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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | TSO Champions Gustavo Gimeno’s Inaugural Season With Classical Star Power

By Michael Vincent on February 5, 2020

Gustavo Gimeno (Photo: Anne Dokter)
Gustavo Gimeno (Photo: Anne Dokter)

As we enter “season announcement week” in Toronto, eyes and ears are on the news of the 2020-21 season for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with our very own Gustavo.

By Gustavo, we mean Gustavo Gimeno, the TSO’s new conductor who will be making Toronto his home turf this September with a season that looks as tailored as his suits.

Gimeno will be the first conductor since Sir Andrew Davis took over duties as Interim Artistic Director following the departure of Peter Oundjian at Toronto’s symphony in 2018.

Gustavo Gimeno (Photo: Anne Dokter)
Gustavo Gimeno (Photo: Anne Dokter)

The 2020-21 season, released today, shows the TSO are ready to say something new with a fresh baton and a spring in its step.

The one downside is that Gimeno currently holds a post with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra through 2021-2022, leaving him just 13 weeks in Toronto. Gimeno will conduct a total of 20 of the 44 events (not including repeats), with the majority of duties going to various guest conductors, RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard, and returning visits from Peter Oundjian and Sir Andrew Davis.

Despite the limited appearances, the season programming hasn’t looked this strong in years.

The excitement includes a number of brand name soloists ahead: Yo-Yo Ma, Nicola Benedetti, Yefim Bronfman, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Juan Manuel Cañizares, James Ehnes, Karina Gauvin, Víkingur Ólafsson, Javier Perianes, Daniil Trifonov, and Jan Lisiecki.

Season programming is equally robust with a semi-staged Verdi’s Rigoletto, by Joel Ivany, Mahler Symphonies No. 1 and No. 4, an all J.S. Bach program led by concertmaster Jonathan Crow, and Brucker’s Symphony No. 4 “Romantic”, which marks the start of a multi-year Bruckner cycle.

Repertoire mainstays are Holst’s The Planets, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” and No. 4, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, Shostakovich’s Symphonies No. 5 and No. 9, and Elgar’s Variation on an Original Theme “Enigma”.

Beethoven 250th anniversary year will continue next season with the complete incidental music to Goethe’s play Egmont, Symphony No. 2, as well as a few curious commissions inspired by Beethoven from composers Unsuk Chin and Barbara Croall.

With the quiet decision to disband the TSO’s New Creations Festival in 2018, the TSO has decided to focus on programming living composers across the general season calendar.

Steve Reich – Wynton Marsalis – Jennifer Higdon
Steve Reich – Wynton Marsalis – Jennifer Higdon

The 2020-21 season will include four Canadian premières by minimalist superstar Steve Reich, jazz great Wynton Marsalis, Grammy Award winner Jennifer Higdon, and Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. Co-commissions include works by Barbara Croall (with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra), and Nicole Lizée (with the National Arts Centre Orchestra).

Composer/Conductor Samy Moussa has been named as TSO’s inaugural Artist in Residence, so we can expect to hear a lot more from him with five of his works planned. Other premieres include commissions by Canadian composers Emilie LeBel, Adam Scime, Bekah Simms, and Roydon Tse.

Guest conductors include Barbara Hannigan, Kerem Hasan, Dalia Stasevska and Xian Zhang (February).

Of course, no TSO season would be complete without former Music Directors Sir Andrew Davis and Peter Oundjian; both returning to lead the orchestra in October, January and June.

RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard returns to lead the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as several masterwork concerts.

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser – (courtesy of the artist)
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser – (courtesy of the artist)

Signalling a commitment to foster closer ties to the community, the TSO has appointed conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poysera as Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador.

“Gustavo and I are both thrilled to be working with Daniel to strengthen our shared commitment to this vital priority of the TSO. From engaging children in schools and seniors in long-term care facilities, to partnering in health and wellness initiatives in under-served communities, Daniel will foster broad and meaningful connections to music,” said Matthew Loden, CEO of the TSO, in a press release statement.

The commitment will also feature the TSO opening up lunchtime open rehearsals at Roy Thomson Hall, and school concerts for high school students in the GTA.

With the news of the TSO’s operating surplus this year, a smart new CEO, and the beginnings of a new relationship with a brilliant young conductor, we look forward to a new exciting chapter in the life of the TSO.

The TSO’s 2020-21 season kicks off September 23 with Mahler’s Symphony 1, Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito sung by opera-world favourite mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, and Crimson for Large Orchestra by Montreal-born conductor and composer Samy Moussa.

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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. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor 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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Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor 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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