Looking over the concert calendar for the remainder of this season, one can't help but be impressed with the extensive variety and tempting quality of performances. It may to be a tough call for concert-goers, so here's my pick of shows that look especially promising.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival starts this weekend and its theme of Nordic musical culture is perfect now that winter has finally arrived. Every night has something appealing, but it's hard to beat any performance by Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston. She will debut composer-in-residence Vincent Ho's work, City Suites: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra on Monday, at 7:30 p.m. in the Centennial Concert Hall. You can catch her again Feb. 1 (same time/place) playing Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason's Bow to String. Sigur Rós fans will want to be there for Kjartan Sveinsson's Credo, sung and played by superb youth choir Prairie Voices and WSO Strings.
Tickets: $25/$10, festival passes ($59-$99) at 949-3999, at www.wso.ca or through Ticketmaster.
The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and Manitoba Opera (MO) have teamed up to present Canadian vocal and instrumental ensemble, The Theatre of Early Music. Incredible countertenor Daniel Taylor will sing and conduct Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at Westminster United Church on Feb. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m.
It's been about four years since Taylor was last here and he never fails to amaze. His lilting, adaptable voice crafts every aria into a piece de résistance. He brings with him a notable cast, including sensitive interpreter, tenor Benjamin Butterfield, pristine-voiced soprano Noemi Kiss, and commanding baritone Alexander Dobson, to name a few.
Tickets: $26.50/$24.50/$7.50. Available at 783-7377, www.themco.ca , 944-8824, www. manitobaopera.mb.ca or at McNally Robinson Booksellers, West End Cultural Centre, Organic Planet Worker Co-op.
The Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society is hosting a concert/fundraising event at 8 p.m., Feb. 11 at the Manitoba Museum Planetarium Auditorium. It's aptly called Guitar Extravaganza Showcase Recital. The audience will be treated to a number of guitarists: Alan Nagelberg, Andrew Erickson, Bobby Knott, Darryl Stoyko, Emily Sabados, Evan Giroux, James Kollar, Jordan Laidlaw, the Manitoba Classical Guitar Duo, Ryszard Tyborowski and the University of Manitoba Classical Guitar Trio. Lots of talent for a modest ticket price.
Tickets: $20/$15/$10 at the door or call 667-5250.
If you have a free afternoon during the week, try one of the Music 'N' Mavens mini-concerts held at the Rady Jewish Community Centre. Following on the heels of the super successful International Cello Festival of Canada held here last summer is Baroque and Renaissance Music arranged for Three Cellos on Feb. 23 from 2-3 p.m. Yuri Hooker, principal cellist with the MCO and WSO and artistic director of the thriving Rosamunde Summer Music Academy will be joined by Minna Rose Chung, professor of cello at U of M and Leanne Zacharias, professor of cello at Brandon University. The program highlights the Jewish experience in Renaissance Italy and Germany.
Tickets: $10, ($6 for centre members,) available at the door or call 477-7510.
American soprano Dawn Upshaw headlines the WSO's Masterworks concerts March 23 and 24. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the greatest voices of our time, singing selections from the gloriously mellow Chants d'Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube. She will also perform Jewish Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov's Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra which she recorded with the Atlanta Symphony.
Flanked by two popular orchestral works -- Debussy's enchanting Printemps and Stravinsky's exhilarating Firebird Suite -- this night looks like a winner.
Tickets: $23 - $87. Call 949-3999 or visit www.wso.ca
Queen of percussionists, Dame Evelyn Glennie has become an annual visitor to Winnipeg and we're glad she has. She'll be on marimba and vibraphone at Westminster United Church with the MCO on April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in a program of original percussion works and fascinating transcriptions only an artist of her calibre could attempt.
She will play Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor with principal cellist, Yuri Hooker, C.P.E. Bach's Flute Concerto in G Major and the world premiere of Montreal composer Michael Oesterle's Kaluza Klein for Vibraphone and Strings. Not to be missed.
Tickets: $26.50/$23.50/$7.50 at 783-7377, McNally Robinson Booksellers, West End Cultural Centre or Organic Planet Worker Co-op or online: www.themco.ca
Camerata Nova (CM) brings a Manitoba hidden treasure to Convocation Hall at the University of Winnipeg for From the Middle Ages to Manitoba on May 11 and 12. Baroque soprano Maria Luz Alvarez heads south from her home in Thompson every now and then, spellbinding audiences with her passionate singing. She joins forces with CM and WSO string players for a program featuring chamber music, arias, a capella choral pieces and more. Ross Brownlee conducts the music of Gabrieli, Byrd, Josquin des Pres, and works by local composers Andrew Balfour and Ken Nichols. It's a packed, ambitious program that's worth a listen.
Tickets: $30/$15 at 918-4547, at the door or McNally Robinson Booksellers.