TSO Announces 2014-15 Season

TSO Announces 2014-15 Season

Earlier today, TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian announced the 2014/2015 season of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), the Orchestra's 93rd season. The 2014/2015 season also marks the beginning of the Maestro's second decade on the podium with the TSO.

"Music speaks to us like no other art form. A single musical phrase can sweep us away to a different time and place in our lives, and can evoke powerful emotional responses," said TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian. "How lucky we are to be able to experience great live orchestral music on a regular basis, performed by world-class musicians right here in Toronto."

Great orchestral music is key for the 2014/2015 TSO season! The TSO will celebrate the piano -arguably the most versatile of instruments. A wooden box containing metal strings, a soundboard and small hammers can make the most beautiful, moving, and heart-wrenching sounds. The TSO will pay tribute to the piano by presenting a season rich with demanding and exciting repertoire performed by Canadian and international guest pianists, including the two-week Piano Extravaganza in February curated by and featuring Emanuel Ax. Mid-season, a new Steinway piano will be unveiled!

The new season will launch in August 2014 when the TSO embarks on a tour of international summer festivals, the first overseas tour for the TSO since 2000 and the first to be led by Music Director Peter Oundjian. The Orchestra will perform a send-off concert at Koerner Hall as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival on August 12, 2014, followed by a ten-day, six-concert tour of festivals in Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, and Iceland.

Acclaimed Canadian violinist James Ehnes and distinguished German composer and clarinetist Jörg Widmann will be the featured soloists for the tour repertoire that includes Weber's Overture to Oberon and Clarinet Concerto No. 1, Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Vivier's Orion, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Widmann's Elegie for Clarinet and Orchestra, Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 "The Year 1905."

"Returning to Europe demonstrates that the TSO is a world-class orchestra that deserves to perform on the international stage," added Peter Oundjian. "The Toronto Symphony Orchestra represents the city of Toronto on the world stage, and establishes us as a key player in the international music scene."

While the major focus on the piano takes place in February, the celebration of the piano takes place throughout the entire season. Beginning in September, Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition when he was just 20 years old, will perform Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in a concert that also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Choral". In October, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili will charm audiences with Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 before the Orchestra performs Rachmaninoff's majestic Symphony No. 2. Both pianists are making their TSO débuts. Other notable debuts and famous piano concerti also appear throughout the season.

The 2014/2015 season also boasts an impressive roster of guest artists and special programmes such as: former TSO Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste leading Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa, in her TSO début, with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis will direct Canadian pianist Louis Lortie in Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, and superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma in Elgar's Cello Concerto. Canadian tenor Ben Heppner stars in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by Peter Oundjian. Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will be joined by fellow Armenian artists in a special concert featuring the world premiere of a Suite from the film Ararat by Academy Award winning Toronto composer Mychael Danna. In a salute to the Pan Am Games in 2015, the TSO presents the World Première of Cuban-born pianist and composer Hilario Durán's Concerto for Latin Jazz Trio and Orchestra. The Barenaked Ladies teams up with the TSO again for a holiday concert mash-up of their greatest hits and seasonal faves. Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke is at the helm for Disney's beloved Fantasia Live in Concert-a high-def screening of the classic film with live accompaniment by the TSO for all the dancing hippopotami! And this season, the TSO will launch a new pre-concert performance series featuring The TSO Chamber Soloists.

Opening Gala with Violin Virtuoso Joshua Bell, September 18, 2014

The 2014/15 home season kicks off with another major fundraising initiative for the TSO, a season opening gala led by TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and featuring celebrated violinist Joshua Bell. Bell will perform Lalo's Symphonie espagnole with the Orchestra, which will also be treating the audience to Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture and Rimsky-Korsavkov's Capriccio espagnol.

Piano Extravaganza Festival with Emanuel "Manny" Ax, February 4-14, 2015

TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and Piano Extravaganza Festival curator Emanuel Ax, have created a Festival that places the piano front and centre in eight ticketed concerts and a series of free events in and around Roy Thomson Hall. Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, the 2012 Honens Prize Laureate, will join Oundjian and Ax for his TSO début in a programme that includes an Impromptu by Schubert, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14, Chopin's Grande Polonaise, and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances.

Jan Lisiecki returns to the TSO this season to perform Mozart's Concerto in E-flat major for Two Pianos and Orchestra with Emanuel Ax, in a programme that also includes Saint-Saëns's The Carnival of the Animals (which will also be performed twice on Saturday, February 7 in the Young People's Concert Series Pianorama, on this occasion featuring young pianists from around Toronto and conducted by Music Director Peter Oundjian), and a World Première/TSO Commission from RBC Affiliate Composer Kevin Lau.

It is a true piano extravaganza on February 12 when pianists Stewart Goodyear, piano-duo Anagnoson & Kinton, and Ax perform the original piano versions of works ultimately arranged for large orchestra. Experience Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphoses after Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, and Ravel's La valse performed side-by-side with the orchestral versions of each work.

Pinchas Zukerman, making his final Toronto appearance as Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, offers a hearty programme of two Brahms concertos: the first featuring the soloists Zukerman and Principal Cello of the NAC Orchestra, Amanda Forsyth; and the second the remarkable pianist, Yefim Bronfman.

Emanuel Ax will join Rob Kapilow for an entertaining and informative exploration of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Under the loving scrutiny of the What Makes it Great programme, Kapilow takes listeners inside the music to hear why a piece is so extraordinary.

Emanuel Ax will also preside over a series of free events throughout the Festival including piano master classes at The Royal Conservatory; Pianopalooza, a 4-hour piano marathon at Koerner Hall; lunchtime concerts featuring operatic piano transcriptions in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts; a chance for piano students to play the TSO's new Steinway on stage at Roy Thomson Hall, and so much more! The Piano Extravaganza Festival is presented in partnership with The Royal Conservatory of Music.

New Creations Festival Curated by George Benjamin, February 28-March 7, 2015

Presenting new artists and performing new music are an essential pursuits of great orchestras, and throughout its history the TSO has been active in fostering the work of emerging artists and composers. For the 11th annual New Creations Festival (NCF), TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian shares the podium with Britain's George Benjamin, NCF curator, conductor and composer.

Recently named Musical America's Composer of the Year, Benjamin will lead a Canadian Première of one of his works at each concert including A Mind of Winter, and Duet for Piano and Orchestra featuring recent Glenn Gould School graduate pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough. The Festival culminates with the provocative opera-in-concert Written on Skin featuring cast members from the World Première including internationally renowned Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan who will be joined by Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó and débuting opera stars British countertenor Iestyn Davies, Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell, and British baritone Christopher Purves.

TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow will be featured in the World Première/TSO Commission of a Violin Concerto by Canadian composer Vivian Fung; and returning Festival soprano Barbara Hannigan will appear as soloist at each NCF concert.