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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's upcoming year of change

By Michael Vincent on August 22, 2014

Performing Rachmaninoff "Symphonic Dances" at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam. August, 2014 TSO European Tour.
Performing Rachmaninoff “Symphonic Dances” at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam. August, 18, 2014 TSO European Tour. Photo: Josh Clavir.

It will be a year of change for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who will be will opening its 93rd season on September 18, at Roy Thomson Hall, with a number of exciting shows planned.

The TSO have been abroad since August 15 on a 10-day, six-concert European tour, led by music director Peter Oundjian, which includes violinist James Ehnes and clarinetist-composer Jörg Widmann. This marks the TSO’s first European concert tour in 14 years. Unfortunately they did not include a single work by living Canadian composer, which is odd, considering the large number of well-received premieres over the seasons since Oundjian arrived 11 years ago. The sole Canadian work is the eerie Orion, by the late Claude Vivier, which has gathered some steam internationally. It was also just performed as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival at Koerner Hall on Aug. 12.

Besides the tour, the TSO’s newly minted CEO, Jeff Melanson will be starting his tenure with the orchestra;  promising some much-needed verve to help steer the ship away from declining attendance. Hopes are high for the ex-Banff impresario.

Announced last January, the season will include a river of classics with a number of visiting soloists and conductors, spread over innovative formats, including the 6:30 p.m. Wednesday Afterworks presentations.

The season kicks-off with Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol. Violin virtuoso Joshua Bell will make an appearance in Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole.

On September, 20 and 21st, the TSO presents “Arabian Nights,” a programme with Concertmaster Jonathan Crow performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, which will be released on Chandos Records this August. (For a review of the album, by Musical Toronto’s Paul Robinson, see here.) The program also includes Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird (1919) and the standard Boléro.

The TSO continues with Beethoven’s Ninth, presented in all its blustery glory on September 25, 26, and 27 with a full cast of soloists, backed by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody shares the bill, featuring the TSO début of the young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov.

The TSO’s Pops season beings October 14-15, with conductor Steven Reineke, and the Finnish a cappella Rajaton, who audiences might recall performed ABBA covers with the TSO last season. This year is all about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ American invasion.

The busy October will also include some new faces, and conductor débuts. These include Czech baton Jakub Hrůša, leading the way in the very first Afterworks Concerts on October 8, and Casual Concert on the 11th. The programme features Montreal born Karen Gomyo, performing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.

Maestro Stéphane Denève will also appear alongside Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti (one of my personal favourites) on October 22 and 23 with some Russian fare, including Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Benedetti is worth the price of admission alone.

Some new pianists to announce as well: Khatia Buniatishvili performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, on October 2 and 4, and the young American born pianist Conrad Tao, performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto on October 18 and 19.

Besides conductors and instrumental soloists, Australian tenor Stuart Skelton will make his TSO début for Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, with a full stage including mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers, bass-baritone John Relyea, the Amadeus Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Elgar’s oratorio is a true masterpiece, and a highlight of the TSO season. (Ben Heppner was originally scheduled to appear as a soloist, but after announcing his retirement last spring, Mr. Skelton stepped-in.)

In the spirit of Halloween, the TSO’s first Young People’s Concert will take place on October 25, with conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong spooking-out the audience with Bach’s Toccata in D Minor, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and selections from Symphonie fantastique, accompanied by a dance group. They are encouraging the audience to come in full costume, so I’d imagine this will be a ‘spirited’ concert on, and off stage.

For more details, see below:

Opening Night: Joshua Bell
Thursday, September 18 at 7:00pm Special Concert
Roy Thomson Hall

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin

Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture
Lalo: Symphonie espagnole
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol

Tickets: $38.75 – $169

Call TSO’s ticket line at 416.593.4828 | Chinese hotline: 416.593.0688 | Online Tickets at TSO.CA

To purchase an Opening Night Gala package, which includes premium tickets and an exclusive post-concert dinner, please call TSO Special Events at 416.593.7769 X261.

The Gala Reception Sponsor is Livingston.

Arabian Nights
Saturday, September 20 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Roy Thomson Hall
Sunday, September 21 at 3:00pm Masterworks
George Weston Recital Hall

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Jonathan Crow, violin

Ravel: Boléro
Stravinsky: Suite from The Firebird (1919)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

Tickets:
Sept. 20: $33 – $145 | Sept. 21: $43.50 – $98.50

Call TSO’s ticket line at 416.593.4828 | Chinese hotline: 416.593.0688 | Online Tickets at TSO.CA

The September 21 performance is at the George Weston Recital Hall located at 5040 Yonge Street.

