With the official 2017–18 season announcement this week, the Royal Conservatory of Music are more determined than ever to make the most of their flagship Koerner Hall.
As RCM President Dr Peter Simon puts it, “It is gratifying that Canada’s Koerner Hall is acknowledged by the world’s leading artists as one of the finest in the world today and an important point of distinction for our city.”
What makes RCM different is their willingness to present a genre agnostic approach to programming. Some Yuja Wang one day, some Holly Cole the next. It’s a recipe that has taken Executive Director of Performing Arts Mervon Mehta some time to master, but the results speak for themselves.
“Our philosophy remains the same as it did when we began on September 25, 2009: to present the finest artists from around the world and from across Canada in one of the world’s great concert halls,” Mehta says. “Of course, none of this would be possible without our curious and adventurous audience who fill the hall night after night. To them, we offer our sincerest thanks.”
A few of the 2017–18 season highlights are not surprising already sold out. These include a star-studded Season Gala with actor and comedian Bill Murray, and the return of pianist Daniil Trifonov, who had to cancel last year over missing passport.
The season appends a particularly sad valediction to Johnny Clegg, a South African musician who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. The stop marks his personal farewell to fans, and the last time Toronto will get to see this unique artist.
Jazz is well represented with six events devoted to exploring its roots, such as African and Latin rhythms, the blues, the Great American Songbook, swing, and bebop. Artists include the Miles Electric Band, pianists Alfredo Rodríguez and Danilo Pérez, vocalist Dianne Reeves, South African jazz instrumentalists Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim, American pianist Gerald Clayton, The Hot Sardines and the debut of Flávia Nascimento.
On the piano front, there will be two all-female concert series: Invesco Piano Concerts, featuring Canadian Angela Hewitt, French sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque, Georgian Khatia Buniatishvili, Italian Beatrice Rana, and Chinese Yuja Wang, and the third edition of Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On Stage with the returns of Lisa Fischer, Angélique Kidjo, and Fatoumata Diawara (with special guest, Juno Award-winning Okavango), and the debuts of Calypso Rose (accompanied by Toronto’s Kobo Town), and Canadian chanteuse Emilie-Claire Barlow. The interesting sister duo, pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque will perform the Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and works by Bryce Dessner and Philip Glass.
Vocalists highlights are many and include visits by Barbara Hannigan (her Koerner Hall debut) and Gerald Finley for a Valentine’s Day recital featuring British tenor Ian Bostridge.
RCM has a fondness for recognizing anniversaries, and this season is no different. There will be a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Amici Chamber Ensemble (gasp! — has it really been that long?), and Bernstein @ 100 featuring Sebastian Knauer, Wallis Giunta, the ARC Ensemble, and Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein.
Early music lovers will want to note viol player Jordi Savall returns to Koerner Hall with the great Hespèrion XXI, to perform alongside Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez.
DJ Skratch Bastid, (who audiences may remember from his collaboration with the Afiara String Quartet in 2015), with return with DJ Jazzy Jeff for an evening of record scratching wizardry.
The 21C Music Festival will mark its fifth year on May 2018. It will consist of eight concerts and run May 23-27, 2018. Details of the Festival will be announced in February 2018.
For the complete 2017–18 season line-up, visit RCM’s website.