In the Media

Musical Toronto blog — Review of Feb 19 Gala

The Aldeburgh Connection‘s 30th anniversary gala at Koerner Hall on Sunday afternoon presented such an overdose of goodness that a regular review would not do it justice.

On stage were 16 fantastic singers, sensitively accompanied by Aldeburgh’s founding co-artistic directors, Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata. There were two hosts introducing a masterfully arranged programme that seamlessly integrated words and music as it moved from theme to theme.

I could list all the names and write of gorgeous individual performances. I could also single out the aptly chosen pieces from the vast art-song repertoire Aldeburgh has covered over three decades.

But stronger than my appreciation for more than two hours of fine musicmaking was pride in the quality of singers and composers that this city has produced over the past generation: Each one could have impressed an audience from any stage anywhere in the world with exceptionally powerful and expressive musicmaking.

Singers like this don’t just happen; they are inspired and taught as children, nurtured and developed as young adults and provided with professional performance opportunities once they are ready to face the world.

At this point in time, all of these elements are present and working together in Toronto. This gala concert served as a powerful reminder that the Aldeburgh Connection has, for 30 years, in many different ways, been central to what makes our musical soil so fertile. Its annual season is a wonderful opportunity for talents young and established to work together, while also helping grow an audience with a love for non-operatic song.

Kudos also to Ralls and Ubukata for commissioning new works, to show that art song is as much a creative as an interpretive art.

On the programme were rich settings by living composers John Beckwith, Derek Holman and John Greer, who contributed the heartwarming closing encore, an excerpt from All Around the Circle, a folksong cycle the Aldeburgh Connection committed to disc in 1995.

The icing on this rich layer cake was the obvious joy and collegiality that radiated from everyone on stage to encompass the whole house in a spirit of shared pleasure.

To mangle a line from “The Heart Mislaid,” the Douglas LePan poem set to music by Holman we heard this afternoon: We all sang in the liquid gamut of song’s imagining.

(The concert was recorded by CBC Radio 2 for a currently scheduled broadcast on In Concert, on April 15.)

John Terauds