To purchase tickets by phone call Ticketmaster at 1.855.985.ARTS (2787)

The Three at the Weston Series performances are generously supported by Margaret and Jim Fleck.

Air Canada is the Official Airline & September 20 Sponsor.

Beethoven Symphony 9
Thursday, September 25 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Friday, September 26 at 7:30pm Masterworks
Saturday, September 27 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Roy Thomson Hall

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Daniil Trifonov, piano
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
David Pomeroy, tenor
Tyler Duncan, baritone
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir

Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 “Choral”

There will be a pre-concert chat in the North Lobby on September 25.

Tickets: $38.75 – $169

Rachmaninoff Symphony 2
Thursday, October 2 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Saturday, October 4 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Roy Thomson Hall

David Zinman, conductor
Khatia Buniatishvili, piano

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2

Tickets: $33 – $145

Dvořák New World Symphony
Wednesday, October 8 at 6:30pm Afterworks
Thursday, October 9 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Saturday, October 11 at 7:30pm Casual Concert
Roy Thomson Hall

Jakub Hrůša, conductor
Karen Gomyo, violin
Tom Allen, host (October 8 only)

Morawetz: Carnival Overture (October 9 only)
Sibelius: Violin Concerto (first movement only on October 8)
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”

Afterworks concerts are 75-minute performances without intermission and feature complimentary pre-concert appetizers.

There will be a pre-concert chat in the North Lobby on October 9.

There will be a post-concert party in the lobby on October 11 as part of the Casual Concert series.

Tickets:
Oct. 8: $39 – $82 | Oct. 9: $33 – $145 | Oct. 11: $33 – $105

Best of The Beatles

Tuesday, October 14 at 8:00pm Pops
Wednesday, October 15 at 2:00pm Pops
Wednesday, October 15 at 8:00pm Pops
Roy Thomson Hall

Steven Reineke, conductor
Rajaton, vocal ensemble

The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (complete album)
The Beatles: Selection of Number One Hits

Tickets:
Evening: $33 – $100 | Matinee: $29 – $82

The Planets & More
Saturday, October 18 at 7:30pm Light Classics
Sunday, October 19 at 4:00pm Light Classics
Roy Thomson Hall

Robert Moody, conductor
Conrad Tao, piano

Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Arturo Márquez: Danzón No. 2
Holst: Selections from The Planets

Tickets: $33 – $93

Romeo & Juliet
Wednesday, October 22 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Thursday, October 23 at 2:00pm Masterworks
Roy Thomson Hall

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Nicola Benedetti, violin
Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO)

Tchaikovsky: Marche Slave (side-by-side with TSYO)
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1
Prokofiev/arr. Stéphane Denève: Suite from Romeo and Juliet

There will be a pre-concert chat in the North Lobby on October 22.

Tickets:
Evening: $33 – $145 | Matinee: $29 – $89

Symphonic Spooks
Saturday, October 25 at 2:00pm Young People’s Concerts
Saturday, October 25 at 4:00pm Young People’s Concerts
Roy Thomson Hall

Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor
Tha Spot Halloween Dancers
David Simon, organ

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Overture to The Phantom of the Opera
Stravinsky: “Infernal Dance of King Katschei” from The Firebird
Grieg: “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt
Tchaikovsky: Waltz from the Suite from The Sleeping Beauty
John Williams: Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Saint-Saëns: “Fossils” from The Carnival of Animals
Johnson: “’Dem Bones”
Wagner: “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre
Ravel: “Conversations of Beauty and the Beast” from Mother Goose
Berlioz: “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath” from Symphonie fantastique

There will be a pre-concert performance in the North Lobby.

Tickets: $20 – $32

The Dream of Gerontius
Thursday, October 30 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Saturday, November 1 at 8:00pm Masterworks
Roy Thomson Hall

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Catherine Wyn-Rogers, mezzo-soprano
Stuart Skelton, tenor
John Relyea, bass-baritone
Amadeus Choir
Elmer Iseler Singers

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius

There will be a pre-concert chat in the North Lobby on November 1.

Tickets: $33 – $145

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me
Michael Vincent
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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