Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents George Frideric Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (December 22, 2017)


Photo Courtesy of Jag Gundu

George Frideric Handel
Born: Halle, now in Germany, Feb 23, 1685
Died: London, United Kingdom, Apr 14, 1759
Composed: 1741

The English oratorio, of which Messiah is arguably the greatest and certainly the most popular specimen, was a genre that Handel single-handedly invented by forging elements from existing types of dramatic and sacred music into a potent synthesis. When his fortunes as an operatic impresario declined in London through the 1730s, Handel increasingly turned his attention to oratorio. In 1741, the same year in which he gave his last Italian opera in London, Handel was invited to produce a season in Dublin, and that summer, he composed Messiah. The libretto was compiled by Charles Jennens, an eccentric but well-connected Englishman with a passion for literature and music. A public rehearsal on April 12, 1742, and the official première the next day drew large and enthusiastic audiences, and earned overwhelmingly positive reviews. In March of the following year, Handel introduced Messiah to London, though not before weathering some controversy instigated by religious authorities and others for whom the very concept of an oratorio—a musical setting of a religious subject intended for public entertainment outside the church—was an improper conflation of sacred and secular. Objections were short-lived, however, and Messiah quickly assumed its place (in the English-speaking world especially) as one of Handel’s most beloved works.

In many ways, Messiah is typical of a Handel oratorio—in its reliance on types of recitative and aria borrowed from opera, for instance, and in its basic structure of three large “acts” divided into smaller “scenes”. But Messiah differs from Handel’s other oratorios in some significant ways. First, it deals directly with the life of Christ—subject matter audiences were not accustomed to seeing in an English theatre. Second, the text, taken directly from the Authorized Version of the Bible, includes no real poetry, only relatively short units of prose. And third, the text is a narrative, not a drama—the story is not dramatized, but observed, related, interpreted, contemplated.
The libretto of Messiah gives almost no attention to Christ’s own words and deeds, preferring to maintain a more cosmic perspective, focusing on God’s redemption of mankind through Christ. Part One deals with Biblical prophecies of the Saviour, and their realization in the incarnation of Christ; Part Two deals with the events of Christ’s Passion and the ultimate triumph of the Second Coming; and Part Three comments on Christ’s role as Saviour.
Program note by Kevin Bazzana

Matthew Halls
Matthew Halls made his TSO début in February 2013. The word “versatile” is an apt description for British conductor Matthew Halls. He first came to prominence as a keyboard player and early music conductor, but Halls is now better known for his dynamic and intelligent work with major symphony orchestras and opera companies, and for his probing and vibrant interpretations of music of all periods.

Karina Gauvin
Karina Gauvin made her TSO début in December 2001. Recognized for her work in the Baroque repertoire, Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin also sings Mahler, Britten, and the music of the late 20th and 21st centuries with equal success. The prestigious distinctions she has received include the title of “Soloist of the Year” awarded by the Communauté internationale des radios publiques de langue française, first prize in the CBC Radio competition for young performers, and the Virginia Parker Prize and Maggie Teyte Memorial Prize in London. In the 2017/18 season, she continues to thrill audiences both in the United States and Canada and also tours widely in Europe.

Krisztina Szabó
Krisztina Szabó made her TSO début in January 2009. This season, Krisztina Szabó makes her Royal Opera House, Covent Garden début in the world première of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence, and she reprises her roles with the Dutch National Opera in 2018.

Frédéric Antoun
Frédéric Antoun made his TSO début in December 2008. Frédéric Antoun was born in Québec and studied at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia.

Joshua Hopkins
Joshua Hopkins made his TSO début in January 2009. Chosen by Opera News as one of 25 artists poised to break out and become a major force in the coming decade, Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins has been hailed as having “a glistening, malleable baritone of exceptional beauty, and…the technique to exploit its full range of expressive possibilities from comic bluster to melting beauty” (Opera Today).

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Noel Edison
Artistic Director
Cynthia Hawkins
Executive Director
Jennifer Min-Young Lee
Associate Conductor

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir made its TSO début in March 1937. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC), Canada’s world renowned large vocal ensemble, performs choral music drawn from five centuries, including grand symphonic masterworks, world premières of new compositions, and rarely heard works. In addition to appearing regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the TMC presents an annual series of subscription concerts and makes other guest appearances.

The TMC presented its first concert on January 15, 1895, as part of Massey Hall’s inaugural season. Since then, the TMC has flourished under the leadership of seven of Canada’s preeminent conductors. Under Noel Edison’s tenure, the Choir has won widespread praise from audiences and critics for its recordings, webcasts, and performances in Toronto, New York, Vienna, and Salzburg, and in Vancouver during the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.


