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Toronto Symphony Orchestra Announces New Season For 2023/24 Season — Year 101

By Anya Wassenberg on March 1, 2023

Gustavo Gimeno Conducts the TSO (Photo courtesy of the TSO)
Gustavo Gimeno Conducts the TSO (Photo courtesy of the TSO)

The 2023-24 season of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra blends treasured favourites of the classical repertoire with pieces the orchestra has never played before, along with Hollywood and Broadway hits, visiting superstars and family-friendly fare.

“In Year 101, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra stands on the shoulders of a century of exceptional music making and looks eagerly to the future,” says TSO Chief Executive Officer Mark Williams in a statement. “In addition to paying tribute to the wonderful legacy of the orchestral repertoire, this season is very much about embracing new music, welcoming new voices to the concert hall, and, with them, new audiences. It really is an open-arms, open-heart kind of year — all music lovers can find a home at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra during this season.”

“I am incredibly excited about what we have planned for next season,” adds TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. “More than 30 pieces will be performed by the Orchestra for the very first time — including one on each Masterworks program — and while many are new commissions, some are classics that simply haven’t made it to our stage before, and others are works by composers historically excluded from the canon. Programming like this is one of the many reasons why I’m thrilled to be leading this extraordinary Orchestra through at least the end of the decade.”

Masterworks Highlights

The Masterworks series is curated by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. The series opens on September 20 and 21 with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s interpretation of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.

Other highlights:

  • Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
  • Brahms Symphony No. 1 and Piano Concerto No. 1
  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
  • Fauré’s Requiem, led by TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and featuring the Amadeus Choir
  • Copland’s jazz-inspired Clarinet Concerto

2023/24 TSO Spotlight Artists

Canadian violinist James Ehnes will perform Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, the Barber Violin Concerto, and selections from the Violin Concerto by 19th-century Afro-Cuban composer José White Lafitte.

Toronto-born mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo will perform her program enargeia, a suite that spotlights works by women, and Berg’s Seven Early Songs. The Berg will be led by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who will be making a return to the TSO after 35 years. The program will also feature Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, one of his signature works.


Returning for the 2023/24 Masterworks Series

  • Pianists Daniil Trifonov (Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1) and Seong-Jin Cho (Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand);
  • Violinists Ray Chen (Korngold’s Violin Concerto) and Frank Peter Zimmermann (Brahms’s Violin Concerto);
  • Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó (Handel’s Messiah);
  • Conductors Dame Jane Glover (Handel’s Messiah), Stéphane Denève (Gershwin’s An American in Paris), and Osmo Vänskä (Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2).

Anticipated TSO débuts

  • Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason (Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3);
  • Violinist Randall Goosby (Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto);
  • Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv (Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8);
  • Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Stravinsky’s Pulcinella);
  • Classical saxophonist Steven Banks (John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, led by TSO Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian).

Along with the Adams Saxophone Concerto, other Canadian Premières include:

  • Spanish composer Francisco Coll’s Ciudad sin sueño (North American Première/TSO Co-commission);
  • Canadian composer Samy Moussa’s Trombone Concerto (North American Première/TSO Co-commission), performed by Jörgen van Rijen in his TSO début;
  • A composition by Métis composer Ian Cusson, created in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (World Première/Art of Healing Program Commission);
  • New pieces by RBC Affiliate Composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang and three Canadian, Toronto-based NextGen Composers — Katerina Gimon, Julia Mermelstein, and Christina Volpini (World Premières/TSO Commissions).
Isata Kanneh-Mason (Photo courtesy of the TSO); Jean-Yves-Thibaudet (Photo: Andrew-Eccles); Randall Goosby (Photo courtesy of the TSO)
Isata Kanneh-Mason (Photo courtesy of the TSO); Jean-Yves-Thibaudet (Photo: Andrew-Eccles); Randall Goosby (Photo courtesy of the TSO)

Pops Series

“Pure enjoyment is at the core of all six programs in next year’s Pops Series,” says TSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, who programmed the series, “and I know I’m going to have just as much fun conducting as the audience will have listening. So many of Broadway’s best, including some good friends of mine, will be lending their sensational vocal talents to these unforgettable concerts.”

  • The Doo Wop Project, a program from the cast members of Broadway’s Jersey Boys and Motown: the Musical that includes nostalgic hits by Frankie Valli, The Drifters, and The Temptations, along with modern classics by Michael Jackson, Maroon 5, and Jason Mraz;
  • A Spoonful of Sugar with Ashley Brown and Broadway Blockbusters with Ramin Karimloo & Mikaela Bennett;
  • RESPECT: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin celebrates the legendary Queen of Soul;
  • The Music of Star Wars features John Williams’s iconic music from all nine films in the Skywalker saga, and more.

Special Performances

A live orchestra with special guests and events, including family-friendly options.

  • An evening with Emmy-, GRAMMY®-, and Tony Award–winning actress and singer Audra McDonald, whose credits include (Ragtime, Carousel, Porgy and Bess, and the staged Billie Holiday biography, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill);
  • Movies for the family: Superman and Disney’s Coco with live orchestral accompaniment;
  • A kamikaze cabaret with chanteuse Meow Meow, conducted by Steven Reineke, (just in time for Pride).
Maestro Peter Oundjian; Maestro Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser; Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas (Photos courtesy of the TSO)
Maestro Peter Oundjian; Maestro Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser; Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas (Photos courtesy of the TSO)

Holiday Concerts

The TSO’s holiday favourites return.

  • Handel’s Messiah, with its “Hallelujah Chorus” featuring the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir;
  • TSO Holiday Pops, which spotlighting Canadian jazz vocalist Molly Johnson in an all-ages program of timeless seasonal songs;
  • Home Alone with the Orchestra performing John Williams’s score live to picture.

Young People’s Concerts

Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser designed this set of one-hour offerings for the younger set. “Next season’s slate of Young People’s Concerts is entirely new to the TSO,” says Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. “This is a thrilling prospect for me and the musicians because we all get to experience these fantastic programs along with the audience for the very first time. Each one is going to be a real treat.”

  • The Canadian Première of Classical Kids LIVE!’s Saint-Georges’ Sword & Bow, which details the life and work of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, 18th-century composer, conductor, and fencer of mixed-race heritage;
  • SingSong, a sing-along with songs from around the world, featuring flutist Yelin Youn, 2022/23 TSYO Concerto Competition winner;
  • Bhangra & Beyond, a fusion of sounds from Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent;
  • Dan Brown’s Wild Symphony, a musical about animal friends, conducted by RBC Resident Conductor Trevor Wilson, with story and music created by the author of The Da Vinci Code.

Relaxed Performances

“If, for any reason, you or your family are hesitant to attend a concert,” says Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, “this is the place for you. This is the time for you. And our entire series of Relaxed Performances is for you.”

These concert experiences are designed to be more welcoming to audience members with sensory and communication disorders, ADHD, learning or developmental disabilities, or dementia — or anyone who prefers the relaxed format that allows people to move around as they wish. Vocal expression is allowed, but there is also a Quiet Room if needed.

  • Three programs are offered: SingSong, Bhangra & Beyond, and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto;
  • Venue Guides, noise-dampening headphones, and other resources are available.

Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Performances

The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023-24 with Conductor Simon Rivard at the podium.

  • The fall concert revolves around the theme of fate through Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
  • The winter concert focuses on works from Britain by Elgar, Holst, and more.
  • The season finale revolves around Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, with bassoonist Cian Bryson, 2022/23 TSYO Concerto Competition winner.

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