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Massey Hall

Weekend Roundup: February 3 to 5

Friday: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre performs Revelations and more (photo by Christopher Duggan)

Friday, February 3
Witness the legacy of one of the world’s finest choreographers in action when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visits the Sony Centre to perform some of Ailey’s best-loved modern dance pieces, including Revelations.

Explore the movement, folklore and theatrical traditions of Africa with COBA, the Collective of Black Artists, when the group brings traditional dances from Guinea and Senegal to Harbourfront Centre this weekend.

Embrace African culture even more broadly at Harbourfront Centre’s Kuumba festival, which celebrates Black History Month. All manner of family-friendly activities are on offer—from film screenings and dance performances to a fashion workshop and drum exhibit. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 27 to 29

Friday: Get a dinner deal during Winterlicious (photo courtesy of Pangaea)

Friday, January 27
Start the weekend off with a Winterlicious meal as the citywide culinary extravaganza celebrates 10 years of tickling Torontonians’ taste buds. Approximately 175 restaurants are taking part; there are probably a few that aren’t entirely booked up this weekend.

Relive two of the most celebrated records of all time, as Classic Albums Live performs the Beatles’ seminal 1965/66 hits Rubber Soul and Revolver at Massey Hall.

See a real-life mother and son reenact their story of the culture clash between Indian heritage and Canadian lifestyle in Tarragon Theatre’s A Brimful of Asha. Follow Ravi on his trip to the motherland, where his parents decide it’s the perfect time to talk him into an arranged marriage. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 20 to 22

Friday: Clarinetist James Campbell performs with Sinfonia Toronto (photo by Tim Leyes)

Friday, January 20
Start your weekend with a touch of class at Sinfonia Toronto’s Black and White performance at the Glenn Gould Studio. Featuring the talents of Canadian clarinetist James Campbell and Russian pianist Dmitry Gordin, the recital—of chamber works by Shostakovich and Mozart—promises to weave these two exquisite soloists together in a musical dialogue you won’t soon forget.

You won’t be able to sit still as Harbourfront Centre reprises its Dance Ontario Weekend, a three-day extravaganza with dozens of local dancers, choreographers and musicians. Enjoy a heart-pounding spectrum of musical styles—from ballet, to flamenco, to Middle Eastern—both live and on film.

Our beloved Sesame Street muppets are all grown up, and foul-mouthed to boot. Tony Award-winning Avenue Q, the riotous coming-of-age musical comes to the Lower Ossington Theatre, and explores coming-of-age anxieties through such tongue-in-cheek numbers as “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.”


Hot Dates: Counting Down Toronto’s New Year’s Eve-nts

Break out the bubbly. It's New Year's Eve! (photo by Anders Andermark)

Have you noticed more and more places selling calendars these days? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the imminent arrival of 2012. Hang on though, your 2011 calendar can be put to use one last time to jot down your plans for December 31st. Consider the following to fill up that final square:

  • It wouldn’t really feel like New Year’s in Toronto without CityTV’s New Year’s Eve Bash at Nathan Phillips Square. The 27th annual installment of the bash comes complete with fireworks plus performances by Backstreet Boy Howie D and pop songstress Anjulie. (more…)

Hot Date: Dual Hallelujahs

DECEMBER 14, 16, 17, 18 & 19 Lift your spirits with two performances of the Messiah. At Roy Thomson Hall, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs Handel’s oratorio with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, $38 to $107. And for one show only, join in Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir’s joyous Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall, $26 to $43; for both, visit here or call 416-872-4255 for a schedule and to buy.

Holiday Q&A: Tafelmusik Chamber Choir Director Ivars Taurins on Handel’s Messiah

Ivars Taurins in fine fettle as Handel (photo by Gary Beechey)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir‘s joyous holiday concert, the Sing-Along Messiah. Both vocalists and non-singers are welcome to enjoy the show on December 18 at Massey Hall. (The ensemble also offers non-participatory concerts December 14 to 17 at Koerner Hall.) We asked Maestro Handel—er… Choir Director Ivars Taurins—what makes the Sing-Along performance so special, and what audience members can do to tune up their vocal chords should they choose to partake in a few Hallelujahs.

How would you describe baroque music
to the uninitiated?

The word “baroque” was originally used as a derogatory description of art or music which was overly extravagant, irregular, or even bizarre. It comes from the Portuguese word barroco, describing a misshapen pearl. In the twentieth century it has become the respectable term for music from about 1600, when opera was born in Italy, until about 1750, the year of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death. Some of the most often-performed baroque composers include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, and Jean-Philippe Rameau. Baroque music can be at once exuberant and extrovert, or intimate and soulful. To the layperson it is generally more “accessible” than the often turgid, dense style of romantic music, or the esoteric qualities of modern music.

How do you prepare to step into the role of George Frideric Handel?
For the last 25 years, my preparation backstage has been to go over my lines and get back into the role. The inspiration for my script usually hits me less than 48 hours in advance, so read “stressas the underlying backdrop. I have to put on the various elements of the costume enough in advance so that I can get used to feeling suitably rotund, bulky and rather ancient. I start walking around with more of a gait and take off my glasses so that my eyes adjust enough to be able to make out faces by the time of the concert. Once I get into my “fat suit,” there are technicalities that limit my movements and possibilities, so I have to carefully time make-up, dressing, meals, etc., right down to the last minute before I step onto the stage.


