Toronto, Ontario—July 6, 2020: In light of the uncertainty and continually evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has made the difficult decision to cancel all previously announced concerts in the 2020/21 season. The TSO plans to perform redesigned concerts and programs in communities across the GTA, including at Roy Thomson Hall, for audience and ensemble sizes that align with current health regulations. The TSO’s aspiration is for its musicians to perform and engage with diverse communities, connecting with new and existing patrons through concerts and initiatives scattered throughout the region, with robust online offerings also being planned. More information about these programs will be available in early fall.
“We are fiercely committed to continuing to perform for Torontonians as the pandemic situation permits. The TSO has spent the past year developing a strategic plan to evolve our Orchestra in a way that reflects Toronto’s vibrancy, diversity, and creativity. A key pillar of that work has always been to expand our activities outside our traditional concert venue and to listen to our community. This approach also gives us the opportunity to listen to a wide range of voices as we strengthen our diversity, inclusion, and equity plans. As devastating as it is to lose our subscription season, we are also eager to find unique musical moments in our home at Roy Thomson Hall while we explore how music plays a role in city-building and the well-being of our citizens,” said Matthew Loden, CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Gustavo Gimeno, the TSO’s new Music Director, is developing plans in collaboration with musicians that reflect the current environment. “As the world adapts to our new reality, our cherished Orchestra has the opportunity to ignite a passion for extraordinary music with audiences in Toronto in more intimate settings, and to reconnect with our nearest and dearest patrons in unique ways,” said Gimeno.
“Replacing the planned 2020/21 season with alternative programming is the most responsible option for the TSO given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” said Loden. “Shifting organizational needs, including the potential for a constant cycle of likely cancellations, erodes the organization’s stability and increases our financial risk.”
Performances will be scaled in size according to the current health regulations and the TSO’s fiscal realities caused by the pandemic. Since the cancellation of one-third of the TSO’s 2019/20 season due to COVID-19, the priority has been to keep the Orchestra and staff intact, and for the organization to be nimble enough to seize opportunities to perform whenever, and however, possible. Federal support through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and emergency funding provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as the support from all levels of public funders, has helped the organization operate in the short term. The TSO is reviewing financial scenarios for the coming year, which will include the significant reduction of expenses and new fundraising initiatives.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our subscriber and donor communities who have kept their investment with us—and we will honour the value of their tickets this year, and in the years ahead, including for what will be an extraordinary 100th season celebration in 2021/22. The loss of ticket revenue this past season and projected loss of $11 million in ticket revenue in 2020/21 is very serious; however, it was clear to all of us that, for the TSO to survive this crisis, we must perform. In the midst of a historic event like this pandemic, we’ll continue to play an important role in helping Torontonians manage through it all,” added Loden.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, musicians and guest artists have appeared in over 100 virtual concerts and events for TSO audiences, receiving over 2 million views. Members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra were also mobilized to connect with isolated seniors in long-term care homes with personal interaction and performances in an effort to alleviate the painful repercussions of COVID-19 in this population. The TSO’s Education & Community Engagement department has created online materials including instructional videos featuring TSO musicians, at-home musical activities, and various resources for remote learning.
“The power of music to unite, elevate, and sustain our global community has never been so vividly experienced as it has during this devastating pandemic. For almost 100 years, the TSO has been valued by our community for our ability to provide music as a connecting agent. Whether in joy or sorrow, we have joined with individuals, families, and TSO partners to share musical stories and bring a deeper sense of belonging to our communities. Our role in 2020/21 remains undiminished. We may not be able to offer the grandeur of 100 musicians performing on stage together right now, but we will nevertheless find ways to bring music to Toronto,” said Loden.
2020/21 season subscription funds will be automatically applied to the TSO’s 100th season in 2021/22, locking in the same seats and prices without increases. Patrons may prefer to receive a full refund or donate their funds for a charitable tax receipt.