Classical Music

WHO’S WHO | Metropolitan Resurrects Neglected Masterwork


Historic downtown church’s Music at Met launches multiple joint ventures this spring; revives G.F. Handel’s rarely-performed Brockes Passion; and continues to celebrate musical and visual arts indoors and outdoors, in the heart of the city.

Music at the Met’s Spring 2023 season puts the spotlight on young artists and unites multiple arts organizations to enrich the cultural life of our city. In and around the celebrated Gothic Revival church at the corner of Queen and Church Streets, envisioned to be Canada’s “Cathedral of Methodism,” a feast for the ear and eye is on offer every day.

Minister of Music Jonathan Oldengarm writes:

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many arts organizations are struggling to regain their footing. At the same time, the rising cost of living and the dearth of social services is making life difficult for many people. More than ever, we need beauty and quietness. We are delighted to offer a diverse series of nearly 30 freewill-donation or nominal-cost concerts and arts events this spring alone. We are a place where young artists can hone their skills, established artists can share a lifetime of experience, and where anyone, regardless of wealth or creed, can come and be immersed in sacred beauty.”

Here’s what’s coming up:

Every Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. (carillon prelude at 10:30, organ prelude at 10:45) Great sacred music figures prominently in worship services, presented by the Met Choir, Choristers, Great Heart youth ensemble, Metropolitan Silver Band, Metropolitan Handbell Choir, and on Canada’s largest pipe organ.

Noon at Met: every Thursday, from February 2 until June 29, from 12:00 to 12:45 p.m.

In partnership with the Glenn Gould School and the U of T Faculty of Music, a mix of young rising stars and established artists present informal midday concerts, in person and online here. Beginning in May, each concert is preceded by a 30-minute carillon recital.

Sunday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m.: The singers and instrumentalists of the Trinity Bach Project, led by Jonathan Oldengarm, present Bach’s Cantata 23 and motet Singet dem Herren, BWV 225, as well as Brahms’ Geistliches Lied and other masterworks. Freewill donation requested.

Good Friday, Apr. 7 at 7:30 p.m.: The Met Festival Choir and period-instrument orchestra present G.F. Handel’s rarely-heard Brockes Passion. Soloists include Evangelist Michael Colvin, soprano Jaqueline Woodley, and bass Geoffrey Sirett; Jonathan Oldengarm, direction and continuo. Pre-concert discussion of the work by Jonathan Oldengarm at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $30/$15 here. Presented in person and online.

Sunday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m. A Hymn Festival, with massed choirs, organ and piano, and a brass quintet from the Metropolitan Silver Band, presented in partnership with The Hymn Society, Music United, and the Choir of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. Stirring arrangements of classic and new hymns for all to sing; choral favourites and more. Freewill donation requested.

Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Various events, as part of Doors Open Toronto. Visual arts exhibits; tours of one of Canada’s largest collections of McCausland stained glass windows; demonstrations of Canada’s largest pipe organ and the historic 54-bell carillon; and more.

Wednesday, June 21 at 8:00 p.m. As part of Pride Toronto, The Elora Singers present Craig Hella Johnson’s powerful oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard. In October of 1998, Shepard, a young gay university student, was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in a lonely field. Composer Johnson writes: “This story holds so many layers of meaning and raises many questions. Surprisingly and remarkably, although remembering the suffering of Matthew Shepard can be intense and very dark, I continue to also experience a call to the inner light which this story profoundly transmits.” Tickets through here.

Thursday, June 22 and 29, from 12:00 to 12:45 p.m.: Summer Carillon Festival Recitals, featuring the restored 54-bell Massey-Drury Carillon played by guest artists from Belgium and the US.

Sunday, July 2 at 8:00 p.m. Gala Opening Recital of the National Convention of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, featuring international star organist Nathan Laube. Tickets are available here. Preceded at 7:00 p.m. by a carillon recital, played by Met Carillonneur Roy Lee.

About the Metropolitan United Church:

Metropolitan United Church is in the heart of Toronto, welcoming a diverse congregation drawn from across the city. A 200-year history is complemented by a progressive vision of the future. Home to the largest pipe organ in Canada, the church maintains an esteemed music programme and is recognized for a breadth of outreach initiatives serving the downtown community.

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