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THE SCOOP | The Royal Conservatory Releases The Full Line-Up For Koerner Hall’s 15th Season

By Anya Wassenberg on June 6, 2023

L-R (top): Lara St. John, Chanticleer, Mahani Teave; (bottom): Laurie Anderson, JoAnn Falletta, Anoushka Shankar (All photos courtesy of the RCM)
L-R (top): Lara St. John, Chanticleer, Mahani Teave; (bottom): Laurie Anderson, JoAnn Falletta, Anoushka Shankar (All photos courtesy of the RCM)

The full line-up for Koerner Hall’s 2023-24 season, the venue’s 15th, was released in a statement by Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts, and James Anagnoson, Dean of The Glenn Gould School.

The season includes more than 80 concerts in their usual diverse stream of musical genres, with a solid concentration of classical music.

Dr. Peter Simon commented in a statment, “As Koerner Hall celebrates its 15th season and my last as President & CEO of The Royal Conservatory, it is hard not to feel proud that what we set out to accomplish those many years ago, has come to fruition. We have brought both internationally acclaimed artists such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to this great city, as well as those who are just beginning to discover their artistry — and this upcoming season is no exception. The Royal Conservatory is deeply grateful to our generous donors, sponsors, and patrons who have supported our mission for developing human potential and who share our belief in the profoundly transformational power of music.”

Mervon Mehta added, “Since opening the hall in 2009 and over the 1,200 concerts presented, we have gone from the unknown ‘new kid on the block’ to being recognized internationally as one of the finest halls in the world. Artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, African superstar Youssou N’Dour, the iconic Buffy Sainte-Marie, television star Eric McCormack, and rising star Canadians like Bruce Liu and Jonelle Sills, sing the praises of the hall’s acoustics. Even more importantly, they love the warmth they feel from our audience, one that truly listens. The combination of a great artist, a perfect hall, and a sophisticated audience provide the opportunity for magic to happen every night.”

Highlights

The season includes a special event, along with a focus on specific genres.

Mehta emphasized the diversity of the artists and ensembles that audiences will experience in the upcoming season. “After three years of uncertainty, cancellations, and shutdowns, we are proud to bring you our greatest season yet — filled with superstars from classical, jazz, pop, and global music, as well as artists who we feel you need to hear. Many of our dear friends will be back, but we also feature debuts from over 20 artists ranging from the German pianist Igor Levit to Sona Jobarteh, the first female griot kora player from The Gambia. Two internationally acclaimed orchestras led by legendary Maestros sit comfortably alongside artists from 33 different countries. Two thirds of the concerts feature Canadians and a third of them feature artists that celebrate the great diversity of our city. We are indebted to our subscribers and to our legion of donors who help us at every turn. I look forward to sharing many evenings together.”

Special Event: Concert to Commemorate National Day of Truth & Reconciliation (September 29)

Koerner Hall’s second Commemorate Truth & Reconciliation event has been curated by Denise Bolduc and Mervon Mehta. The gathering of Indigenous artists will be hosted by spoken word artist Zoey Roy, including a smudge ceremony outside the venue, and choral works, with a new commission by JUNO winning composer Andrew Balfour. Net proceeds for this concert will be donated to an Indigenous social service agency.

Gambian trailblazer Sonah Jobarteh:

Non-Classical Series

Here are the headliners for jazz, global, and other concert series.

Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On Stage

  • Rhiannon Giddens
  • Mavis Staples
  • Cesária Évora Orchestra (Koerner Hall debut)
  • Lizz Wright and Sanah Kadoura (Koerner Hall debut)
  • Stacey Kent Trio (Koerner Hall debut) and Alison Young Trio

Music Mix

  • Django Festival Allstars
  • Steven Page with Craig Northey and Kevin Fox, with special guest Tom Wilson
  • Holly Cole
  • The Hot Sardines
  • Alex Cuba and Raul Midón

Global Music

  • Anoushka Shankar
  • Omar Kamal (Koerner Hall debut)
  • Israel Fernández and Seffarine (Koerner Hall debut)
  • KUNÉ with special guests Jesse Cook (Koerner Hall debut) and Meesha Shafi (Koerner Hall debut)
  • Sona Jobarteh (Koerner Hall debut) and Taj Mahal
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Oumou Sangaré (Koerner Hall debut)

Robi Botos solos on A Night In Tunisia:

Jazz Concerts

  • Robi Botos and Friends
  • Christian McBride’s New Jawn
  • Terence Blanchard’s E-Collective with Turtle Island Quartet (Koerner Hall debut)
  • Samara Joy – Koerner Hall debut
  • The Jon Cowherd Trio (Koerner Hall debut) and Larnell Lewis & Joy Lapps

Classical Concerts

The season includes world, North American, Canadian, Ontario, and Toronto premieres by composers Milica Paranosic, Jessica Meyer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Adah Kaplan, Valerie Coleman, Laurie Anderson, Melissa Dunphy, Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt Gramatté, Micheline Coulombe St. Marcoux, Jessie Montgomery, Ana Sokolović, Laura De Rover, Fazıl Say, and Sebastian Currier.

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin in Brahms 3 & 4:

The International Orchestra Series brings two of the world’s leading orchestras to Toronto.

Staatskapelle Berlin with Daniel Barenboim

The centuries old Staatskapelle Berlin will be conducted by Maestro Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra’s Conductor for Life. They’ll be playing all four of Brahms’ symphonies over two days: Nos. 1 and 2 on November 25 and Nos. 3 and 4 on November 26.

