TSO ANNOUNCES 2019/20 SEASON
Source: Toronto Symphony Orchestra
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis set out a season of bold encounters with symphonic masterpieces
January 30, 2019: Today, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Chief Executive Officer Matthew Loden, and Interim Artistic Director Sir Andrew Davis announce a 2019/20 season that reaches across the symphonic canon with programs that promise thrilling emotional journeys and profound intellectual satisfaction.
“Bringing together the past, present, and future artistic leaders of the Orchestra in one exhilarating season will offer Toronto audiences a feast for the senses—and a new connection to the music-making that distinguishes this exceptional ensemble,” says CEO Matthew Loden.
Audiences will hear Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Interim Artistic Director Sir Andrew Davis, and incoming Music Director Gustavo Gimeno—all of whom will lead the Orchestra in exhilarating performances.
Featuring interpretations from a spectrum of leading conductors and soloists, and programs that juxtapose symphonic masterworks with contemporary compositions, the TSO’s 98th season illustrates the full range of the symphonic imagination.
Epic repertoire, beloved masterworks
The season is built on a core of symphonic touchstones that form the first, often lasting connections between audiences and orchestral music. From the sublime Mozart to the unabashedly emotional Mahler, this is music that is best presented by an orchestra in the tension and expectation of a concert hall setting.
“In order meaningfully to connect with the finest, most complex, demanding and pleasurable music from over the centuries,” says Sir Andrew Davis, “you really need to experience it in person, in concert, performed with all the colour and sheer sonic impact of a full symphony orchestra. There is no substitute for the sense of possibility and vitality that the live experience offers. The TSO will be bringing you new revelations with every program of our exciting season. Please join us!”
Among the most anticipated offerings in a season that celebrates the symphonic canon are:
• Massenet’s Thaïs, a grand opera in concert that is a spectacle for the eyes and ears (November 7 & 9, 2019);
• Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (November 16, 17, 20 & 21, 2019);
• Mozart’s Requiem (January 15, 16, 17 & 18, 2020);
• Mussorgsky’s panoramic Pictures at an Exhibition (March 20, 21 & 22, 2020);
• Mahler’s all-encompassing Symphony No. 5 (April 29, May 1 & 2, 2020);
• Beethoven’s thunderous Symphony No. 5 (May 22 & 23, 2020);
• R. Strauss’s daunting and heroic Also sprach Zarathustra (June 17, 20 & 21, 2020).
No composer has left a legacy greater than Ludwig van Beethoven, and 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The TSO will continue celebrating Beethoven until the end of 2020.
Sir Andrew Davis, who leads two Beethoven@250 concerts, notes: “Works by the great composers are not from the past; they are not even of the present. They are always ahead of us, telling us where music will go.”
The upcoming season’s Beethoven celebration concerts include performances of Symphonies No. 5, 6, 7, and 8; Piano Concertos No. 3, 4, and 5; and the Violin Concerto. Joining Sir Andrew Davis in leading the festivities will be Kent Nagano (who appears in Toronto for the last time as Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal), former TSO Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Fabien Gabel.
On the podium—Past, present, and future
Beloved by audiences and highly esteemed by Orchestra members, Sir Andrew Davis leads the TSO for six weeks. Over the course of the season, the Orchestra plays under the direction of more than a dozen guest conductors. These include, for two weeks, incoming TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, as well as the welcome return of TSO Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian.
Interim Artistic Director Sir Andrew Davis
Fresh from collecting a 2018 Diapason d’Or de l’Année (awarded by France’s highly respected classical music magazine Diapason) for his recording of Elgar’s Falstaff, Sir Andrew Davis will conduct Jules Massenet’s opera Thaïs (November 7 & 9, 2019) in a concert version to be recorded live by Chandos Records for later release. Massenet’s mellifluous and beguiling music will be performed by an outstanding cast, with Canadian soprano Erin Wall in the title role.
Continuing his final season as Interim Artistic Director, Sir Andrew Davis leads the TSO in a performance of Shostakovich’s triumphant Tenth Symphony in a Russian-masters concert. The World Première of a new work by TSO Affiliate Composer Emilie LeBel rounds out the program (November 13, 2019). This program will tour to Ottawa and Montreal as part of the regular exchange among Canada’s three top orchestra ensembles.