Hot Date: Hancock Plays Gershwin

Herbie Hancock

OCTOBER 22 Herbie Hancock brings rhythm and soul to Toronto for a concert paying tribute to another American jazz master—George Gershwin. Accompanied by the Massey Hall Orchestra, Hancock is slated to perform a suite from Porgy and Bess, Gershwin’s masterful Rhapsody in Blue, as well as additional selections for solo piano. Winner of 14 Grammy Awards and numerous other accolades, the jazz legend is known both for his inventive performance style and his respect for the genre’s roots. Expect a show that blends classicism and modernity in equal measure. Massey Hall,
8 p.m., $59.50 to $149.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to reserve.

Weekend Roundup, September 30 to October 2

Friday: Get tips from the experts (like the Cupcake Girls) at the Baking and Sweets Show

Friday, September 30
Learn how to bake like a boss at Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show, opening today at the International Centre. See the latest equipment in the demo kitchen and watch rivalries heat up (pun intended) on the competition stage. Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, “Cupcake Girls” Heather White and Lori Joyce, and The Happy Baker, Erin Bolger, will be at this weekend-long event, too.

Hear two of Canada’s star singers—who just happen to be married to each other—perform live at Massey Hall, as part of this weekend’s Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival. Chantal Kreviazuk performs with a symphony orchestra and a special guest – Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida. (more…)

Hot Date: The Walk of Fame’s Shining Stars

Chantal Kreviazuk

SEPTEMBER 29 & 30 That strip of stars known as Canada’s Walk of Fame is set to enshrine seven more celebrities in granite. Among the icons whose names will be preserved by the Theatre District attraction are actors Sandra Oh and Ryan Reynolds, and comedian Russell Peters. Preceding the October 1 induction ceremony is the second annual Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, featuring music and comedy performances by prominent Canadian artists at Massey Hall. Former Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings kicks things off on September 29, while Chantal Kreviazuk performs with a symphony orchestra on September 30. Call 416-367-9255 or visit here for more information

Hot Date: No Holds Maher’d

SEPTEMBER 24 Emmy-nominated political satirist Bill Maher pulls no punches with his unflinching stand-up act. As on his popular HBO program Real Time, Maher sets his comedic sights on a range of current events and timely topics. Massey Hall, 7 p.m., $39.50 to $69.50; call 1-855-985-5000 or check here to buy.

Weekend Roundup, September 16 to 18

Friday: Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall debut in Noël Coward's Private Lives

Friday, September 16
Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross trade the silver screen for the big stage in the Toronto engagement of Private Lives. This straight-from-London production of Noël Coward’s comedy classic opens tonight at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Discover Ukrainian culture at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival. The event kicks off tonight and runs all weekend in Bloor West Village. Watch dancers and musicians, taste authentic Ukrainian food and drinks, and shop the sidewalk sale.

Cheer on slugger Jose Bautista, rising star Brett Lawrie, and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, as they open a three-game  series against the New York Yankees (and look to spoil the Bronx Bombers’ hopes of another division title).

Saturday: Celebrate the season at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Saturday, September 17
Press some cider, bid on handmade quilts, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride at the 55th Pioneer Festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year’s event celebrates local food and the history of the harvest with fresh-baked pies and a team of volunteers producing 1,000 pounds of sausage throughout the day.

Don your red threads and head over to BMO Field for some Major League Soccer action. See if Torsten Frings and Julian de Guzman can lead Toronto FC to victory against the visiting Colorado Rapids.

Listen to the folk-rock melodies of Wilco at Massey Hall. The Chicago-based band is following up on its 2009 Grammy-nominated, self-titled record with the release of its eighth studio album, The Whole Love, due out later this month.

Sunday: Cheer on the thousands of runners keeping Terry Fox's dream alive (photo by Logantech)

Sunday, September 18
Carry on the legacy and spirit of national hero and support cancer research. Running, walking, and cycling paths of various lengths will be set up at Terry Fox Run sites around the city.

Celebrate “Hangawi,” also known as the Korean Thanksgiving at the Korean Harvest Festival. Concerts, a Korean culture show, and a singing competition are all part of the festivities taking place at Mel Lastman Square in North Toronto.

Polka your way over to Roncesvalles Village for the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Experience the heritage, art, music, and food of Poland, along with a soccer tournament, and film screenings at the Revue cinema.

Hot Date: The Superb Soundtrack of Philip Glass

Philip Glass

SEPTEMBER 17 Open your ears to one of modern classical music’s great composers as the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra performs the film music of Philip Glass. Known for his contrapuntal, structurally repetitive symphonies, operatic works, string quartets and more, Glass is also a three-time Academy Award nominee for his work in motion pictures. Music from one of these lauded movies, The Hours, is a highlight of the orchestra’s program and features pianist Michael Riesman, longtime music director of the Philip Glass Ensemble. The recital also includes Glass’s Symphony no. 3 and his score to the 1931 version of Dracula. Glenn Gould Studio, 8 p.m., $45; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to purchase.