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Toronto Music Garden in full bloom with free outdoor concerts, dance performances and garden tours

TORONTO, May 2, 2007Summer Music in the Garden showcases an eclectic array of music and dance performances that reflect the exuberance, poetry and fantasy of the Toronto Music Garden, and of Johann Sebastian Bach—the composer who inspired it. From June 24 to September 16, Summer Music in the Garden presents 20 free outdoor concerts and dance performances with over 80 performers, taking place on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. and on most Sundays at 4 p.m. (See page 3 for complete schedule). The popular free guided garden tours return for another season, taking place on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. from June 6 to September 26, and on Thursdays before every concert at 5:30 p.m. from June 28 to September 6. Self-guided audio tours are also available for a nominal fee. (See page 6 for complete garden tour information). Admission to the park and all its programming is free.

The Toronto Music Garden is a City of Toronto park, located on the city’s waterfront at 475 Queens Quay West (on the water’s edge side), between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue. It is wheelchair-accessible and open year-round. For information on the Toronto Music Garden and its current programmes, the public can call 416-974-3000 or visit For information on other City of Toronto parks and gardens, the public can call 416-338-0338 or visit

Summer Music in the Garden is programmed for Harbourfront Centre by Artistic Director, Tamara Bernstein. Toronto Music Garden programmes are produced by Harbourfront Centre in partnership with City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Summer Music in the Garden is made possible through the generosity of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Toronto Culture, and Jim and Margaret Fleck. Guided tours are led by volunteers from the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Summer Music in the Garden 2007 Highlights
The concerts range from medieval music recounting the miracles wrought by the Virgin Mary in A Madre de Deus performed by Montreal’s Ensemble La Rota (August 19) to Arne Nordheim’s Dinosaurus, a contemporary piece for accordion inspired by dinosaurs performed by accordionist Kimberley Pritchard (July 22). The renowned National Youth Orchestra of Canada is sending its brass and percussion sections for a concert of music from the Renaissance to the present (July 15). Enjoy Persian classical music performed by Pirouz Yousefian, master santur (Persian hammer dulcimer) player, with percussionist Farzad Yousefian (July 26). Jeng Yi, the dynamic Korean percussion ensemble makes its Toronto Music Garden debut with Jeng Yi by the Willow Tree (June 28). Our popular string quartet concerts continue, with return visits by the Windermere and Cecilia Quartets (July 12 and August 26 respectively), as well as an exciting new period instrument string quartet from Kitchener-Waterloo (July 19). The sensational Adrienne Cooper flies in from New York to perform contemporary Yiddish songs with pianist-composer Marilyn Lerner (July 29).

Dance Performances
Harbourfront Centre has commissioned renowned Canadian choreographer Julia Sasso to create a dance to the haunting Passacaglia for solo violin by Heinrich Biber (1644-1704). Sasso’s creation will have two performances: the premiere takes place on a concert of 17th-century music featuring baroque violinist Linda Melsted (August 2). A second performance (August 9) presents Sasso’s dance and the Biber in a new context, alongside contemporary improvisations by bass clarinetist Lori Freedman and dancer Julia Sasso. On August 30, Esmeralda Enrique returns with her spectacular flamenco ensemble.

True to Our Roots
And of course, Summer Music in the Garden features music by the presiding spirit of the garden—J.S. Bach. The superb Toronto Symphony Orchestra cellist Winona Zelenka continues her journey through Bach’s Six Suites for solo cello: this year she plays the Suite No 3 in C Major (September 6). A new string quartet from Kitchener opens its concert with excerpts from Bach’s The Art of the Fugue (July 19) in a program called Flights of Fancy: String Quartets Do the Fugue.

From June to December 2007, Generations is part of an ongoing focus on ideas in programming at Harbourfront Centre. (See page 7 for additional information). The Generations focus is perfect for a concert series that takes place in a vibrant garden that was itself “generated” by a piece of music (Bach’s Suite No. 1 for solo cello). This summer’s Toronto Music Garden concerts connect with the Generations concept on many levels: from historical to personal; from musicological to playful.

Check out the next generation of musicians when the National Youth Orchestra of Canada sends its superb brass and percussion players (July 15), and hear how the Baroque fugue popped up, much changed, a generation or two after Bach in the classical string quartet (July 19).

Adrienne Cooper and Marilyn Lerner breathe new life into Yiddish culture on their aptly titled program, New Buds on an Old Tree (July 29). Kimberley Pritchard connects the idea of evolution in biological life to change as a life force in musical composition (July 22).

Linda Melsted performs dazzling 17th-century music “generated” by short, repeating dance tunes; Lori Freedman and Julia Sasso carry that creative energy into the present through new music and dance inspired by one of those pieces (August 2 and 9).

Musical knowledge has often been transmitted from generation to generation within families. Aruna Narayan acquired her mastery of the sarangi from her illustrious father—becoming one of the first women to break into a male tradition; her own son will accompany her on tanpura (July 5).

