May is an exciting time as spring starts to arrive and brings new exhibitions and festivals.
New Exhibitions Opening
The Bata Shoe Museum launches Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes on May 16. A celebration of one of the world’s most iconic shoemakers, this is the exhibition’s only North American stop, and will feature a series of tours with fashion industry professionals. Randi Bergman, writer, editor, and host of the podcast Capsule 98, will lead the first Fashion Walk, and focus on Blahnik’s work in the 1990s, when the designer became a household name thanks to Sex and the City.
Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival
The Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival takes place throughout the city in May, and there is a cluster of photo-based exhibitions to see along the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.
Highlights include Allan Cullen’s Reality, where the photographer and disability activist turns the lens on homelessness, poverty, and disability. Curated by Irene Gotz and Bill Vrantsidis, Reality will be mounted at the Toronto Reference Library’s Hinton Theatre.
At the Gardiner Museum, Ingenuity, Pam Purves’s multimedia series reflects on the ingenious human use of nature and interaction with the basic building blocks of material design: sand, water, and clay.
Two Edges of a Lifespan, curated by Piret Noorhani at the Museum of Estonians Abroad, presents Kristin Dobbin’s nostalgic series on Estonian summer camps, and Toomas Volkmann’s triptychs of Estonian-Canadians born in Estonia from 1918 to 1923, alongside written personal reflections on their lives in two countries.
Julia Nemfield’s Lost and Found at the Alliance Française Gallery explores the projected value assigned to objects through ownership, and the subsequent loss of this value when an item has been separated from its owner.
At the Miles Nadal JCC, Mark L. Freedman’s Safari is a collection of intimate wildlife images captured during several photographic expeditions to East Africa.
The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema hosts a free Nikon Lecture Series & Gallery Night on May 30, when a gallery showing of photographs will be followed by an inspirational hour of photographic stories and tips from Nikon Ambassadors Michelle Valberg and Craig Minielly.
Estonian Music Week
Celebrate Estonia’s 100th anniversary by honouring one of the country’s famed composers: Arvo Pärt. The Museum of Estonians Abroad is screening Arvo Pärt — Even if I Lose Everything, a documentary about the composer, on May 9. Then during Estonian Music Week — May 24 to 29 — be sure to check out Introducing internationally renowned composer Arvo Pärt, an exhibition created by the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum. It’s at Koerner Hall for the festival, then at the Museum of Estonians Abroad during the summer. And there’s On Pärt, Photographs by Tõnu Tormis, which features photographs of leading Estonian musicians, on view at the Museum of Estonians Abroad.
Proving the Estonian saying, “Song is food for the soul,” Estonian Music Week opens on May 24 at the Church of the Redeemer with ensemble Avarus, bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, Montreal electronic artist Kara-Lis Coverdale, and world-jazz group Justin Gray & Synthesis.
At mid-day on May 25, the Museum of Estonians Abroad presents EE Meets CA — Building Bridges in Music, an opportunity for Estonian and Canadian professional music industry members to connect. Later that evening, The Estos Rock at Lee’s Palace starts at 7 p.m.
On May 26, the Grammy Award winning choral ensemble Vox Clamantis performs with electro-acoustic singer-violinist Maarja Nuut and electronic music composer HH (Hendrik Kaljujärv) at Koerner Hall, co-presented with The Royal Conservatory as part of the Conservatory’s 21C Music Festival.
On May 28, a jazz singing workshop with Kadri Voorand at the Museum of Estonians Abroad starts at 12:30 p.m., and in the evening Kristjan Randalu, one of Estonia’s best-known jazz musicians, will be joined by band members and emcee Jaymz Bee of JazzFM91 at The Royal Conservatory’s Mazzoleni Concert Hall.
21C Music Festival
The 21C Music Festival returns to The Royal Conservatory of Music from May 23 to 27, welcoming musicians and composers who push the boundaries of contemporary music.
The eight concerts over five days will feature five world, 16 Canadian, 12 Ontario, and three Toronto premieres. Highlights include Kronos Quartet with Jherek Bischoff performing premieres of Bischoff’s works at Koerner Hall on May 23, pianist Simone Dinnerstein with A Far Cry juxtaposing works by J.S. Bach and Philip Glass at Koerner Hall on May 25, and Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Vox Clamantis, violinist/singer Maarja Nuut, and electronic composer Hendrik Kaljujärv, at Koerner Hall on May 26.
Reelabilities Film Festival
Now in its third year, ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival, presented by the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, is the largest film festival in Canada dedicated to showcasing deaf and disability cultures. The festival opens on May 29 at the Toronto Reference Library with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with artists, filmmakers, and activists, and includes a double-bill screening of The Milky Pop Kid and Keep the Change.