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Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | After A Long Pandemic, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Celebrates A 100th Anniversary In 2022-23

By Anya Wassenberg on March 23, 2022

Image courtesy of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Image courtesy of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Live music has roared back on stage in the province of Ontario, just in time for the launch of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s historic 2022-23 season.

It’s been a long wait for both TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, who joined the orchestra during the 2020/21 season, to launch a full-scale performance schedule. The 2022/23 season celebrates the orchestra’s 100th anniversary.

“I cannot fully express my delight and honour to be celebrating such an auspicious anniversary with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and our incredible Toronto community,” says TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno in a media release. “We are doubly thrilled that in 2022/23 we not only celebrate a landmark event in our history, but also our first complete season of concerts in over two years.”

Gimeno’s Masterworks

Maestro Gimeno will lead ten programs, spread throughout the entire season. His focus lies in mixing pieces of different styles and genres, incorporating both new artists and core repertoire. That includes:

  • An all-Spanish program (March 29–April 2);
  • Famed pianist Yuja Wang performs the Canadian Première of Magnus Linberg’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (co-commissioned by the TSO) in October, and returns in June to play Rachmaninoff’s dazzling Piano Concerto No. 3;
  • Maestro Gimeno’s own compilation of the Suite from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet (February).
  • He will lead a Gala and fundraiser event starring Yo-Yo Ma in November, marking Ma’s 50th concert with the TSO. Canadian Indigenous singer/scholar/composer/activist Jeremy Dutcher will reprise their collaboration of “Honour Song,” with Ma, which Dutcher wrote with George Paul and which was featured on the album Notes for the Future with Yo-Yo Ma;
  • The TSO’s annual holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah (December);
  • The TSO’s first Relaxed Performance for neurodiverse, adult patrons with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (March).

“As the pandemic recedes and the number of in-person concerts increases, we have an even greater appreciation for the power of live music and the communal experience we share in our concert hall,” says Gimeno. “Much of the 2022/23 season was programmed to reflect and deepen this sense of community between performer and listener.”

A New CEO

It will be the first season with the TSO for its new CEO Mark Williams. He takes on the position as of April 2022.

“I am excited to begin my relationship with this great organization at such an incredible milestone,” Williams says in a release.

“The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s 100-year musical legacy is renowned and its contribution to the vitality of our community has always been significant. Over the last two years, the company has become yet more embedded into Toronto with an extraordinary number of new programs, collaborations, and partnerships. As we begin our second century, we will continue to offer music that brings joy and solace, opportunities for growth and self-reflection, and support the well-being of our diverse community.”

Special Events

A series of special events will mark the orchestra’s celebration of 100 years in the community.

  • A free public concert on September 24 led by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno;
  • The TSO’s first tour with Maestro Gimeno from February 11 to 14 2023, taking the orchestra back to New York City, on their annual exchange with the NAC orchestra in Ottawa, and mark the TSO’s début at Chicago’s Symphony Center;
  • A performance in the newly renovated Massey Hall — the TSO’s original home — on February 17, 2023, the same stage where it gave its first performance on April 23, 2023, playing the same program of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5;
  • A new recording of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, and ondes martenot player Nathalie Forget.

The TSO released a seminal version of Messiaen’s masterwork conducted by then-Music Director Seiji Ozawa in 1968. The new Turangalîla will be recorded during the live performances on May 4 and 5, 2023, a full 55 years later.

From the original recording:

Highlights of the Season

The Masterworks Series offers audiences favourite orchestral works, including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (September), Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony (September), Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (October), Holst’s The Planets (November), Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (November), Mozart’s Requiem (January), Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (January), Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (February), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (March), Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (April), Ravel’s Boléro (April), Brahms’s Symphony No. 2, (May), and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (May).

The Artists 

Yuja Wang and French-Canadian cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras are featured in Gimeno’s Spotlight Artist initiative. In addition to concerts, including Queyras’ TSO début in March with the Schumann Cello Concerto and the Ligeti Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme in April, both artists will be involved in talks and other events.

Returning artists include conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis (Music Director 1975–1988) and Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian (Music Director 2004–2018), as well as pianists Yefim Bronfman (Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3, October) and Louis Lortie (Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23, February); violinists James Ehnes (Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, May), Leila Josefowicz (Helen Grime: Violin Concerto, North American Première, April), and Nicola Benedetti (Wynton Marsalis: Concerto in D, Canadian Première, May). Returning Masterworks guest conductors include Elim Chan, Michael Francis, Fabien Gabel, Kerem Hasan, Gemma New, and John Storgårds.

