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.

The Festival repertoire also includes the Canadian Première of Japanese composer Dai Fujikura's Tocar y Luchar; the North American Première of Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen's song cycle let me tell you; and the World Première of a new work by Canadian composer Chris Paul Harman, commissioned by the TSO. In memory of the late French composer Henri Dutilleux, the orchestra will perform Meìtaboles, one of Dutilleux's most popular pieces. Come early and stay late for extra festival performances, informative chats and after-parties!

Thomas Dausgaard, Jan Lisiecki, and the Sesquicentennial of Danish Composer Carl Nielsen, November 12-22, 2014

One hundred and fifty years after his birth, Carl Nielsen's rich, poetic symphonies will be performed alongside the music of his idols, Beethoven and Mozart. The TSO welcomes back Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard and his definitive interpretations of Nielsen, and the remarkable Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki for five concerts. The repertoire features Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable"; Symphony No. 2 "The Four Temperaments", and Symphony No. 5. Beethoven and Mozart are represented by Beethoven's Piano Concertos No. 3, 4, and 5 "Emperor," and Mozart's Overtures to The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni

Mozart@259 Festival, January 14-25, 2015 Curated by Bernard Labadie

Mozart@259 celebrates the January birthday of the beloved composer and his incredible repertoire. Music Director Peter Oundjian, who founded the Mozart Festival ten years ago, has invitEd Bernard Labadie, one of the world's leading conductors of the Baroque and Classical repertoire, to curate and lead Mozart@259.

The Festival opens with two concerts exploring Mozart as a performer of his own works. Italian pianist Benedetto Lupo, in his TSO début, will perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 before the Orchestra and Labadie present Symphony No. 31 "Paris." The next evening, TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow joins the programme and play/leads two additional masterpieces with his TSO colleagues: Mozart's Serenade No. 6 "Serenata notturna," and Sonata No. 15 for Organ and Strings, which also features Patricia Krueger, TSO Principal Keyboard.

Mozart@259 next features GorDon Wolfe, TSO Principal Trombone and Andrew McCandless, TSO Principal Trumpet, as they perform Leopold Mozart's Alto Trombone Concerto and Trumpet Concerto respectively, in a programme of works by Mozart's family, friends and future admirers including Haydn's Symphony No. 60 "Il distratto," Peter Schickele's Eine kleine Nichtmusik, and Mozart's own, A Musical Joke.

Mozart composed fluently and tirelessly, but sometimes he only created fragments of works. The Festival concludes with selections from Mozart's Zaide and Lo sposo deluso, as well as the Mass in C minor with a cast that includes Canadian soprano Hélène Guilmette and mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne in their TSO débuts, Canadian bass-baritone Gordon Bintner, and the Toronto-based Amadeus Choir and Elmer Iseler Singers.

Sir Andrew Davis: 40 Years on the TSO Podium, May 22-29, 2015

TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis served as TSO Music Director from 1975-1988 and has appeared with the TSO every season since 1974. The 2014/2015 season will mark his 40th consecutive year on the podium with the TSO, one of the longest ongoing relationships between a conductor and an orchestra.

With three programmes under the baton of Davis this season, the Orchestra will pay tribute to his long-term creative association with the TSO. These concerts showcase works conducted by Sir Andrew Davis over the past 40 years.

The celebration opens with the mighty Verdi Requiem, featuring the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and introducing TSO audiences to soprano Amber Wagner, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and tenor Frank Lopardo. Bass Eric Owens returns to round out this vocal quartet.

The second programme features repertoire from significant TSO tours under Sir Andrew's leadership including Louis Lortie performing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 (China tour,1978), Davis's own composition La Serenissima (European Tour, 1983), and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (Northern Odyssey Tour, 1987).

The homage concludes with a very special concert with the illustrious cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Toronto Children's Chorus (founded at the request of Sir Andrew Davis in 1978) in a programme that includes Elgar's Cello Concerto, Holst's The Planets and the World Première/TSO Commission for composer Edward F. Davis's New Work for Children's Choir and Orchestra,

Steven Reineke's 3rd Season as TSO Principal Pops Conductor, first concert October 18, 2014

This season, TSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke will lead all five Pops programmes (15 concerts) which include a celebration of the Beatles on the 50th anniversary of their first North American tour; a Celtic Christmas with Canadian folkies Leahy; From Bach to Bluegrass with Time for Three, a self-proclaimed classical garage band; from decades of TV history, television's most memorable theme songs and catchy tunes with a symphonic twist in As Heard on TV; and closing the Pops season, The Wizard & I: Broadway Hits, the musical journey of Steven Schwartz, composer of such "Popular" Broadway shows as Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked. Steven Reineke will also lead the special Pops presentation of the cherished Disney film, Fantasia Live in Concert.

The Second City Guide to the Symphony, November 29-30, 2014

The legendary Second City comedy theatre brings its unique blend of sketch comedy, satire, songs, and improvisation to an entirely new stage-Roy Thomson Hall! This unique collaboration with the TSO brings together Toronto's leading musical and comedy minds to explore their shared love of the symphony orchestra. This light-hearted comic performance will take on all things orchestral, from the colourful musicians, to the mighty Maestro, from send-ups of classical music history and conventions to the manners and mannerisms of our beloved audiences. Conducted by Peter Oundjian, the Second City Guide to the Symphony is guaranteed to be the funniest musical night of the year!

Turin Royal Theatre presents Rossini's "William Tell" conducted by Gianandrea Noseda,December 5, 2014

Gianandrea Noseda, the highly sought-after Conductor and Music Director of the Turin Royal Theatre (Teatro Regio Torino), will bring his orchestra, cast and chorus (a company of 200), to Toronto for their North American début, to perform Rossini's William Tell, including: baritone Fabio Maria Capitanucci (William Tell); soprano Elena Mosuc (Matilde); tenor Piero Pretti (Arnold); bass Mirco Palazzi (Walter Furst); bass Giacomo Prestia (Melcthal); soprano Erika Grimaldi (Jemmy); mezzo-soprano Anna Maria Chiuri (Hedwig); bass Luca Tittoto (Gessler); tenor Mikeldi Atxalandabaso (A Fisherman), and tenor Luca Casalin (Rudolph).

William Tell was Rossini's last written opera, even though the composer lived for nearly forty more years. The opera's length and challenging casting requirements have contributed to the scarcity of full-scale productions, but the famous overture has become a major work in the classical repertoire and recordings. William Tell, a rare treat for Toronto audiences, will be performed as an opera-in-concert, in Italian with English supertitles.

Holiday Programming, December 7-21, 2014

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has performed Handel's Messiah with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir every December since 1932. In the 2014/2015 season, internationally acclaimed Welsh conductor Grant Llewellyn returns to the podium to lead the TSO, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and an all-star Canadian cast of soprano Jane Archibald in her TSO début, mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy, tenor Lawrence Williford, and bass-baritone Philippe Sly, also a début, in five concerts in December.

Christmas with the TSO also offers a family Christmas concert with a screening of the animated film The Bear accompanied by the TSO; a Celtic Pops concert with the award-winning Canadian folk band Leahy, conducted by Steven Reineke; and Canadian pop band Barenaked Ladies returns to the TSO for two special Hits and Holiday Songs concerts.

Second Annual Chinese New Year Concert, February 21, 2015

It's the year of the Sheep! Guest Conductor Long Yu, Chief Conductor of the China Philharmonic and Music Director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, returns to lead the TSO in a dazzling programme of traditional Chinese and western orchestral music modeled after the very popular New York Philharmonic annual concert.