Film Festivities

North America’s largest documentary festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this spring, and the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema kicks off the festivities early with Epilogues, a series of five films running from April 9 to 26. The festival itself, which runs April 26 to May 6, screens more than 200 films from Canada and around the world.

On April 15, Hot Docs pairs up with the Bata Shoe Museum to present Manolo Blahnik: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards, a 2017 documentary about the man regarded by most influential fashion figures as the best shoe-maker of the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s presented in anticipation of Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, which opens at the museum in May and includes a question and answer with senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack.

Looking for something lighter? On April 8, the Miles Nadal JCC presents Hanna’s Journey at the Al Green Theatre, featuring two guest speakers: Jeremie Abessira, program manager for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, at 4 p.m., and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein at 7:30 p.m.

Music Revelations

Did you know the Bloor St. Culture Corridor’s 20 different arts and culture organizations all present music-related events? This month is a great example, as the neighbourhood overflows with awe-inspiring and genre-defying live music.

The Music Gallery, the newest music organization to join the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, now makes its home base at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education. Its concerts in April all explore the wonders of “comprovised” music — composition mixed with improvisation.

Emergents III on April 6 is an intergenerational encounter featuring music composed by the late Toronto guitarist/composer Ken Aldcroft, performed by emerging artists with guidance from his former bandmates. A panel discussion on the history of creative music coverage in mass media with journalists Mark Miller, Carl Wilson, and Jennie Punter will precede the concert, and a fundraising silent auction will follow.

On April 29, the Music Gallery welcomes legendary multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee with Quebec duo Not The Music opened by Montreal’s Mercury, the duo of Lori Freedman and bassist Nicolas Caloia.

For a different flavour, check out River Moon, Flower Garden: The Music of Fuhong Shi on April 12, and Montreal musician and photographer Tess Roby with singer-songwriter Dorothea Paas on April 21, both at 918 Bathurst.

Soundstreams presents Freddy’s Tune: Turntable Bach, strings attached at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre on April 21 with the Gryphon Trio, DJ SlowPitchSound, drummer Dafnis Prieto, trombonist/composer Scott Good, and bassist extraordinaire Roberto Occhipinti. The concert will include the world premiere of a contemporary, cross-genre remix inspired by Bach’s magnum opus The Musical Offering and an arrangement of dazzling Phrygian Gates by John Adams.

The Royal Conservatory presents more than half a dozen fantastic concerts at Koerner Hall in April. One highlight will be the KUNÉ — Canada’s Global Orchestra performance on April 7.

The Royal Conservatory of Music created KUNÉ (which means together is Esperanto) last year in celebration of our country’s cultural diversity and pluralism. The ensemble includes 13 virtuoso musicians: 12 from different countries all over the world who had each chosen to start a new life here in Toronto, and one Métis Canadian whose ancestors have been here for centuries. This concert launches KUNÉ’s self-titled recording on Universal Music Canada, and the evening will also feature David Buchbinder and Hilario Durán with their band Odessa/Havana.

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music’s UofT Opera presents its season finale “From the 19th Century,” on April 3, with costumed and staged scenes from the golden age of opera, including Delibes, Donizetti, Wagner, and Verdi.

On April 5, Thursdays at Noon, the U of T’s free lunchtime concert series in Walter Hall, concludes with pianist Asher Ian Armstrong and violinist Emily Kruspe performing an all-Brahms program.

Then just down the street from April 5 to 8 at Jeanne Lamon Hall in Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir presents Bach B-Minor Mass, a choral masterwork considered one of the most supreme pieces of music ever written. Directed by Ivars Taurins with soprano Dorothee Mields, mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell, tenor Charles Daniels, and baritone Tyler Duncan.

Then Tafelmusik brings the music of Vienna and Madrid to Toronto with Close Encounters, an intimate chamber concert of charming classical gems for oboe and string trio, on April 21 at Temerty Theatre in the TELUS Centre.

The Toronto Consort will present Quicksilver, a new ensemble of virtuoso players of early Baroque music, on April 13 and 14. The concert will be full of extravagant music from 17th-century Germany with works by Buxtehude, Bertali, Weckmann, and Schmeltzer.

Alliance Française, which hosts concerts in its Spadina Theatre, will present 100 Years of Jazz Double Bass with Bernard Dionne and his guests on April 21. The concert will include pieces interpreted and composed by the great double bassists of jazz history, with music by Duke Ellington, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Scott LaFaro, Oscar Peterson, Dave Holland, and Christian McBride.

Heather Kelly is the founder and director of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor. Her column focuses on arts and culture events from the district. More information about events and locations can be found at

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