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Hot Date: Celebrate with Wynton Marsalis

FEBRUARY 23 An impressive assortment of classic and contemporary big band music is on the playlist as the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra swings into Toronto. Touring in honour of co-founder and music director Wynton Marsalis’s 50th birthday, the group is slated to perform selections from the trumpeter’s vast compositional output, such as his Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields, as well as other new works. Of course, the ensemble is also dedicated to preserving the spirit of traditional jazz, through interpretations of tunes by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan and more. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $39.50 to $99.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to buy.

Hot Date: A Milestone for Mozart (and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra)

Jan Lisieki

JANUARY 11 TO 22 The Toronto Symphony Orchestra continues its 90th season by commemorating an even older anniversary—that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth. The ensemble’s annual series of Mozart programming this year highlights two of the composer’s late-period masterworks—his Jupiter Symphony and Requiem—in separate concerts, along with other exemplary pieces and even a “Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage” show for young listeners. Audiences at the January 18, 19 and 22 performances of Requiem are in for an additional treat, as teenage prodigy Jan Lisiecki sits in with the orchestra for Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20. Roy Thomson Hall (January 22 at George Weston Recital Hall), $20 to $145; call 416-598-3375 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Q&A with The Good Lovelies on their Christmas Tour

Get your fill of holiday music with The Good Lovelies.

This Canadian folk group takes the stage at Shenkman Arts Centre on Dec. 13 as part of their special Christmas tour. Where Ottawa editor Misa Kobayashi caught up with The Good Lovelies in advance of their local show to find out about their travel essentials, where they love to eat when they’re in Ottawa, and more.

What’s your favourite activity to do on the road?
Well, we bought some skipping ropes about a year ago. When we get restless, we get out of the car and jump rope for a few minutes. Invariably, we make friends with any young girls that happen to be around. They join in without asking. It’s a way more fun version of the elementary school playground! And we love eating in new places, checking out the local cuisine. Recently we had some incredible Indian food in Northern Ontario in Bruce Mines. Go figure! (more…)

Hot Date: The Music of Woodstock

Relive the era with Classic Albums Live: Woodstock.

Dec. 14. Peace, love, and Woodstock. It was an event that brought people together to enjoy great music. If you experience a pang of nostalgia when you hear melodies by Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, or Janis Joplin, then this show is for you. Classic Albums Live: Woodstock is a tribute event showcasing hand-picked artists who perform the classics. This concert will give people the opportunity to relive a moment that defined a generation and enjoy the timeless tracks that only get better with age.

Hot Dates: What’s Happening for the Holidays

Ho ho holy moly! There’s a lot of festive events going on around town! Musical performances galore, an abundance of stage works, oodles of kid-friendly activities, and of course a plethora of places to cover your gift-giving needs. Have a look at what Toronto has planned this month for holiday-season revellers. (more…)

Hot Dates: 5 for music lovers

  • Finger 11.

    November 18: Canadian rockers Finger Eleven, best know for hits like “One Thing” and “Paralyzer,” perform at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

  • November 26: The Dartmouth Community Concert Association hosts the multi-talented Rhapsody Quintet at Woodlawn United Church. The ensemble performs light classical, salon, musical theatre, movie music, jazz, tango, klezmer and more.
  • November 27: Soft-rock dreamboat James Blunt, best known for “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover,” makes a rare visit to the Halifax Metro Centre.
  • December 4: Performing in Halifax for the first time, the Mastan Group offers an “uplifting, mesmerizing” performance of Persian music.
  • December 9: New Orleans music legend Dr. John (joined by the Lower 911 band) rocks Casino Nova Scotia.

Hot Dates: Editor’s Choice

The Thermals at the Halifax Pop Explosion.

Running from October 18 to 22, the Halifax Pop Explosion is one of Canada’s coolest music festivals. It showcases top indie acts from across the country performing at small venues around the city. Highlights include The Thermals, a collaboration between Amelia Curran and Symphony Nova Scotia, Stars, Thee Oh Sees and many others.

Hot Date: Blink-182


August 28

Their potty-humoured, infectiously campy pop-punk ballads connected with millions of teens in the late ‘90s, who were bored of the boy band-dominated airwaves (their Backstreet Boys-spoofing “All The Small Things” music video was an MTV instant classic). After five years of break-ups, solo projects and even a plane crash, Blink-182’s Mark, Tom and Travis have reunited to record a new album. Hear it, along with their hits, at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Call Ticketmaster, 1-855-985-5000.

Jazz on the Mountain At Whistler

Greg Lowe, Kevin Eubanks and Oliver Jones are all expected to play

Jazz festivals have become a summer staple, and with all the competition to draw in music lovers, talent line ups need to entice. A nice setting doesn’t hurt either. Whistler is hoping that having both of these factors in their favour will draw crowds to their new Jazz on the Mountain At Whistler festival this Labour Day long weekend starting on September 2nd. The festival will feature international names like Spyro Gyra, Oliver Jones, The New Gary Burton Quartet and even that former late night sidekick Kevin Eubanks.

The concerts are spread out across the village, with the ticketed events taking place at the Whistler Olympic Plaza. Tickets start at $65 per day, with family packages also on offer. For those who want something more intimate, there’s brunch at the luxe Bearfoot Bistro with Lorne Lofsky, the jazz guitarist ($49). And to capitalize on the setting, a Mountain Top BBQ is scheduled each evening at the top of Whistler with a rotating menu and performers Ali Milner, Chris Smith and The Night Crawlers.

Organizers hope to make the festival family friendly on this key holiday weekend—they’ve also included a street festival spread about the village geared to the kids, which will include jugglers, acrobats and acoustic musical sets.

Visit whistlerjazzfest.com for schedules and ticketing information. For the Mountain Top BBQ, visit whistlerblackcomb.com for ticketing pricing and information.

Hot Date: Season of Classics

Vienna Piano Trio (photo by Nancy Horowitz)

JULY 19 TO AUGUST 13 The Romantic Era returns during this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival. Pianist Kirill Gerstein kicks off the concert series on July 19 with a program of Beethoven, Liszt and Brahms. On July 21, the Vienna Piano Trio explores the precursors of romantic music. Various venues, $20 to $60; call 416-408-0208 or click here for further details.

Hot Date: Jazz in the East End

JULY 15 TO 24 Summer in this city wouldn’t be complete without the Beaches International Jazz Festival. With Lake Ontario as its backdrop, this annual event features tons of free music, a street party and much more. Featured performers include Carole Pope, Terry Gillespie and Andy Kim. Woodbine Park, Kew Gardens and surrounding area, free; call 416-410-8809 or click here for more information.

Hot Date: Artistic Excellence in Parry Sound

The Charles W. Stockey Centre is one of the region's top performing arts venues

JULY 15 TO AUGUST 7, 2011 Sensational sonics are heralded each summer at the Festival of the Sound. In a concert hall that overlooks the lapping waters and pine-dotted islands of Georgian Bay, this year’s concerts are sure to delight both visitors and locals alike. Get set to be serenaded by the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets, or hear the compositions of Liszt and Paganini. Big band jazz and grand choral masterworks are also part of this season’s impressive lineup. Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, tickets up to $42, some shows free; call 705-746-2410 or click here for showtimes and to buy.