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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Haul out the shoulder pads as the Royal Conservatory's new season recalls the 1980s

By John Terauds on January 21, 2014

Gilmore Prize-winning Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz is coming to Koerner Hall in October.
Gilmore Prize-winning Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz is coming to Koerner Hall in October.

The Royal Conservatory of Music is inviting Torontonians to party like its 1987, having asked Irish flutist James Galway and his wife Jeanne to open its 2014-15 season on Oct. 25, a few weeks shy of his 75th birthday.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

Galway is one of the few classical musicians to have successfully bridged classical and popular music styles — much in the way that the Conservatory’s chief programmer Mervon Mehta mixes up genres at the Telus Centre’s three performance venues, including Koerner Hall.

Another upcoming blast from the bestseller charts of yore comes via England’s Kings Singers, the world’s favourite a cappella vocal group from a generation ago.

But Mehta is hardly living in the past.

For classical music fans, the highlights from among the two-dozen classical concerts announced on Monday include the Toronto début of the Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, under star music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, featuring young Québécois cellist Stéphane Tétreault, on Apr. 25, 2015.

There will be a parade of significant pianists at the Koerner Hall on Sunday afternoons next season, starting with recent Gilmore Prize winner Rafal Blechacz on Oct. 19, ahead of the season’s gala opening. Also coming are Jeremy Denk and, in cooperation with Music Toronto, Richard Goode and Marc-André Hamelin.

Mehta has paired notable pianists with star violinists to help stir extra interest in the recital genre. For example, pianist Yuja Wang is teaming up with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and Daniil Trifonov is performing with Gidon Kremer.

And, struggling as it may be, the art song recital is not entirely dead — yet. A notable Koerner Hall vocal concert next season comes courtesy of another power-pairing: pianist Angela Hewitt and mezzo Anne-Sofie von Otter.

Due to the demands of booking artists in advance, Mehta has programmed a second edition of the Conservatory’s 21C festival of new music, even though the first one won’t happen until May.

The Conservatory announces its concerts in several waves, so there is more to come and, with the exception of notable conductors’ visits with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, these concerts don’t include the dozens of faculty and student performances during the academic year. They also don’t include venue rentals by organisations like Esprit Orchestra, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Soundstreams, Amici Chamber Ensemble, and others.

Tickets for the programming announced this week go on sale Jan. 27. You’ll find all the details here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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