The large taiko drums we’ll hear played by the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble on August 16 were made from trees planted by the ancestors of Japanese drum makers who in turn are planting trees for their own descendants to turn into drums.

Musical instruments have their family history, too: you can hear the ancestor of the modern piano—the Persian santur—on July 26, and follow the social climb of the French Horn on September 16.

Last but not least: children are welcome at all Toronto Music Garden concerts, of course, but Shoestring Opera’s Magic Flute (July 1) is a perfect way to introduce the youngest generation to the enchantment of opera.

All concerts are approximately one hour long and take place weather permitting. Concerts are cancelled in inclement or rainy weather.

Sunday, June 24 at 4 p.m.
To open the new season in a garden inspired by cello music: a cello ensemble named Lush. Wendy Solomon, Orly Bitov, Amy Laing and Jill Vitols perform a festive program that includes favourites by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Debussy, Albinoni, Piazzolla, and of course J.S. Bach.

Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m.
Jeng Yi by the Willow Tree
Jeng Yi, the dynamic, Toronto-based Korean drum ensemble, makes its Toronto Music Garden debut with traditional and original works for Korean percussion and kayagum, the 12-string zither. They’ll also perform their popular ribbon hat dance.

Sunday, July 1 at 4 p.m.
The Shoestring Magic Flute
Based on Mozart’s famous opera, Shoestring Opera presents the story of Allegra, lost in a dark forest on her way home from school. Enter Papageno, a feathered birdcatcher pursued by a Dragon—and the fun and adventure and glorious singing begin! An ideal child’s introduction to the joy of opera, and fun for the entire family.

Thursday, July 5 at 7 p.m.
An evening with Aruna Narayan
Virtuosity and spirituality; tradition and the excitement of improvisation come together as Aruna Narayan performs classical North Indian ragas on the 40-string sarangi, accompanied by the exciting young tabla player Nitin Mitta, from New York City, and Akshay Kalle, tanpura.

Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m.
Windermere String Quartet
Violinists Rona Goldensher and Geneviève Gilardeau, violist Anthony Rapoport and cellist Laura Jones explore music of light and shadow: Schubert’s darkly dramatic Quartettsatz in C minor and Franz Danzi’s sunny “Figaro” Quartet. Two movements from Beethoven’s Quartet in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 round out the early 19th-century program, performed on period instruments.

Sunday, July 15 at 4 p.m.
No Strings Attached
The brass and percussion sections of the fabulous National Youth Orchestra of Canada bring their youthful enthusiasm and prodigious skills to a program of music from the Renaissance to the present, conducted by Daniel Myssyk.

Thursday, July 19 at 7 p.m.
Flights of Fancy: String Quartets Do the Fugue
Was there life after Bach for the fugue? Hear how Mozart and Beethoven adapted this glorious Baroque form to the classical string quartet, as violinists Linda Melsted and Julie Baumgartel, violist David Rose and cellist Shane Neill perform Mozart’s Quartet in G major K. 387 alongside excerpts from Bach’s Art of the Fugue and Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 59 No. 3—all on period instruments.

Sunday, July 22 at 4 p.m.
Accordionist Kimberley Pritchard contemplates Harbourfront Centre’s Generations focus through music for solo accordion by Arne Nordheim, Torbjörn Lundquist, J.S. Bach, Christos Hatzis and others from around our Earth. “Evolution has been a curious affair,” Pritchard writes: “The more humankind’s intelligence advances, the more our environment disintegrates. Experience how these composers explore the fascinating elements of change through their music.”

Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m.
Naseem: Summer Breezes from Persian court
Pirouz Yousefian and Farzad Yousefian perform classical Persian music and original compositions on the santur (Persian hammer dulcimer) and percussion.

Sunday, July 29 at 4 p.m.
Naye Kveytn af an Altn Boym (New Buds on an Old Tree)
The sensational duo of New York singer Adrienne Cooper and pianist Marilyn Lerner present contemporary Yiddish songs by Frank London, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, Michael Alpert, Marilyn Lerner and others.

Thursday, August 2 at 7 p.m.
Garden Grounds
Enter the fantastic world of the 17th-century composer-virtuoso, as the newly formed Folia—baroque violinist Linda Melsted and friends—performs dazzling music built over “ground basses”—short, repeating dance tunes. The centerpiece of this program is the world premiere of a new choreography by Julia Sasso, commissioned by Harbourfront Centre for the Toronto Music Garden, to Heinrich Biber’s sublime Passacaglia for solo violin. Elsewhere in the concert, Melsted is joined by Boris Medicky, harpsichord, and Shane Neill, baroque cello.

Thursday, August, 9 at 7 p.m.
Biber RePass
Linda Melsted presents an encore performance of Biber’s Passacaglia with choreography by Julia Sasso. (See August 2). This time, inspired by what she has just seen and heard, bass clarinetist extraordinaire Lori Freedman will then carry the visionary spirit of Biber into her own contemporary improvisations, joined by dancer/improviser Julia Sasso.

