Music

Cooped up at home? Here are 6 cool classical concerts to watch right now

Enrich your alone time by streaming these recent performances by Canadian musicians.

Enrich your alone time by streaming these recent performances by Canadian musicians

Violinist Timothy Chooi won 2nd prize at the 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. (Ryan Brandenberg)

With symphony orchestras, opera companies and chamber music societies cancelling performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with citizens being urged to adopt social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, classical concert life in most parts of Canada has ground to a halt.

It's a troubling situation for performing artists, most of whom are facing a loss of income. A growing movement is urging ticket-holders to donate their tickets, if they can afford to do so, rather than request a refund for cancelled concerts, as a way of alleviating the financial pressure on musicians.

We're hopeful that things will return to normal soon, but until then, the internet provides a temporary solution for classical music lovers. Here are six concerts, recorded during the past year and featuring Canadian classical musicians, that you can stream from home.


Louis Lortie plays Chopin's Études

Last October, pianist Lortie gave an all-Chopin recital at Venice's La Fenice opera house, playing both the Op. 10 and Op. 25 sets of Études. With his robust tone and passionate interpretation, he kept the audience on the edge of their seats.


Timothy Chooi plays Grieg

En route to his second prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels last May, Chooi played Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 3 with pianist Takashi Sato. An assured performance that wowed the crowd with nuanced phrasing and astonishing lyricism.


Against the Grain Theatre presents La bohème in a bar

Last fall, Against the Grain Theatre presented a scaled-down version of Puccini's La bohème. Set in modern times, sung in English by an age-appropriate cast and performed in bars rather than opera houses, this opera on a shoe-string budget caused a sensation on tour stops from Alberta to Ontario. CBC live streamed a performance from Toronto's Tranzac Club.


James Ehnes plays Bruch in Auckland

On May 30, Ehnes was the guest of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra to play Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with conductor Giordano Bellincampi. Stick around for the encore: a masterful rendition of Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 3 for solo violin.


McGill Symphony Orchestra plays Mahler's 5th

Closer to home, the McGill Symphony Orchestra filled Montreal's St. Jean Baptiste Church last March with the heroic strains of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 under the direction of longtime artistic director Alexis Hauser. During the ovation that greets the symphony's finale, principal trumpeter Peixiang Li gets extra applause for his rock-solid solos.


Royal Conservatory of Music's Academy Chamber Orchestra plays Tchaikovsky

The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists is an elite training program at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. From its December 2019 concert at Mazzoleni Hall, the Academy Chamber Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings — without a conductor! — was a highlight.

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