Review: Media Profile’s Holiday Party (December 7, 2017)


Media Profile celebrated their annual holiday party last night and as usual – it was epic! Media Profile prides itself on being an independent, entrepreneurial and tenacious public relations firm. Their communication campaigns are based on a healthy blend of research and imagination. They use all the tools in the toolbox, whether media relations, social media, content creation and marketing etc.. So clearly it was no surprise that their holiday parties resemble who they are and how they work. Think fun, fantastic and guaranteed to go late.
As we made our way through the historic Burroughes Building space which is hipster meets chic. It’s aged brick, high ceilings, swooping arched doorways, NYC elevator shaft and roof top patio – makes you feel welcomed and ready for a good time.
This year we indulged upon Stella Artois and Sixty Six Brix’s maple sugar station as they drizzled the most gorgeous of maple syrup onto a bed of ice hearkening memories at Pioneer Village as a child sitting at a picnic table slurping its sweet syrupy delights. The only difference at the Media Profile Party 40 years later, we now have gourmet cheese wrapped into ice hardened maple syrup like an ensconced sweater with the option of having bacon bits dipped on top like a crown or sea salt. It was a perfect mate to our Stella pints.
The DJ was sure to cloud the air with Cardi B and Robyn mixes as we danced the night away while also saying hello to Jagmeet Singh as he breezed into the space.
The holiday decorations were minimal but celebrated Canadiana and snowy scenes. The holiday lights beamed overhead as we relished our gorgeous cocktails and shared chats with fellow guests.
We took advantage of the photographer/selfie station that came equipped with wooden moustaches and lips that could be used for cheeky shots and then printed up on the tiniest printer you have ever seen as a takeaway bonbonierre.
The Media Profile signature drinks never disappoint. We loved The Baked Apple which consisted of Collingwood Whisky, Apple Cider, Bitters and a dash of cinnamon. Ho ho ho indeed!
Media Profile will always be known as the most crashable holiday party in Toronto. It’s epic in stature, the attention to detail is always on point and most importantly the vibe is consistently friendly, accommodating and authentically warm. Perfectly symbolic of the Media Profile brand and people.
Until December 2018!
Happy Holidays! #MPParty

‘Shadowlands’ Author: William Nicolson (The Acorn Theatre 10/17/17 – 1/7/18) – New York (Fellowship for Performing Arts)


Director: Christa Scott-Reed

Producer: Fellowship for Performing Arts

The Acorn Theatre

10/17/17 – 1/7/18

$75.00 Tickets

About the show:

In its first New York revival, William Nicholson’s award-winning play Shadowlands follows the unlikely and true love story of renowned Oxford scholar and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis and the much younger Joy Davidman, a Jewish-American writer, former Communist and Christian convert.

The smart, brash Joy burst into Lewis’ sedate, middle-aged life and upends it. Lewis is as shocked as anyone to discover that he and Joy have fallen deeply in love – and then almost immediately he must contend with the equally deep pain of losing her when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Full of great humor, and keen insight, the play is a moving portrait of love and loss, faith and doubt, as inspired by Lewis’ own A Grief Observed.

From Fellowship for Performing Arts, the producers of the international hit C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce and C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert, comes the first New York revival of William Nicholson’s Shadowlands the love story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman.



There is something about watching a play in New York that is full all kinds of magic and surprising reflection towards your own inner change. Think of the excitement of getting to the venue, in this case – Theatre Row. Finding your seat and waiting for the curtain to rise for play about C.S Lewis.

‘Shadowlands’ from Author William Nicolson is one of those slow, romantic and feel good plays that are not for the faint of heart. The dialogue is short and sweet but echoing of content far deeper that we can all relate to. A thought of a love affair perhaps long packed away with dusty scholarly books only to be re-opened and experienced like a cleansing waterfall by an unlikely international connection.

The audience inhales in the relationship of Joy as she travels to Oxford to meet Jack (Daniel Gerroll) who is a 50-something bachelor, already famous for the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. A quiet fellow with some strong views on religion, politics and the like. Upon sight of Joy (Robin Abramson, in her New York debut) we see a shift. She comes with her own baggage. A marriage that has broken down and a child in awe of Jack that runs deeper than fields in Narnia.

Their love affair experiences some bumps as the audience witnesses the couple in their confined home space. But we also begin to see a love bloom between two people that could have been a tad unconventional for the time that will make you want to cheer for their success from the front row.

Theatre Row does a wonderful job of building a set design in a space that is convincing, cozy and genuine. We see the actors in costuming that is perfectly curated to the mood and ambiance of the play. The actors work seamlessly in sympatico with one another. Finally with a take away ending that you sense part way through the performance will make more of a game changer than a mere mention on a post card home.

The chemistry between Gerroll and Abramson is warm, kind and compassionate. One can not help and reflect on their own relationships with loved ones through their scene work. Romance aside, ‘Shawdowlands’ exposes the audience to themes of forgiveness, moving forward and cultivating an open mind and heart. ‘Shadowlands’ is a wonderful feel good play as we head into the holiday season to bring family and out of towners for the holidays.

Use code TRSAVE20 at and save 20% off on your tickets! Catch the production before it ends on January 7, 2018 at the Acorn Theatre, Theatre Row.


