Toronto, Ontario—June 16, 2021: The long-awaited reunion between the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and its patrons is scheduled for November 10, 2021, with 30 dynamic programs running through June of 2022. The return to live performances will be defined by the leadership of Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, who will mark his first complete season on the podium, conducting 11 subscription programs.
“We are emerging from a devastating global event and embracing once again the things most important to us. As we return to the concert hall, we have created a 2021/22 season that connects Torontonians with the emotional power and shared humanity of enjoying music together,” says Gustavo.
Launching the season is the triumphant brass composition Invictus, which means “unconquered” in Latin, composed by Anthony Barfield to evoke the resilience, adaptability, and uncertainty of his city during the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. The season closes in June with Beethoven’sexhilarating “Ode to Joy”, as the TSO and its patrons celebrate the culmination of their journey back to live performances in Roy Thomson Hall and other venues.
Gustavo has programmed a season that reflects his expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure, while working within the parameters of a safe and measured reopening approach.
The first four months of the season will feature hour-long concerts without intermission. Musicians will perform works that accommodate smaller ensembles on stage in order to maintain physical distancing. Symphonic works with a greater number of musicians and longer concerts will be performed in the spring.
Known for his passionate approach with contrasting eras and styles of music, Gustavo spent this past year exploring an expanding range of diverse composers and musicians for the upcoming season. “Our art form soars when we present more racialized, Indigenous, women artists and new works on our stages, alongside Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Dvořák. Together, these works illuminate a repertoire that embraces a celebration of musical perspectives, histories, influences, and styles.”
Gustavo is putting a focus on many TSO musicians this season to showcase their individual virtuosity and passion for performance that was on full display throughout the pandemic. “International and Canadian soloists will always have a strong presence at the TSO, and indeed, you will see many favourites this season; however, the focus will be on the TSO musicians themselves performing concertos alongside the Orchestra.”
“TSO musicians sustained our enduring and deep connection with our patrons and our city through virtual performances for over 15 months. But in-person performances generate an immediate and visceral experience that reminds us all how deeply connected we are with one another. Gustavo has programmed a season with his uncompromising style, full of rich, challenging, and emotional music, featuring exceptional artists. Gustavo and the TSO musicians have charted a musical way forward from this historic period,” says Matthew Loden, CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The TSO will hold a year-long celebration of its 100th season beginning in the spring of 2022 and extending into the 2022/23 season. Maestro Gimeno has commissioned Spanish composer Francisco Coll to create a work, which celebrates the TSO’s enduring relationship with its city for over a century, to première in June. “From the first time I visited Toronto, I was captivated by the energy and contrasting styles of architecture, people, and cultures. I took many photographs during my visits to Toronto and shared them with Francisco for inspiration,” explains Gustavo. Coll has also composed a violin concerto for award–winning violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, which will be conducted by Gustavo in April.
As a way to further celebrate the TSO’s relationship with Toronto, Gustavo has commissioned a series of three-minute “Celebration Preludes” from composers across the GTA, representing the diversity of voices in our community, to be performed beginning in April. Five composers will have their works premièred this season including Cris Derksen, Luis Ramirez, Julia Mermelstein, Afarin Mansouri, and Iman Habibi, and there will be five more in the 2022/23 season.
To acknowledge the second anniversary of the dark pandemic period, the TSO has invited American conductor Ryan Bancroft, whose TSO début was cancelled at the onset of the pandemic, to lead the Orchestra in uplifting works that the TSO performed digitally during the pandemic. Screen to Stage (Mar 9–13) will include Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Vivian Fung’s Prayer(commissioned by the CBC with collaboration of the TSO for Canada Day 2020), Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 8, Beethoven’s Violin Romance No. 2, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29.
Canadian composer and conductor Samy Moussa has accepted Gustavo’s invitation to be the 2021/22 Spotlight Artist this season, making his TSO début with five works in the repertoire including the World Première of a TSO Commission. He will also conduct a program featuring Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, and his own JUNO-winning composition, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “Adrano”.
The Masterworks Series include Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony (Jan), Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2 (Jan) and 4 (Feb), Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 7 and 5 (Mar), Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (Apr), Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” (Apr), Stravinsky’s The Firebird (May), Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 (Jun), Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (Jun), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Jun).
Guest soloists will include Timothy Chooi: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (Nov), Kerson Leong: Samy Moussa’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “Adrano” (Jan), Angela Hewitt: Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 2 (Feb), James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Apr), Jan Lisiecki: Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Apr), Patricia Kopatchinskaja*: Ravel’s Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra and Francisco Coll’s Violin Concerto (Apr), Karen Gomyo: Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 (Apr), Daniil Trifonov: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” (May), Tony Siqi Yun*: Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto (Jun), and Javier Perianes: Grieg’s Piano Concerto (Jun).
Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan will perform the World Première of a TSO Commission from Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno in May.
Guest Masterworks conductors will include Peter Oundjian, who returns to the TSO in his first appearance as Conductor Emeritus, and Sir Andrew Davis, the TSO’s Conductor Laureate. Ryan Bancroft*, Maxim Emelyanychev*, Eun Sun Kim*, Samy Moussa, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Xian Zhang will also conduct during the 2021/22 season.
TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow will lead Bach’s Brandenburg & More (Jan 7), featuring Principal Oboe Sarah Jeffrey, Principal Trumpet Andrew McCandless, Flute Leonie Wall, and Principal Flute Kelly Zimba.
TSO musicians also performing as soloists in the season include Associate Principal Clarinet Eric Abramovitz and Clarinet Miles Jaques (Mendelssohn: Concert Piece No. 2), Concertmaster Jonathan Crow (Beethoven: Violin Romance No. 2), Principal Double Bass Jeffrey Beecher (Missy Mazzoli: Dark with Excessive Bright), Principal Cello Joseph Johnson (J. S. Bach: Prelude to Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello), Principal Bassoon Michael Sweeney(J. S. Bach: Concerto for Bassoon, Strings and Oboe d’Amore), Principal Trombone Gordon Wolfe (Jordan Pal: Scylla: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra), and Principal Flute Kelly Zimba (Nielsen: Flute Concerto).
FOSTERING EMERGING TALENT
As part of Gustavo Gimeno’s commitment to supporting and developing Canadian talent, three early-career composers—Roydon Tse, Bekah Simms, and Adam Scime—will be mentored and have a five-minute piece performed in the season as part of the NextGen Composer program. TSO RBC Affiliate Composer Emilie LeBel will work with the composers and foster an ongoing relationship that creates fertile ground for these artists.
TSO RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard, who shares a commitment to training the next generation of musicians, will continue to lead the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO). The season will also give other opportunities to youth, including a side-by-side performance by the TSYO and TSO, and a concerto performance by the winner of the TSYO Concerto Competition, as well as a performance by the nine-year-old winner of an online play-along contest with Jonathan Crow.
In addition to five works by Samy Moussa, the 2021/22 season will include Dinuk Wijeratne’s “A Letter from the After-life” from Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems (Nov), Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Rains of Ash and Embers (Nov), Barbara Croall’s Innenohr (Inner Ear) (Jan), Jordan Pal’s Scylla: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Feb), Vivian Fung’s Prayer (Mar), Emilie LeBel’s the sediments (Apr), Zosha Di Castri’s New Work for Soprano and Orchestra (May), and Oskar Morawetz’s Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion (Nov), along with NextGen and “Celebration Preludes” composers.
THIRTEEN WORLD PREMIÈRES/TSO COMMISSIONS
TSO RBC Affiliate Composer Emilie LeBel will have two World Premières: Kiwis Can’t Play the Violin and the sediments. Zosha Di Castri’s New Work for Soprano and Orchestra, Samy Moussa’s Symphony No. 2, and Francisco Coll’s Elysian are new TSO Commissions, as are the pieces by the NextGen Composers and the “Celebration Preludes”.
Toronto audiences will also see works by Kelly-Marie Murphy, J. S. Bach, and Clara Schumann, among others, performed by the TSO for the first time.
Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke returns to conduct Find Your Dream: The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein (Feb), featuring soprano Emily Padgett* and tenor Josh Young*. He will also conduct a 90th-birthday celebration of John Williams (May) and Holiday Pops (Dec). The series also includes a Tribute to Louis Armstrong (Jan), conducted and sung by legendary trumpeter Byron Stripling, and concerts highlighting the music of the 1980s (Apr) and ABBA (Jun).
YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERTS
Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser leads the Orchestra in two programs for young people. Prokofiev’s Peter and The Wolf is paired with the World Première of Emilie LeBel’s Kiwis Can’t Play the Violin—a theatrical TSO creation about the power of encouragement—and mad.sad.glad, which explores how children can experience emotions through music. The TSO has also collaborated with Red Sky Performance, an Indigenous dance/theatre company, on a digital performance of Mistatim, which will première in schools on Orange Shirt Day (Sep 30). The TSO will continue to engage with schools through virtual and in-person programs, including invitations to attend rehearsals.
Under the leadership of Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the TSO will build on the impactful relationships developed with community organizations during the pandemic, which deepened the TSO’s relationship with and commitment to serving Torontonians. Programs that brought personalized virtual music performances to isolated seniors through partnerships with Baycrest and the Chinese Cultural Centre, and to those living with Alzheimer’s through the Alzheimer Society of Peel, will serve as a model to expand the TSO’s commitment to improving health and well-being through music. Collaborations with the YMCA, Toronto Public Library, and other community organizations will continue to grow and find ways to use music as a positive force for connection and inspiration. The TSO has also embarked on partnerships with health-care centres such as Princess Margaret Hospital to support well-being and explore best practices in harnessing the power of music to support positive health outcomes.
“I speak for all TSO musicians when I say that the return to in-person performances is at the very core of our purpose. We have all missed the electric energy between the musicians and Gustavo Gimeno, our Music Director, and most of all, the enduring relationship with our patrons. This will be a season like no other and one to cherish,” says Jonathan Crow, Concertmaster.
“The TSO is able to move forward with this exceptional season because of the generous financial help from the government and our donors. The TSO is continuing to weather the storm with firm footing as a result of this extraordinary support,” says Matthew Loden, CEO.
Special Performances will be announced at a later date.