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To Chicago Midwinter via Toronto

February 22nd, 2012

We have friends in Toronto, so if we have to go to the Chicago dental exhibition, why not indeed via one of Canada’s finest cities?

One particular friend, so kindly inviting us to her home for the stay, also booked 2 evenings of very special culture.

The first was a concert at the Royal Conservatory, part of its 125 years celebrations. Wonderful.

Let’s start with the fabulous Koerner Hall. Plenty of images online, but I like showing my own snapshots, legal or not…

The first image is from the stalls, the third is from behind the orchestra, where there are 3 rows of seats. And the middle image is of the extension, across the roof, of the incredible wooden creations, like stretched leaves across the sky, which gives this hall one of the greatest acoustical reputations in the World.

We had the added honour of seeing Leon Fleisher in action. Check this man out on the net. He’s in his early 80s, one of America’s finest musicians. In mid-career, he lost the use of his right hand, and so concentrated on playing pieces specially composed for the left hand – and he started conducting, teaching and becoming known as one of music’s finest spokespersons. More recently, new medicines have helped him play 2-handed again, although last night, he played Prokoviev’s Concerto for Left Hand – then conducted the brilliant young musicians playing Beethoven’s 7th. Very special.

I met the man later (see below). I asked him whether music for the left hand can be played by musicians with just the right hand. ‘Of course no’ was his reply, and I accepted that, because hands are built differently from left to right and vice versa. But I wondered about this later. Yes, the thumb is certainly in a different category to the pinky. But if trained correctly, surely just about anything is possible.

For instance, I eyed the many violins and violas, and all played right-handed (despite surely some of whom were lefties). Can anyone enlighten me?

Our second evening of culture was seeing the Canadian Opera Company’s production of ‘Love from Afar’, by the Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho. I think, unless I’m mistaken, that this is the first opera I have seen by a female composer. And I’m going to go out on a limb here, risking the departure of all my female readers, by saying that I hope this is the last opera I shall see by a female composer.

Visually, it was stunning (these images from Google):

The story is as banal as many operas. The singing was excellent – only 3 roles, baritone, soprano and mezzo. But the music….especially with jet-lag still in effect.

OK, been there, done it. No one can accuse me of being critical of that which I have not experienced..

The Four Seasons Hall is also an architectural speciality…

The ‘atrium’ effect is terrific, and again, as in the Koerner Hall above, an abundance of beautiful wooden effects. And glass. I love glass. I collect and write about glass. So to see people’s soles above us in the opera foyer was OK.

A lot of culture in Toronto.

Smile – Promote your dentist.

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