Sunday, August 12 at 4 p.m.
Signs, Games, Messages and Fantasies
The Rosetta String Trio—violinist Abby Karr, violist Sarah Darling and cellist Kate Bennett Haynes—makes its Toronto debut with music from the 16th to the 21st centuries, from 3-part Renaissance fantasies to György Kurtág's ongoing composition, Signs, Games and Messages, along with vibrant string trios by Beethoven and Gideon Klein.

Thursday, August 16 at 7 p.m.
Thundering Silence
The Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble once again brings its thrilling blend of tradition and innovation to the Toronto Music Garden, with Japanese taiko drums, bamboo flutes and shamisen (three-stringed lute).

Sunday, August 19 at 4 p.m.
A Madre de Deus
From Montreal, the award-winning young medieval quartet Ensemble La Rota presents a colourful program of Spanish songs in praise of the Virgin Mary, including lively dances and rousing pilgrims’ songs from the 13th-century Cantigas de Santa Maria.Sarah Barnes (voice); Tobie Miller (recorder, hurdy gurdy and voice), Esteban LaRotta (lute, harp, voice) and Emilie Brulé (medieval fiddle).

Thursday, August 23 at 7 p.m.
A Mighty Wind
A whole hour of solo baritone saxophone? Not a problem for David Mott, who will surprise, astound and delight the audience’s ears with his own compositions and improvisations.

Sunday, August 26 at 4 p.m.
Cecilia String Quartet
Violinists Sarah Nematallah and Sharon Lee, violist Caitlin Boyle and cellist Rebecca Wenham return to perform Haydn’s first String Quartet (Opus 1 No. 1), Turina’s Serenata for String Quartet and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 9.

Thursday, August 30 at 7 p.m.
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance
Passionate flamenco returns to the Toronto Music Garden with Esmeralda Enrique and her dancers.

Thursday, September 6 at 7 p.m.
Bach at Dusk
In a Toronto Music Garden tradition, Winona Zelenka continues her perusal of Bach’s Six Suites for solo cello. This year she performs the noble and celebratory Suite No. 3 in C Major. Note: this is a short concert lasting approximately 30 minutes, due to early sunset.

Sunday, September 16 at 4 p.m.
The Taming of the Horn
For our season finale, The Horns of Roncesvalles are your amiable guides through the evolution of the French horn, from the forest to the court; from the hunt to the dance. Music by the Marquis de Dampierre, Bernard Heiden, Richard Wagner and more, performed by the French hornists Christopher Gongos, Derek Conrod, Diane Doig and David Haskins.

Guided tours begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays: June 6, 13, 20, 27; July 4, 11, 18, 25; August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; September 5, 12, 19, 26.
Pre-concert guided tours begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays: June 28; July 5, 12, 19, 26; August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; September 6.
The popular garden tours return for another season! Explore the spectacular parade of seasonal blooms while learning about the garden’s unique design and history. The two-acre Toronto Music Garden contains a spectacular array of flowering trees, shrubs and perennials. Visitors are invited to take a free 45-minute walking tour led by Toronto Botanical Garden volunteer guides. Tours start in the west end of the garden in the Prelude section. Self-guided 70-minute audio tours (English only) hosted by Yo-Yo Ma and Julie Moir Messervy are also available for a rental fee of $5 at the Marina Quay West office, 539 Queens Quay West (daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

The Toronto Music Garden is considered by many to be the jewel of the City of Toronto’s park system. The only garden/park in the world known to be directly inspired by a specific piece of music—Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello—it is a unique and magical venue.

The Toronto Music Garden was conceived by internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and designed by Boston landscape architect Julia Moir Messervy. It consists of six contiguous sections, each of which corresponds to one of the six movements of the Bach Suite (Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett and Gigue), poetically reflecting the character and dance style of each movement through landscape and flora.

The Toronto Music Garden opened in 1999; concerts have been held there every summer since 2000. Since 2001 the concerts have been produced by Harbourfront Centre, under the artistic direction of Tamara Bernstein. The garden itself is lovingly maintained by City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, as well as volunteers.

The Toronto Music Garden, located on Queens Quay West at the foot of Spadina Avenue, is easy to reach by public transit. From Spadina Station take the 510 (Union Station) streetcar south. From Union Station take the Harbourfront LRT (509 or 510 streetcar) going west from inside Union Station. Call the Toronto Transit Commission at 416-393-4636 for service information.

Harbourfront Centre bridges the generation gap. What are the defining moments of your generation? How deep are the roots of your family tree? What legacy will you leave? Generations are defined by history, cultural movements and shared experiences. They both divide and unite us. From June to December 2007, Harbourfront Centre is talking about your generation. Generations is part of an ongoing focus on ideas in programming at Harbourfront Centre. Our Lens. Your View


Media Contact:
Linda Liontis

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