TSO reveals plans for new season
Concerts to feature Beethoven, Mozart and array of international musicians
Robert Everett-Green - 09/02/06
From The Globe and Mail
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has seen its future, and it includes much more Mozart and Beethoven. Yesterday, the orchestra announced its plans for the 2006-2007 season, which include a complete tour of Beethoven's symphonies and the third edition of what has become an annual Mozart festival.
Music director Peter Oundjian, who unveiled the season at Roy Thomson Hall, will devote more than half of his podium time to concerts focused on the two composers. His 13 weeks of performance will also include three concerts in a Russian festival, two shows in the annual New Creations festival and visits with the orchestra to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
The season opens with all nine Beethoven symphonies, interspersed with songs and symphonic excerpts by Mahler. All four Brahms symphonies and several of his concertos will also be offered next year, some of them in unusual pairings with the music of Stravinsky.
A Russian festival of mostly familiar works will include the North American premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's The Rider on the White Horse, with the composer in attendance. The celebrated Russian conductor Valery Gergiev will also appear for a program of music by Stravinsky and Debussy.
The TSO also announced that Abigail Richardson and Andrew Staniland be its first Affiliate Composers, under a new program apparently meant to encourage young composers to write pieces that orchestras will want to play.
"The concept of their works will be discussed at programming committee meetings," according to a media release, "they will observe, up close, the real workings of the orchestra; visit marketing meetings to discuss audience development; and ultimately, develop a clearer picture of the "reality" of composing music for modern-day orchestras."
Oundjian said that one important goal of the initiative is "to prepare young Canadian talent for composer-in-residence positions." The TSO, however, has no such position.
A three-concert New Creations festival in late winter will have a British focus, with works by Oliver Knussen, Marc-Anthony Turnage and Julian Anderson, as well as by Canadians such as Alexina Louie and TSO composer-adviser Gary Kulesha. A site-specific commissioned piece by Simon Bainbridge will be performed at the Royal Ontario Museum's new Michael Lee-Shin Crystal.
Two other novelties on the agenda include Robert Levin's new performing edition of Mozart's unfinished Mass in C minor, and Mozart's own edition of Handel's Messiah, directed by period-performance specialist Nicholas McGegan.
Guest conductors next year include Andrew Davis, Gunther Herbig, Leonard Slatkin, Gianandrea Noseda, Jiri Belohlavek, Itzhak Perlman and Julian Kuerti, whose father Anton will appear during the season as piano soloist. Other soloists include pianists Leif Ove Andsnes, Louis Lortie, Hélène Grimaud, Yefim Bronfman and Angela Hewitt; violinists Isabelle van Keulen, Leila Josefowicz, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell and James Ehnes; singers Measha Brueggergosman, Susan Platts, Michael Schade and Russell Braun.
The TSO plans to travel to North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie before the season begins and will host concerts at Roy Thomson Hall by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, l'Orchestre symphonique de Québec and l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, in a four-way exchange. The MSO has not visited Toronto since 1990.
The TSO also announced yesterday that membership in its tsoundcheck program, which offers $12 tickets to people under 30, had surpassed 25,000. The program has helped to increase average attendance to 85 per cent, though the low ticket prices also contributed to a $2.19-million loss for 2005.