Sir Andrew is also at the helm of two Beethoven@250 concerts as he leads 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition-winner Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea in a program that includes Concerto No. 4 and the haunting Symphony No. 7 (January 8, 9 & 11, 2020). He will also conduct a program that features violinist James Ehnes in Beethoven’s beloved Violin Concerto, and includes the playful and optimistic Symphony No. 8 (June 10, 11, 13 & 14, 2020).
In his season finale, Sir Andrew Davis will conduct Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustraand, in a rare and memorable turn at the keyboard of Roy Thomson Hall’s Gabriel Kney organ, he leads the Orchestra in Saint-Saëns’s “Organ Symphony” (June 17, 20 & 21, 2020). These June concerts also feature one of Sir Andrew’s compositions, La Serenissima.
Gustavo Gimeno highlights
Starting in September 2020, Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno will be TSO Music Director, leading the Orchestra for 13 weeks each year, for an initial term of five years. Acclaimed for his commanding musicianship, magnetic presence, and emotional intensity, he is also a former principal percussionist who brings a propulsive energy to the head of the Orchestra.
Before he makes his official start as Music Director in the Fall of 2020, Gimeno will collaborate with two prodigiously talented soloists, giving audiences a chance to witness his charisma and brilliantly imaginative artistry. On October 9, 10 & 12, 2019, Gimeno leads a Russian-French program that includes Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev—featuring Beatrice Rana—Ravel, and a work by Guillaume Connesson that was co-commissioned by the TSO in 2007. On April 8, 9 & 11, 2020, Gimeno conducts a spectacular all-Brahms program that welcomes piano phenomenon Yuja Wang back to the TSO stage in two concert programs that feature both Brahms concertos.
Peter Oundjian returns
In addition to Sir Andrew Davis and incoming Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, conductors who are part of the TSO family—former Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, Resident Conductor Simon Rivard, and Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian—appear on the podium.
Peter’s final season at the TSO marked a rousing end to a 14-year tenure, the second-longest of any Music Director in the TSO’s history. During that time, Peter appointed more than half the Orchestra’s current musicians and two-thirds of its principal players. Maestro Oundjian returns to conduct a program featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and, with Concertmaster Jonathan Crow, Bruch’s powerful and emotive Violin Concerto No. 1 (April 29, May 1 & 2, 2020).
A season-long theme of virtuoso musicians showing rarely seen dimensions of their musicianship begins on a riveting opening night (September 19 & 21, 2019) when Maestro John Storgårds leads noted Canadian Soprano Barbara Hannigan in the aria “And once I played Ophelia” (Ophelia’s final and greatest combat) from Brett Dean’s opera Hamlet, and Hannigan, who is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, conducts violin soloist Storgårds in a performance of a 2002 Henri Dutilleux nocturne.
Further into the season, Sir Andrew Davis conducts and plays the organ (Saint-Saёns’s “Organ Symphony”, June 17, 20 & 21, 2020); Jonathan Crow solos on the violin while leading the Orchestra in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (November 16, 17, 20 & 21, 2019); and Scottish guest conductor Donald Runnicles performs on the piano alongside The TSO Chamber Soloists in a pre-concert performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder(February 20, 2020).
Esteemed guest artists and TSO débuts for rising stars
The season’s focus on musical masterworks means audiences will see some of the world’s best soloists matched with the richest, most complex, challenging, and rewarding compositions in the canon.
Highlights include rising-star Beatrice Rana of Italy, 2017 GRAMMY Award winner for Young Artist of the Year, playing Prokofiev’s fiery Piano Concerto No. 3 (October 9, 10 & 12, 2019), and Swedish 18-year-old Daniel Lozakovich playing Tchaikovsky’s spectacular Violin Concerto (November 27, 28, 30 & December 1, 2019). Renowned Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan also makes his TSO début with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (March 20, 21 & 22, 2020). The riveting Yuja Wang performs Brahms’s romantic classics, Piano Concerto No. 1 (April 8 & 9, 2020), and Piano Concerto No. 2 (April 11, 2020). James Ehnes, from Brandon, Manitoba, plays Beethoven’s revolutionary Violin Concerto (June 10, 11, 13 & 14, 2020), and Calgary’s Jan Lisiecki plays Beethoven’s magnificent and imposing “Emperor” Concerto (April 1, 2, 4 & 5, 2020). Toronto favourite Joshua Bell visits with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (February 6, 2020).
