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Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Weekend Roundup: January 13 to 16

Friday: Gaze in awe at The Blue Dragon (photo by Erick Labbe)

Friday, January 13
Follow the story of a Canadian expat in modern-day China and the two women in his life. Now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Mirvish Productions presents The Blue Dragon, a stunningly staged display of drama and dance created by visionary theatre artists Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud.

Three of Disney’s darling princesses visit the Roger’s Centre at Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales. Treat the kids to an evening of magic to see Cinderella, Belle and Snow White – and the princes – and watch their favorite fairy tales unfold on stage.

Be sure to visit the AGO’s Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde exhibition before it closes on Sunday. The colourful works of Marc Chagall and his contemporaries trace a revolution in modern art movement that swept through Russia during the early 1900s.


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.

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.

Weekend Roundup, December 9 to 11

Friday: Relive your Royal Conservatory days through Two Pianos Four Hands

Friday, December 9
Follow along with the melodies made by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, the actor-musicians behind the hit comedy Two Pianos Four Hands, a hilarious and poignant story about two lives transformed by piano teachers, lessons and competitions. The show’s recently extended run continues at the Panasonic Theatre.

Listen to a Latin take on holiday music at Koerner Hall in A Salsa Christmas, performed by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra under the direction of world-renowned pianist, arranger and producer Oscar Hernández.

Get a first look at The Power Plant’s two new exhibitions at their free opening reception. The gallery’s winter exhibits showcase reflections on poignant moments in cultural history by Canadian Stan Douglas and an international collective of young artists.

There’s two more days of merriment after the jump!

Weekend Roundup, November 25 to 27

Friday: Prince brings his little red corvette, purple rain and other colour-coded signifiers to Toronto (photo by Peter Tea)

Friday, November 25
Superstar songwriter and all-around guitar hero Prince brings his perfectly sculpted hair, towering heels, angular suits and golden vocal chords to the Air Canada Centre tonight. The concert kicks off the pop icon’s Welcome 2 Canada tour, his first trek north since 2002.

Nourish your mind, body, and soul, and learn how to live well naturally at the Whole Life Expo. Now in its 25th year, Canada’s largest showcase of eco-friendly lifestyles, natural health, and alternative medicine opens at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Explore the sometimes combative and always creative b-boy lifestyle in Enter the Shadow, the latest show from the Break it Down Dance Company. The dynamic production of hip-hop dance and theatre is presented at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre.

There’s even more on Saturday and Sunday!

Weekend Roundup, November 11 to 13

Friday: Pay tribute to Canada's soldiers on Remembrance Day (photo by Jennyrotten)

Friday, November 11
Take time to remember the sacrifices of veterans and currently serving members of our armed forces at the Remembrance Day ceremony at Toronto’s Old City Hall Cenotaph. The service is slated to include flybys from the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Step up to the mic and contribute your MC skills to the Museum of Indulgence, a multimedia collaboration on display at Harbourfront Centre. The exhibition combines life-sized dioramas with on-site performances to explore the themes of hip-hop stereotypes, excess and indulgence.

Fire-emitting roller skates? Dancers on spinning turntables? A rockin’ song list? Check, check, and check. Alberta Ballet’s acclaimed spectacle Love Lies Bleeding, inspired by and featuring the music of Sir Elton John, is on stage at the Sony Centre.

There’s more action on Saturday and Sunday! Read on!

Weekend Roundup, October 28 to 30

Friday: Contemporary art overwhelms the historic Gladstone Hotel (photo by Samuel Bietenholz)

Friday, October 28
Immerse yourself in everything artistic at the Toronto International Art Fair, a.k.a. Art Toronto. See Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW Art Car, a new site-specific installation by Kent Monkman, plus numerous other exhibiting galleries, presentations and discussions with artists, curators, and collectors. The show runs through to Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Introduce yourself to dozens of new musical and theatrical acts at the Global Cabaret Festival, a weekend-long event at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts that celebrates songs, stories, and ideas with 150 musicians taking part in 44 performances.

Explore the sometimes-chaotic interactions between nature and culture at upArt, the Gladstone Hotel’s annual contemporary art fair. The exhibition runs throughout the weekend with works by local, national, and international artists and collectives.

Saturday: OCADU Celebrates its 135 Anniversary (photo by Thomas Hawk)

Saturday, October 29
Swing by Lavish&Squalor today as the shop opens its new antiques and vintage objets d’art section, and commemorates the occasion with a store-wide sale. Cocktails, snacks and live music round out your shopping experience.

Happy 135th Birthday, OCAD University! The highly regarded school of art and design invites you to join its anniversary festivities, which today include an open house, digital game-making event and an exhibition of acclaimed works by OCADU community members.

Bright colours, spectacular dances and a musical extravaganza reveal India’s cultural diversity in Bharati, the Wonder That is India. Dancers, actors, singers, acrobats, musicians and martial artists are all part of the show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

Sunday: Roy Thomson Hall welcomes The Wizard of Oz

Sunday, October 30
Take the whole family down the yellow brick road, which, strangely enough, leads to Roy Thomson Hall and Oz with Orchestra. Watch the classic film The Wizard of Oz on a giant screen with live accompaniment provided by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The NFL moves north of the border (for a day) with the Bills in Toronto Series coming to the Rogers Centre. The Buffalo Bills look to keep their winning season going as they take on the Washington Redskins.

Rare books, maps, prints, and manuscripts from around the world are on display at the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair. Peruse limited edition, signed volumes, and unusual books of all kinds at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

But wait! There’s More!
As it happens, there are a slew of Halloween-centric activities happening this weekend around the city, too. Check out those bloodcurdling events here. If you dare.