Other high profile guest soloists include Augustin Hadelich (Sibelius: Violin Concerto, November), Sergei Babayan (Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1, November), Juan Manuel Cañizares (Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra, April), and Víkingur Ólafsson (Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24, May).

Concertmaster Jonathan Crow, celebrating 11 seasons with the TSO, is the featured soloist for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in September, and Brahms’s Violin Concerto in January. Crow will also continue to curate the popular pre-concert TSO Chamber Soloists series in 2022/23.

“It is a joy for me to celebrate my 11th anniversary during this exceptional year at the TSO,” Crow says. “I know I speak for all of the musicians when I thank our patrons, both our long-term subscribers and those who are new to us, for their extraordinary enthusiasm. Our art form exists in a vacuum without audiences, and we are grateful for their participation.”

Débuting artists include a roster of up and coming as well as established talent.

  • Bruce Xiaoyu Liu, the Chinese-Canadian pianist who won the 18th International Chopin Competition in 2021 will open the season with Gustavo Gimeno, playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2;
  • Dalia Stasevska conducts a Tchaikovsky program in November;
  • Superstar cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Elgar’s Cello Concerto in January;
  • Young conductor Tarmo Peltokoski leads the TSO for Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in January;
  • 18-year-old Spanish violin prodigy Maria Dueñas will tour with the TSO to perform Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole in February;
  • Flamenco guitarist Juan Manuel Cañizares performs Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez in March;
  • Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital performs with the TSO in April;
  • Italian conductor Jader Bignamini visits in May.

Supporting new talent

The TSO and Music Director Gustavo Gimeno support the future of classical music through a number of initiatives.

  • In spring 2023, the 2022/23 NextGen composers — Matthew-John Knights, Fjóla Evans, Luiz Ramirez — will each première a five-minute work with the TSO.
  • The first five of ten pieces commissioned by Maestro Gimeno from diverse GTA composers will be premiered by the TSO in spring 2022.
  • 100th Season Celebration Preludes by Toronto-area composers Eliot Britton, Brian Harman, Kevin Lau, Janet Sit, and Christina Volpini will be performed during the 2022/23 season.

The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO), under conductor Simon Rivard, will perform three full-length orchestral concerts, as well as performing side-by-side concert with the TSO, among other initiatives for young performers.

Premières

Audiences will have the first chance to hear new works throughout the season.

  • World Premières: TSO Composer Advisor Gary Kulesha’s Fourth Symphony (January); Icelandic composer/conductor Daniel Bjarnason’s Trilogy Part 1 (June); eight new Celebration Preludes and NextGen works.
  • North American Premières: a new orchestration of the Alban Berg Piano Sonata by Sir Andrew Davis (February), Francisco Coll’s Aqua Cinerea (March), Finnish composer Joonas Kokkonen’s Adagio religioso (April), and contemporary Scottish composer Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto (April).
  • Canadian Premières: Unsuk Chin’s subito con forza (October), Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto written for and performed by Nicola Benedetti (May), and Yuja Wang’s performance of Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 3, (October).
  • TSO Première: Elysium for Orchestra (February) by 2021/22 Spotlight Artist Samy Moussa.

More…

The Pops Series, led by Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, will include a tribute to Epic Film Scores, The Best of Queen, and the audience-favourite Holiday Pops concert with Broadway stars Caissie Levy and Paul Alexander Nolan in December, among other offerings.

Music and movie buffs can enjoy live music with Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in October; holiday favourite Elf with a score conducted by the composer John Debney in December; Star Wars: The Force Awakens in October and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in May, with Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in June, accompanied by a score by Ludwig Göransson.

Young People’s Concerts, curated by Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, will continue, including new shows like Why Sci-Fi? Exploring science fiction in March, and Reggae Roots, featuring Jamaican Nova Scotia-based reggae artist Jah’Mila in April.

Both new shows will also be offered as Relaxed Performances for neurodiverse audiences.

Bartholomew-Poyser will continue his work building on community relationships, including a youth-led program in composition with composer Kevin Lau working on a chamber piece that resonates with youths living in downtown’s Kensington/Chinatown neighbourhood.

It all Begins with a Celebration

The Centennial Celebrations begin on April 9, 2022 with the Celebrate 100: Maestros’ Special Homecoming concert, where five of the TSO’s Music Directors return to the podium. Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis, Günther Herbig, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, and Music Director Gustavo Gimeno will each conduct works that represent each of their tenures with the TSO.

“Announcing a new season is always a joy for me because it builds on past achievements as well as holds such promise for an even greater future, exploring this dynamic, constantly developing art form together,” says Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. “I am honoured to join you on this journey from one century to the next.”

The 2022/23 season subscriptions are available April 8.

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