Renowned guest conductors
The 2019/20 season also sees the TSO welcome American legend Leonard Slatkin, Canadian early-music specialist Bernard Labadie, and a host of esteemed guest conductors including Alexander Shelley, Fabien Gabel, and Cristian Măcelaru. Emerging talents Elim Chan of China (Principal Guest Conductor, Royal Scottish National Orchestra), Karina Canellakis of the United States (Chief Conductor, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra), and the young and inspiring conductor from Uzbekistan Aziz Shokhakimov(Kapellmeister, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and Principal Guest Conductor, La Verdi Orchestra in Milan) join the TSO trailing a string of accolades. Chan, who leads a performance that includes the irresistible Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 (February 14, 15 & 16, 2020), is the first woman to win the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition (2014) and was a Dudamel Fellow (2016/17). Canellakis, who leads a program that includes Grieg’s sweeping Piano Concerto (June 4 & 6, 2020), won the George Solti Conducting Award (2016). Shokhakimov, who is on the TSO podium for Dvořák & Mendelssohn (January 30 & February 1, 2020), won the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award at the 2016 Salzburg Festival.
The TSO has a 98-year history of raising the profiles of Canadian talent. In addition to world-renowned Canadians James Ehnes, Jan Lisiecki, Barbara Hannigan, and Erin Wall, Canadian guest artists and composers who are in the spotlight for the 2019/20 season include:
• Pianist Angela Hewitt playing Canadian composer Matthew Whittall’s Nameless Seas(May 13 & 14, 2020);
• Karen Gomyo playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (November 13, 2019);
• Jon Kimura Parker performing Barber’s Piano Concerto (November 22 & 23, 2019);
• Jane Archibald, Emily D’Angelo, Isaiah Bell, and Russell Braun in Handel’s Messiah(December 17, 18, 20, 21 & 22, 2019);
• The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir performing Massenet, Mozart, and Handel;
• Soprano Measha Brueggergosman performing Holiday Pops;
• Bernard Labadie conducting an all-Mozart program (January 22, 23 & 26, 2020).
The TSO hosts the National Arts Centre Orchestra with Alexander Shelley, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal with Kent Nagano for their annual appearances on the TSO stage.
Works by Canadian composers Jocelyn Morlock, Sophie Eckhardt-Gramatté, Emilie LeBel, Carmen Braden, Vivian Fung, and Zosha Di Castri are being presented on various concert programs throughout the season.
TSO principals as soloists
The TSO will feature the exceptional talents of three of its principal musicians:
• Principal Oboe Sarah Jeffrey performs R. Strauss’s Concerto in D Major for Oboe and Small Orchestra (September 27, 28 & 29, 2019).
• Concertmaster Jonathan Crow leads the Orchestra, and is featured as a soloist, in a program that includes Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (November 16, 17, 20 & 21, 2019). He is also in the spotlight when Peter Oundjian (who appointed Crow as TSO Concertmaster) returns to conduct Bruch’s entrancing Violin Concerto No. 1 (April 29, May 1 & 2, 2020), and plays the gorgeous violin solo from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (February 14, 15 & 16, 2020).
• Principal Cello Joseph Johnson takes centre stage for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto (January 30 & February 1, 2020).
The TSO Chamber Soloists bring back their popular pre-concert performances, curated by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow, featuring Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp; Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2; Vivier’s Cinq chansons pour percussion; and Beethoven’s Septet (with special guest James Ehnes). Internationally renowned conductor Donald Runnicles, will also join The TSO Chamber Soloists on the piano for an intimate performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder (February 20, 2020).
New partnership with Equilibrium Young Artists for Mozart’s Requiem
In January 2020, Sir Andrew Davis leads the TSO in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem that will include a quartet of vocalists from Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium Young Artists (EQ) initiative. This will be the TSO’s first collaboration with EQ and Hannigan’s first EQ mentoring initiative in Canada. EQ is designed for young professional musicians in the first phase of their professional career and works to elevate the participants’ level of total musicianship and discipline to the highest level. It launched officially in 2018 with each participant hand-chosen by Barbara Hannigan via audition, receiving over 350 applicants from 39 countries.
Selected by Hannigan and Sir Andrew Davis through auditions in early 2019, four soloists will attend an intensive EQ workshop at Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) in August 2019 before appearing with the TSO for the first time in January 2020. The TSO and Hannigan have a long-standing history of introducing firsts to Canadian audiences, including Hannigan’s début with the Orchestra (as soprano) in 2000 and Hannigan’s North American conducting début in 2015. For more information about EQ, visit equilibrium-youngartists.com.