Hot Date: The TSO Scores a Classic

OCTOBER 29 & 30 Follow the yellow brick road
to the Entertainment District, as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, under the conductorship of Emil de Cou, performs and augments the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz while the timeless film plays on screen. In the spirit of the beloved movie, audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favourite character. Roy Thomson Hall, Saturday
8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m., $20 to $105; call 416-872-4255 or visit here for tickets.

Weekend Roundup, October 14 to 16

Friday: Cheer on the Argos as the seek to stop the Stampeders (photo by John Steadman)

Friday, October 14
Watch Chad Owens as he tries to become the first player in pro football history to rack up 3,000 combined yards in back-to-back seasons when the Toronto Argonauts take on the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre.

Hear the sweet stringed sounds of Sinfonia Toronto at their first Masterpiece Concert of the new season at the Glenn Gould Studio. The virtuoso chamber orchestra welcomes pianist Davis Jalbert and trumpeter Guy Few for the show.

Tiptoe around corpses, feel the blood on the walls of a darkened maze, and outrun movie slashers come to life! Screemers, the indoor haunted scream park, takes over the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, September 23 to 25

Friday: See Bryan Baeumler and other design and renovation experts this weekend at the Fall Home Show

Friday, September 23
Pick up tips and tricks for your next home improvement venture at the Fall Home Show. The Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place hosts this year’s weekend-long event where vendors and design experts—including HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler—showcase the latest products in home design.

Let’s go Leafs! Celebrate the return of hockey season with exhibition games at the Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight in exciting pre-season action.

Shop for vintage and independent designs at The Clothing Show held at the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. The three day event features over 300 booths from sample sales to local Canadian designers guaranteed to be a fun shopping experience.

Saturday: Chess the Musical brings '80s music and politics back to the stage

Saturday, September 24
See the critically acclaimed Chess the Musical today at the Princess of Wales Theatre. A world chess competition, a love triangle, and the Cold War are all plot elements in this lively musical, fresh from its sold-out tour of the U.K.

Listen to Emmy-nominated comedian and political commentator Bill Maher at Massey Hall. He is best known for his satirical opinions on current events and his HBO show Real Time.

Enjoy the opening of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra‘s 90th season with special guest Christopher Plummer. The Canadian actor narrates classic Shakespeare accompanied by the TSO at Roy Thompson Hall.

Sunday: Iphigenia in Tauris offers high drama

Sunday, September 25
Broaden your horizons with the Canadian Opera Company‘s rendition of Iphigenia in Tauris. This dramatic opera featuring Susan Graham—the world’s foremost Iphigenia—opens the company’s 61st season.

Laugh at the outrageous Kathy Griffin as she performs a stand-up routine that’s packed with appropriately catty commentary and celebrity gossip. Of course, the self-proclaimed D-List comedienne is an equal opportunity insulter—she readily draws on her own hilarious experiences, too, in her show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

What’s the The Word on The Street? It’s a free festival celebrating literacy by featuring authors, editors, publishers and other exhibitors. As one would expect from such a major book and magazine fair, there is also a wide range of Canadian literature and periodicals for purchase.

Hot Date: Plummer Gives Shakespeare a Voice

Christopher Plummer (photo by Richard Bain)

SEPTEMBER 22 & 24 The Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrates the launch of its 90th season with a special appearance by Christopher Plummer. The legendary Canadian actor delivers a resounding narration of Shakespearean classics with musical accompaniment, including renditions of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, and the world premiere of Larysa Kuzmenko’s composition Behold the Night, which incorporates passages from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Roy Thomson Hall, 7:30 p.m., $49 to $179; call 416-593-4828 or check here for tickets.

Wealth of Nations: Your Guide to Luminato

The all-encompassing Luminato festival bestows the world’s artistic riches on Toronto.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (photo by Johan Persson)

It’s always a bit of a challenge to write about Luminato. Where has been covering this summertime celebration of the arts and creativity since its inception in 2007. Back then, newness was the event’s hook, and a small coterie of marquee stars were easy to pluck from a list of about 100 projects, but we quickly discovered many of Luminato’s smaller happenings, from public art installations to author discussions, were equally deserving of our attention, and that of our culturally astute readers. It proved very difficult to pick and choose.

Luminato continues to grow as it reaches its fifth anniversary. Its sheer scope is perilous for the scribe who would attempt to pare its programming for quick consumption. That same largesse is a boon for eager attendees. More than 150 ticketed and free theatrical and dance productions, concerts, readings and art displays are booked from June 10 to 19, and while it would be impossible to see everything on the schedule, that certainly shouldn’t stop anyone from trying.

As with many arts festivals desirous to share a cultural vision, Luminato carefully selects its programming on the basis of a particular yet broadly interpreted theme. This year, Luminato’s connective tissue is the idea, the tradition, and the many modes of storytelling, reflected foremost in its headline production, One Thousand and One Nights. Created by British director Tim Supple and Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh, and performed in Arabic, French and English (with surtitles), this special commission weaves the enthralling yarns of Shahrazad into an ambitious, two-part drama that comes complete with its own intriguing backstory. Although the show’s rehearsals in Egypt were disrupted by that country’s recent revolution, last-minute accommodations were found in a Moroccan palace—perhaps an even more fitting space in which to craft such an opulent tale. Canadians spin yarns with universal appeal, too, in such on-stage offerings as Tout Comme Elle—an oratorio for 50 voices that delves into the relationship between mothers and daughters—and the provocative Andromache, which frames the Greek myth and 17th-century French play as a tragedy of lust and obsession.