Stage Door News

Toronto: Soundstreams’ 40th anniversary season includes a new opera by Chan Ka Nin

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Lawrence Cherney, Founding Artistic Director, Soundstreams, today announced a 40th anniversary season filled with concerts, compelling stagings and world premieres, all of which will reflect and pay homage to the organisation’s distinguished past, while pointing the way forward for new Canadian music. For over 40 years, Soundstreams has commissioned and championed the music of the most gifted Canadian and international composers, taking work across the country and around the world, making Soundstreams one of the most influential Canadian cultural producers in operation today. Visit for tickets and full program details.                        

The 2022/23 season is presented with over 100 artists, both local and international, and in partnership with local companies including Tapestry Opera, Fall for Dance North, TO Live and Crow’s Theatre. Main Stage productions include CHORAL SPLENDOUR: MUSIC OF ARVO PÄRT & PAUL FREHNER, the film ZIPANGU, from Michael Greyeyes, SURFACE TENSION by Donnacha Dennehy, ELECTRIC MESSIAH, STEVE REICH: NOW & THEN, and a new Canadian opera, DRAGON’S TALE, from Chan Ka Nin and Mark Brownell.                      

“Our 40th anniversary is a time of reflection – where we came from really does matter – but first and foremost, it’s an opportunity to re-imagine possibilities in a post-pandemic world,” said Cherney. “We will continue to build legacy for Canadian music past, present and future by creating new opportunities for an ever-greater diversity of artists. Our aim is to embrace new compositional voices as a crucial step towards building trust and engagement with an ever-broadening spectrum of communities in Toronto, in Canada, and internationally.”                        

The season officially began this summer with a celebration of the late, legendary Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, with whom Soundstreams collaborated closely with for 30 years, and Percussion Theatre, a curated concert from Montreal-based percussionist Noam Bierstone, winner of the Soundstreams New Voices Curator Mentorship Program. 

During the continuation of the anniversary season, several Main Stage events will open with newly composed fanfares inspired by Stravinsky’s Fanfare for a New Theatre, in reference to the very first Soundstreams concert, a celebration of Igor Stravinsky, more than 40 years ago.                        

Soundstreams’ free Encounters program will also continue this season, with performances, panel discussions and audience participation, including work curated by Indigenous musicologist Rena-Marie Roussin, three members of the Iranian Canadian Composers of Toronto and SlowPitchSound.                        


Legendary Estonian Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste returns to Toronto to conduct Arvo Pärt’s masterpiece Stabat Mater, combined with the world premiere of a newly-commissioned large-scale oratorio, LEX, by Canada’s Paul Frehner

Kaljuste, as Pärt’s long-time collaborator, is considered the greatest living interpreter of Pärt’s music. He is also a champion of Canadian music, having premiered large-scale choral works of R. Murray Schafer. In this program, he conducts Pärt’s austere yet deeply-moving choral work Stabat Mater as well as Frehner’s LEX, a monumental work that sets to music religious, poetic, and even scientific texts – including Newton’s three Laws of Motion.                        

Zipangu is a world premiere dance film by Indigenous theatre-maker and actor Michael Greyeyes, performed by dancer Ceinwen Gobert, accompanied by the live string orchestra Ensemble Soundstreams, with music by Claude Vivier. This premiere is presented in partnership with Toronto’s premier international dance festival, Fall for Dance North

In the words of Greyeyes, “avoiding the pitfalls of a post-colonial morality tale, with Zipangu we were able to access something much greater: an Indigenous "Das Lied von der Erde" (Song of the Earth) with Vivier’s powerful score pushing us toward a thrilling climax. We had uncovered our missing narrative: a story of transformation, a goddess remembering her purpose, and a portrait of the earth itself: of stone and sand and gold coming inexorably to life.”                                                                                                                  

Artists will include: Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Soundstreams' Choir 21; Ensemble Soundstreams; Meghan Lindsay, soprano, Rebecca Cuddy, mezzo-soprano; Owen McCausland, tenor; Alain Coulombe, bass; Michael Greyeyes, film director/choreographer; Ceinwen Gobert, film dancer


 A Soundstreams RBC Bridges Concert
 October 22, 2022, 7 PM & 9:30 PM | Universal Music, 80 Atlantic Ave
This October, Soundstreams combines an emerging composer showcase with a performance of Surface Tension by visiting composer and mentor, Ireland’s Donnacha Dennehy, with both halves of the concert performed by Canada’s virtuosic TorQ Percussion Quartet, this year’s resident Soundstreams ensemble.                        

Dennehy’s sizzler for percussion quartet, Surface Tension, is a work inspired both by the historic collection of percussion instruments at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the techniques used to play the bodhrán, a traditional Irish frame drum. The first half of the program features six world premieres for percussion – short new works, composed by the brilliant participants in Soundstreams’ RBC Bridges Emerging Composer Program. The artists in this program, chosen through an international competition, have been mentored by Dennehy leading up to the showcase. TorQ, the resident ensemble for this year’s RBC Bridges program, will perform their new works during this program.                        

Surface Tension will be performed in an exciting new space in Liberty Village at Universal Music. Artists: Donnacha Dennehy, Composer, with performers TorQ Percussion Quartet                        

RBC Bridges Emerging Composers: Natalia Carmago Duarte, Nolan Hildebrand, Tom Lachance, Minh Tran Nguyen, Benjamin Sigerson, and Darren Xu. 


 December 22 & 23, 2022 at 7:30 PM, December 24 at 1:30 PM & 7:30 PM | Crow’s Theatre 
Soundstreams’ annual reimagining of Handel’s Messiah, for our time and place, returns. 

