Brett Polegato

Brett Polegato

accompanied by Robert Kortgaard
Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst

Brett Polegato is one of Canada’s best baritone singers. He is equally comfortable on the concert or the opera stage. His musical ability has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics. The New York Times praise him for his “burnished, well-focused voice” which he uses with “considerable intelligence and nuance.” He is accompanied by Robert Kortgaard who is a favourite collaborator for many of Canada’s finest soloists and vocalists.

Polegato’s discography shifts as seamlessly through genres as his live appearances. In addition to the Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, his recordings include the Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem (ASO Media), Ben Moore’s Ode To A Nightingale (Delos), his critically praised solo disc, To A Poet, with pianist Iain Burnside (CBC Records) and a live period-instrument performance of Messiah with the Handel & Haydn Society (Arabesque Recordings). With the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra he has recorded Bach’s Coffee and Peasant Cantatas (Analekta-Fleur de Lys) and, most recently, Handel’s Messiah. In March 2000, CBC Records released a disc entitled Opera Encores that joined him with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra led by Richard Bradshaw. His opera recordings include Emmerich Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago (Decca) with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Gluck’s Armide with Les Musiciens du Louvre (Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv label).

Robert Kortgaard

Pianist Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He completed his Bachelor and Master degrees at the Juiliard School in New York City. As a recipient of arts awards from the Canada Council, he furthered his musical studies in Italy and England.

Kortgaard has performed with sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian, Sumi Jo and Measha Brueggergosman; violinist Joshua Bell; and with Peter Tiefenback and prima ballerina Veronica Tennant in a new production entitled “Invitation to the Dance.” He has recorded French and German Cabaret programs with mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell for CBC Records. His CD with soprano Wendy Nielson was nominated for both Juno and East Coast Music Awards. Recent engagements include tours with mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, the Elmer Iseler Singers and several performances of duo piano repertoire with Peter Tiefenback. He also performs and records with cabaret artist and soprano Patricia O’Callaghan.

Polegatto Performance the artistic equivalent to a baseball home run with bases loaded!!

We had a wonderful, wonderful concert with Brett Polegato and Robert Kortgaard on that beautiful Sunday afternoon. Full disclosure here, I was not a huge fan of this particular genre but the skill, the professionalism, and the enthusiasm of Brett and Robert won me over to a far, far greater appreciation for their music. Even though the seats were only partially filled, the performance was first rate and inspiring. What a privilege to experience that quality of cultural erudition in such an intimate setting.

Article from Muskoka Today by Mark Clairmont

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2022


Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — A two-year hiatus was worth the wait here yesterday as baritone Brett Polegato returned to the Muskoka Concert Association stage.

His richly-pitched voice filling Trinity United Church Sunday afternoon with a mixed program of classically-inspired songs from Schonberg and Boublil’s Les Miz to Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

Pre-empted by COVID, Polegato and pianist Robert Koortgaard provided an animated theatrical two-hour concert that entertainingly and satisfyingly engaged an appreciative audience who welcomed them back with a standing ovation.

A duo performance of piano and voice that pared down big operatic and musical production numbers to expose the subtle humour of the lyrics more clearly heard alone.

The small audience of 50 and change subtly acknowledged them with nods, smiles and polite laughter in recognizing lines from The Impossible Dream; or seriously why Miss Otis Regrets.

Much of the program, admitted the Niagara Falls-raised Polegato, had an anthem-like quality or romance about it.

All of it performed acoustically “as often the composers originally intended.” Many with bigger than life stories behind them.

Kortgaard exhibited the skillful dexterity and sensitivity of his Julliard training with solos of Franz Grothe’s Illusions and Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell Stromness, swelling up and down the keyboard dancing between the black and whites and striking a perfect balance between the subtleness of pianississimo and the thunder-clap of fortississimo.

This as a gentle rain fell outside and the return of MCA’s classically-entrenched live music series progressed.

On Dec. 4 MCA returns to the Opera House for another Sunday afternoon concert featuring the Sultans of String.

Getting out in public — to hear the quality of live artistry again — remains a challenge for many groups and organizations large and small.

But when the steps are made those efforts are richly rewarding as demonstrated by Polegato and Kortgaard whose encore, If Ever I Should Leave You, was made famous by another Canadian, Robert Goulet.

And So It Goes, as lyrics the duo shared from their Bill Joel offering affirmed:

So I would choose to be with you

That’s if the choice were mine to make

But you can make decisions too

And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes

And you’re the only one who knows.

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Pianist Robert Kortgaard and baritone Brett Polegatto providing a richly rewarding return to serious music at Trinity United Church yesterday with a light-hearted concert that was both whimsical and serious.

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MCA chair Diane Harrop thanks Brett Polegato and Robert Kortgaard for yesterday’s concert.