The Philadelphia Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Montréal Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin comes back to Koerner Hall for his third visit, this time bringing the Philadelphia Orchestra. The concert on April 17 will spotlight Florence Price’s Symphony No. 4 and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2.

21C Music Festival

The 21C Music Festival now spans the period from January to May, bringing innovation and cutting edge talent to brighten the winter and early spring in the city.

  • Turkish pianist Fazıl Say performs his own works for solo piano, voice, and chamber ensemble. He’s joined by Turkish-Canadian mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender, Lara and Scott St. John (violins), Barry Shiffman (viola), and Winona Zelenka (cello).
  • Canadian violinist Lara St. John performs solo violin pieces composed by 12 leading composers, including Laurie Anderson, Valerie Coleman, Gabriela Lena Frank, among others, as part of a special project (and recording) titled ♀she/her/hers.
  • Tania Leone’s Indigena is the focus of a thought provoking 21C Afterhours, performed alongside Respire by Pierre Jodlowski, Habekhi (The Crying) by Chaya Czernowin, and Ping Pong Concerto by Žibuoklė Martinaitytė.
  • Harpist Bridget Kibbey joins the Calidore String Quartet and narrator Mervon Mehta for an eclectic program that includes a new commission for harp and quartet by Sebastian Currier, as well as Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and André Caplet’s harp quintet version of the same work.
  • Grammy Award-winning pianist Brad Mehldau performs new jazz works reflecting the influence of French impressionism, commissioned by The Royal Conservatory, Wigmore Hall (London), Carnegie Hall, and Cal Performances (UC Berkeley).
  • Cultural icon Laurie Anderson returns for a second project to follow up on The Art of Falling, which she performed at 21C in January 2020.
  • The Kronos Quartet celebrates a half century of music with a program that includes new works and iconic pieces from composers from around the globe.

Mahani Teave plays Debussy’s L’isle Joyeuse

Piano Recitals

  • Mahani Teave, the only professional classical musician from Easter Island, makes her Koerner Hall debut performing Bach, Chopin, Handel, Liszt, Rachmaninov, and Scriabin, as well as a couple of traditional pieces.
  • Sir András Schiff in his seventh performance in Koerner Hall, will keep the audience in suspense until he announces the repertoire for the concert from the stage.
  • Bach specialist Angela Hewitt will perform the work of J.S., along with Barber, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Schumann.
  • Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Víkingur Ólafsson returns to Koerner Hall for the second time to play Bach’s seminal The Goldberg Variations.
  • Hélène Grimaud, who was the last musician to play in Koerner Hall before the pandemic shutdowns, will play Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann.
  • Igor Levit makes his Koerner Hall debut playing piano arrangements of larger works by Beethoven, Hindemith, and Mahler.
  • Richard Goode will perform an all-Beethoven program, including his Diabelli Variations. Goode will also give a series of public master classes while at the RCM.

Vocal Concerts

  • Chanticleer is a Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble founded in San Francisco in 1978 by singer and musicologist Louis Botto. They’ll perform a selection of their hits.
  • Peter Sellars, Grant Gershon, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale collaborate in Heinrich Schütz’s Music to Accompany a Departure, with 24 singers who will be accompanied by Baroque organ and viol da gamba.
  • Multi-award winner and Glenn Gould School alumna, Macedonian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska makes her Koerner Hall debut with works by Schubert, Schumann, and Debussy, accompanied by acclaimed pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin.

The Brentano String Quartet play Beethoven String Quartet Op. 135, 4th movement:

String and Chamber Music Concerts

  • Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich makes his Koerner Hall debut with pianist Orion Weiss to perform works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Amy Beach, and Daniel Bernard Roumain.
  • The Danish String Quartet return to Koerner Hall to perform Thomas Adès, Britten, Haydn, Mozart, Shostakovich, and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden.
  • Violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and pianist Alexander Melnikov perform works for string trio by Beethoven, Elliot Carter, and Dvořák.
  • Violinist Daniel Hope and his ensemble explore the myths and legends of Ireland n a concert entitled Celtic Dreams.
  • The highly acclaimed Dover Quartet is joined by Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes to perform Brahms, Ernst von Dohnányi, and Joaquín Turina.
  • It’s a Koerner Hall debut for Brentano String Quartet as they perform Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13, and Schubert’s Trout Quintet with pianist Jonathan Biss and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal double bassist Joseph Conyers.
  • One of the world’s most renowned artists, violinist Hilary Hahn will be accompanied by pianist Andreas Haefliger in an all-Johannes Brahms program.

Also…

  • RCO Concerts with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, with a series of visiting conductors including Earl Lee, JoAnn Falletta, Joshua Weilersteian, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra and RCM Honorary Fellow, Maestro Peter Oundjian.
  • The Glenn Gould School Operas, staged with Peter Tiefenbach as music director, director Dana Fridkin and designer Adriana Bogaard. The annual staged opera this season will be Francis Poulenc’s masterpiece Dialogues des Carmélites, The production will be conducted by Nicolas Ellis.
  • Mazzoleni Masters, featuring the ARC Ensemble, pianist Jeanie Chung, and a special concert dedicated to the memory of violinist, RCM alumnus, and co-founder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Geoff Nuttall (1965-2022).
  • The Discovery Series includes Royal Conservatory Orchestra Resident Conductor and former principal clarinetist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Joaquin Valdepeñas conducting Glenn Gould School students, the Glenn Gould School Vocal Showcase, and students of The Ihnatowycz Piano Program are featured in an evening of works for two pianos and piano four hands in The Glenn Gould School Piano Showcase, along with three free concerts.

More info and tickets on sale [HERE].

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