Specials, films, and Pops
The TSO Pops Series, an audience favourite curated by Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, is presented throughout the season. Highlights of the series are James Bond: The Music, conducted by John Morris Russell and starring vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Ron Bohmer (October 15 & 16, 2019); Music of John Williams (March 3 & 4, 2020); a program of Rodgers & Hammerstein classics (April 14 & 15, 2020); a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald (May 26 & 27, 2020); and Dancing in the Street: The Music of Motown (June 23 & 24, 2020).
Young People’s Concerts Series
With one-hour matinees that are perfect for kids ages 5 to 10—and the young at heart of all ages—this season’s Young People’s Concerts (YPC) feature Symphony Spooktacular (October 27, 2019); Beethoven Lives Upstairs (February 2, 2020); The Composer Is Dead (March 1, 2020); and Symphonic Fairy Tales (April 26, 2020). New this season, all YPC performances are on Sundays.
TSO annual holiday favourites
• Back by popular demand, Home Alone in Concert (film with orchestra) kicks off the festive season (December 6 & 7, 2019).
• Steven Reineke is back on the podium for TSO Holiday Pops, where beloved Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman shares the stage with a full chorus (December 10 & 11, 2019).
• Handel’s Messiah, an unmissable holiday tradition, features a brilliant, all-Canadian cast: Jane Archibald, Emily D’Angelo, Isaiah Bell, Russell Braun, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under the direction of Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Films with live orchestra
Films with orchestra allow audiences to watch a classic on the big screen and hear live musical accompaniment. In addition to the above-mentioned Home Alone in Concert (December 6 & 7, 2019), the TSO presents Singin’ in the Rain—Film with Orchestra (February 8, 2020) and continues its ever-popular Star Wars Film Concert Series with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi—In Concert (October 2, 3, 4 & 5, 2019) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens—In Concert (May 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2020).
Four at the Weston
The TSO returns to George Weston Recital Hall (Toronto Centre for the Arts) for four Sunday-afternoon concerts throughout the season, with star turns by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (November 17, 2019), Jan Lisiecki playing two Beethoven piano concertos (April 5, 2020), Jean-Efflam Bavouzet playing the youthful “Jeunehomme” concerto in an all-Mozart program (January 26, 2020), and James Ehnes performing Beethoven’s Violin Romance No. 1 (June 14, 2020).
Education and community engagement
• Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra
The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) provides a high-level orchestral experience for talented musicians aged 22 and under, and is currently celebrating its 45th season. The TSYO program delivers a unique, powerful, and life-enriching opportunity that encourages ambition and leads to significant achievements, musically and professionally. Under the direction of TSO Resident Conductor Simon Rivard, the young musicians will deliver three concerts and perform Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 with TSO musicians in a side-by-side concert at Roy Thomson Hall under Jukka-Pekka Saraste (April 1 & 2, 2020).
• School Concerts
The TSO continues its tradition of offering curriculum-based orchestral concerts for students and their teachers in the GTA and beyond. Over 38,000 students experience the TSO at Roy Thomson Hall each year.
2019/20 programming includes:
What Makes It Great?Ⓡ: Pictures at an Exhibition
Rob Kapilow, host & conductor
(October 23 & 24, 2019; March 24, 2020)
The Composer Is Dead
Simon Rivard, conductor
Kevin Frank, host & narrator
(February 25, 26 & 27, 2020)
Symphonic Fairy Tales (in French & English)
Dina Gilbert, conductor
Jeffrey Beecher, double bass & host
(April 21, 23 & 24, 2020)
For a complete list of 2019/20 programming, please visit TSO.CA/201920-season.
Subscription packages and benefits
Curated Series packages are on sale now for renewing and new subscribers and offer greater savings than previous seasons—up to 40% off single-ticket prices. Early-bird pricing is available through March 8, 2019. The TSO offers a variety of Curated Series packages to fit every lifestyle, budget, and taste, ranging from $62 for Young People’s Concerts to $637 for premium-price-level Masterworks. Masterworks packages at Roy Thomson Hall vary from four or five concerts on Sundays to seven concerts on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Four at the Weston Masterworks packages are also available now from $116. Five- and six-concert Pops Series packages on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Wednesday afternoons start at $125.
Curated Series subscribers enjoy a variety of perks, including waived exchange fees and service charges, add-on discounts of 20% for additional performances throughout the season, and coupons for complimentary coat check.