Theater Row – Acorn Theater

410 W. 42nd St.

Midtown West



Review: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra: ‘Home Alone In Concert’ (December 2, 2017)

Ever since Home Alone appeared, it has held a unique place in the affections of a very broad public. Director Chris Columbus brought a uniquely fresh and innocent approach to this delightful story, and the film has deservedly become a perennial at holiday time.

In a career spanning five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage, and he remains one of North America’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices. He has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including all eight Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, and The Book Thief. His 45-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, and Lincoln.

His contributions to television music include scores for more than 200 television films. Mr. Williams has also composed themes for four Olympic Games. He served as music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra for 14 seasons and remains their Laureate Conductor. He has composed numerous works for the concert stage including two symphonies, and concertos commissioned by many of America’s most prominent orchestras.

Mr. Williams has received five Academy Awards Rand 50 Oscar nominations (making him the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars), seven British Academy Awards, 23 GRAMMYR Awards, four Golden Globes, and five Emmys. In 2003, he received the Olympic Order (the IOC’s highest honour) for his contributions to the Olympic movement. In 2004, he received the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2009 he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US Government.

In 2016, he received the 44th Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute—he first time a composer was honoured with this award. John Williams, composer

Constantine Kitsopoulos: Conductor

Constantine Kitsopoulos made his TSO début in October 2015. Constantine Kitsopoulos has made a name for himself as a conductor whose musical experiences comfortably span the worlds of opera, symphony, musical theatre, and film with live orchestra. He regularly conducts in such venues as Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, and Royal Albert Hall, and has served as music director/conductor for musical theatre productions on Broadway.

The 2017/18 season marks Kitsopoulos’s eighth as Music Director of the Festival of the Arts BOCA where he has worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Chang, the Russian National Orchestra, and many others. He was artistic director of the OK Mozart Festival from 2013 to 2015, and spent eight years as music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra. Kitsopoulos founded Chatham Opera in 2005 and has recently become General Director of the New York Grand Opera. With those two companies, he is developing a series of semi-staged opera productions to be presented in the summer of 2019.

Highlights of recent seasons include appearances with the New York Philharmonic; the Baltimore, Colorado, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Toledo, San Antonio, and San

Francisco symphony orchestras; and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and The New York Pops. Also much in demand as a theatre conductor, both on Broadway and nationwide, Kitsopoulos has been music director and conductor of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway and of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess—the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical revival featuring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis that ran until September 2012. He is co-composer of a new music theatre piece called Temple, based on the life of Temple Grandin, and is in the process of composing a new opera, with a libretto by Evangelia Kingsley, entitled Holy Week.  Kitsopoulos studied conducting with Gustav Meier, Sergiu Comissiona, Semyon Bychkov, and his principal teacher, Vincent La Selva.

The Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir made its TSO début in November 2008. The Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus for this concert is comprised of the Grades 10 and 11 music theatre classes at the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA). The music theatre department, headed by Patricia Warnock, is one of six majors offered at ESA, which is the oldest free standing arts-focused high school in Canada. In the music theatre program, students are involved in intensive “triple threat” training, and gain experience and instruction in voice, drama, dance, and theoretical studies. Every year in the senior grades, they hone their craft with a full-scale musical, in addition to showcase performances. Students from this chorus are also involved in a number of extracurricular ensembles, including SPLASH, ESA’s award-winning show choir; and MusicFest national invitees Chamber Choir, JAMME, and WOCO. This year’s chorus is led by Patricia Warnock with rehearsal accompanist Michael Vieira.



What a tremendous night to start off the holiday season with the musical score of ‘Home Alone In Concert’, conducted by the incomparable Constantine Kitsopoulos, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir. If you were channelling Scrooge when you entered Roy Thomson Hall – that feeling soon left your body.

We might not have a snowy scene outside in the City of Toronto, but the audience was gifted with a well needed laugh amplified with the help of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the undercurrent of holiday music. The fun piece about ‘Home Alone’s’ holiday music is that it is such an ode to holiday classics that never fade and instantly make you feel good.

The audience was a wonderful mix of children, young couples and adults. The Toronto Symphony hosted such a warm and wonderful afternoon with a huge scene to watch ‘Home Alone’ on, yummy snacks for all and drinks to keep your cheeks rosy.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra never fails in providing the emotion when marrying their work into these very successful film events. One can not help but dwell on their arrangement in between emotional scenes for example when Kevin is on his own and partying it up at home or when his mother is on transit back to him from Paris.  A truly joyous experience as we head into a busy holiday time when it comes to reflection.

With the addition of The Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir, the youth provided an added lovely texture to the film. During the pivotal scene where Kevin speaks to Mr. Green in the church and their mutual loneliness, the audience was able to really feel the infusion of the holidays into our hearts.  Comfort and good tidings shone through the screen and the audience felt it in our pores as the youngsters sang their piece with so much glory with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra carrying the audience to the end of the film.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has some more amazing HOLIDAY programming in the weeks ahead. Be sure to gab tickets and get fully immersed in the holiday season.  I encourage you to check out their Messiah performances in the later part of December.

Happy Holidays!