesco Piano Series): Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 3pm (KH); starting at $30
KH: Koerner Hall; MCH: Mazzoleni Concert Hall; CT: Conservatory Theatre

• Tickets are available online at www.performance.rcmusic.ca, by calling 416.408.0208, or in person at the Weston Family Box Office