Now that the arts season is officially winding down for another year – and we’re in that delightful lull before the summer gigs and festivals ramp up – it’s time to reflect on the many memorable performances we’ve had on privilege to hear this year during these “New Normal Times”. Notably, the 2021-22 season also welcomed many artists and organizations sidelined over the past two years to the stage, as well as “finally” concerts that had lain fallow pending the easing of public health restrictions.
10 outstanding performances (listed in chronological order):
1. WSO (A)bsolute Classics: Stewart Goodyear and Grieg (Oct. 2)
A full cohort of 60 musicians triumphantly returned to the stage for the first time since the First Wave lockdown in March 2020 with the evening described by its clearly emotional maestro Daniel Raiskin as “a very special and meaningful moment for us”. Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear captivated listeners with Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16marking his first WSO appearance in 13 years.
2. WSO Pops: Don Amero (October 22-24)
This Pops show — featuring three-time Juno nominee Don Amero of Cree and Métis descent from Winnipeg’s North End and directed by Julian Pellicano — quickly became a personal highlight. Also regarded for his advocacy work within Indigenous communities and beyond, the country crooner sings straight from his heart — and his guts. Powerful Amero Performance Isabelle’s song (Go House)written as an imaginary love letter from a “stepfather” who died suddenly while out on an errand without saying goodbye to his wife, can be seen as a hymn for the undertow of farewells never spoken to loved ones locked down during the pandemic.