AGO Live: Songs of Heaven

Composer Owen Pallett in rustic tunic holding a crytal orb

Yuula Benivolski

Member Price $35.00 - on sale Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Annual Pass Holder + Public Price $45.00 - on sale Friday September 13, 2019



Tickets are not currently available.


AGO Live: Songs of Heaven

Saturday October 12 & Sunday October 13, 2019
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario

A divinely inspired mash up, Songs of Heaven puts a contemporary spin on the centuries old tradition of antiphonal (call and response) choral singing, in celebration of the opening of Early Rubens. Commissioned by the AGO and performed by the Choir of St. James Cathedral, under the direction of Robert Busiakiewicz, the 60 minute program features the world premier of three new choral pieces composed by leading Canadian musicians Owen Pallett, Cris Derksen and Matt Smith.

Staged in Walker Court for two nights only, and featuring live harpsicord accompaniment, the performance immerses the audience in a sea of song and includes access to the exhibition.

According to Pallett, “What Peter Paul Rubens sought to create in his enormous religious paintings is a particular sensation that I loosely describe as making the viewer aware of the concept of the infinite— a sense of spiritual vertigo, of being bowled over by the scope of his vision. Although Rubens’s own version of ‘the infinite’ relates to his Christian beliefs, I am seeking to convey a similar sense of vertigo regardless of the beliefs of the viewer.”

Owen Pallett is a Grammy award winning composer, violinist, keyboardist, and vocalist. He has released a string of critically praised solo recordings, winning the inaugural Polaris Prize in 2006. He has performed as a solo performer with orchestras worldwide. His chamber music work has been commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bang On A Can, The Barbican, among many others. He served as curator of the TSO’s New Creations Festival in 2017. He currently lives in Toronto.

Cris Derksen is a classically trained Cree-Mennonite cellist and composer from Northern Alberta. She obtained a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at the University of British Columbia and shared the title of Principal Cellist with the UBC Symphony Orchestra. Her captivating melodies and steadfast baselines have since captured the attention of audiences around the world, most recently with Maada’ookii Songlines, a choral work commissioned by 2019 Luminato Festival. As a performer Derksen has toured the world playing alongside some of Canada’s finest Including; Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson to name a few.

Matt Smith is a Toronto-based musician, composer, sound engineer and dramaturg. Alongside his recording project Prince Nifty, Matt makes music for theatre and dance, bars and clubs, headphones and all things between. Most recently he has collaborated on and composed music for Andrea Spaziani's Silver Venus (Dancemakers), an octophonic choral sound design for Toronto Dance Theatre’s Marienbad. Matt has also produced and engineered recordings for Lido Pimienta, Bernice and Isla Craig.

AGO Live is a dedicated series of performance events designed to reimagine the limits of what art can be within the museum. From marquee presentations to intimate moments and special commissions, the series is intentionally experimental and its formula flexible, highlighting local and international artists' creative journeys in music, dance and visual art.


This is an Accessible Event. Learn More


Saturday September 4 1-4 pm
Saturdays, October 30, November 27, 1-3 pm
Saturday, November 6, 1-3 pm
Saturdays November 13 & 20 1-3 pm
Be the first to find out about AGO exhibitions and events, get the behind-the-scenes scoop and book tickets before it’s too late.
You can unsubscribe at any time.