Never the same two years in a row, Electric Messiah re-imagines Handel’s great masterpiece with inspirations from different genres to create a feast of musical styles for curious listeners. An annual tradition in Toronto, this newest iteration features the world premiere of a new interpolation Body by Canadian composer Lieke van der Voort. Body is inspired by Messiah’s libretto; in her new work, van der Voort aims to shift the focus from the obvious spiritual side of the Messiah to the more visceral. The program will also include new music composed and improvised by all of the artists.                                                                                                                       

Artists include: Rob Kempson, director; Adam Scime, music director and sound design; Lindsay McIntyre, soprano; Elizabeth Shepherd, mezzo-soprano.                      

This year’s Electric Messiah is produced by Soundstreams and presented by Crow’s Theatre. 


 March 25, 2022, 8 PM | George Weston Recital Hall
A Soundstreams celebration of American composer Steve Reich’s 86th birthday (as his 85th was postponed by the pandemic), this program features Canada’s renowned NEXUS Percussion, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary, Canadian percussion ensemble TorQ Percussion Quartet, and others. 

“While Soundstreams exists to create a legacy for excellence in Canadian music, we’ve always done so in an international context,” said Cherney. “Steve Reich is considered to be our greatest living composer by The New York Times, and we’re thrilled to present our fourth presentation of his music, this year in association with TO Live.”                        

Iconic composer Reich has a special connection with Toronto through the legendary NEXUS Percussion, two of whose members are also founding members of the Steve Reich Ensemble. The Now & Then program features Reich’s iconic Drumming and his recent work Reich/Richter, with video by renowned German visual artist Gerhard Richter


 April 22, 2023, 8 PM | St. Andrew’s Church 

An original concert program from this season’s recipient of the Soundstreams New Voices Curator Mentorship Program, Arlan Vriens. The works he chose are by female-identifying composers, and the program was inspired by experiences during the pandemic. Said Vriens, “this concert orbits attentiveness as a revelatory power and a catalyst for rebuilding artistic practices in a changed and changing world.”                     

The program includes Carmen Braden’s The Seed Knows; Dorothy Chang’s Beautiful Things; Vivian Fung’s Quartet No. 4; Nicole Lizée’s Urbexploitation; Anna Pidgorna’s Obsessive Circularity of Thought; and Veronique Vaka’s Flowen. Playing select pieces of the evening’s program will be the celebrated Penderecki String Quartet.                       

The Penderecki String Quartet has toured extensively internationally including appearances in many of the world’s major concert halls. A devoted champion of contemporary music, they have commissioned and premiered 100 new works, and since 1991, have been Quartet-in-Residence at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University. 


 JUNE 15 to 17 at 8 PM and June 18 at 2 PM, 2023 | Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage 

Dragon’s Tale, a new Canadian opera commissioned in partnership between Soundstreams and Tapestry Opera with music by Juno Award-winning composer Chan Ka Nin with a libretto by Mark Brownell, follows a Chinese-Canadian woman who travels back in time to discover the rich history and mythology of dragon boating.                        

Artists will include: David Fallis, music director; Soundstreams’ Choir 21; Chan Ka Nin, music; Mark Brownell, libretto. 

Dragon’s Tale is co-produced with Tapestry Opera and realised in partnership with the Luminato Festival Toronto and Harbourfront Centre.                        

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The Soundstreams Encounters series explores musical themes and genres in an informal format combining performance, panel discussion and audience participation. This live series is free to the public, and will be hosted in various venues throughout the city that may have resonance for the theme of a particular program. Encounters will be offered throughout the 2022/23 season, and further details will be announced at


ENCOUNTERS: Indigenous Voices I & II 

During the pandemic, Soundstreams initiated a digital series within the Encounters format called Indigenous Voices, featuring singer Rebecca Cuddy and pianist Gregory Oh with music by Ian Cusson. We are delighted to be able to resume live presentations of the Encounters series this season. Two of these will be a continuation of Indigenous Voices, and will be curated by musicologist Rena-Marie Roussin. Rena is particularly interested in the ways in which Indigenous peoples are reconnecting with their own heritage and traditions in our own time, and these two programs will feature word and music that speaks to that theme.                

This is the first Encounters event curated by composer, turntablist, and sound artist SlowPitchSound (Cheldon Paterson). Sampling has been a compositional technique common to many genres ranging from hip-hop and electronic music to minimalism and other techniques found in both classical and new music. Cheldon has chosen to collaborate for this program with Montreal composer James O’Callaghan in a cross-cultural exploration of sampling, bringing together for the first time in performance two great practitioners of their art.                     

ENCOUNTERS: Blurred Realities
This program features the world premiere of a new work composed collectively by Maziar Heidari, Saman Shahi and Keyan Emami, three members of ICOT (Iranian Canadian Composers of Toronto). It will explore the blurred realities of the dream world, memory and personal identity. According to the composers, this work: “delves into the mind of a displaced person, the constant identity battle of a refugee, the constant daydreaming of an immigrant and their collective efforts to negotiate new meaning in the intersectionality of their lives.”                        

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Soundstreams |

Soundstreams is one of the world’s leading contemporary music companies, and the largest global presenter of new Canadian music. Founder and Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney is committed to showcasing the work of Canadian and international composers, and has commissioned over 170 new works, and programmed hundreds of unique and compelling concerts including chamber music events, multi-choir spectaculars, operas, music-theatre works, and seven highly successful international festivals. Soundstreams serves a broad community of music lovers through the yearly Main Stage series, and free outreach and education programs that include Encounters, the Insider program, RBC Bridges, and SoundMakers. Years of collaboration with artists from diverse cultures have laid the groundwork for Soundstreams’ leap onto the world stage, with productions like Claude Vivier’s Musik für das Ende, the Cree- and Sámi-language Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállábártnit, and Hell’s Fury: The Hollywood Songbook enjoying international success and rave reviews through The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.