TSO just announced its first season under the new director Gustavo Gimeno, and here’s what I could parse:
+ Samy Moussa to be the inaugural artist-in-residence. He’s one of the more exciting composers this country has, and this could be very good. His work will be wedged in to regular symphonic concerts and he will conduct from time to time. The fact that this Gimeno-led initiative is called “artist-in-residence” and not composer- or musician-in-residence tells me that in the future we may see a stage director, conductor, singer or who knows, playwright or visual/media artist in residence.
+ Dalia Stasevska, Xian Zhang, Barbara Hannigan will conduct a program each. Andrew Davis returns.
-/+ regarding soloists, the picture is more mixed. A lot of the usual crowd (James Ehnes becoming unavoidable, and do we have to hear Karina Gauvin, who is without qualms a fine soprano, every season in Toronto?) A regular at Koerner, Daniil Trifonov will perform at RTH next season. Riding on the wave of great press and hyped as the Icelandic Glenn Gould, Víkingur Ólafsson will too. Baritones Quinn Kelsey (in semi-staged Rigoletto – semi-staged by Joel Ivany) and Vartan Gabrielian, and Israeli mezzo Rinat Shaham are always of interest. There is quite a few sopranos and a couple of mezzos whose work I’ve never heard before.
– rep is… the usual. The inevitable Beethoven 250, and the same handful of symphonic composers.
+ an all-Stravinsky night, which includes The Rite of Spring, to be conducted by Gimeno, sounds promising
+ some improvement in the contemporary music department. Press release lists the living composers next season: Hans Abrahamsen, Unsuk Chin, young Spaniard Francisco Coll, Barbara Croall, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Larysa Kuzmenko, Emilie LeBel, Nicole Lizée, Wynton Marsalis, Gabriela Montero, Samy Moussa, Steve Reich, and the nextGen artists, Adam Scime, Bekah Simms, Roydon Tse. Most of these will probably be smuggled in the otherwise traditionally programmed concerts. Chin, Abrahamsen, Lizee, LeBel, Moussa and the nextGen are the only names I can get remotely excited about. Reich and Glass are becoming unavoidable(tm) too.
+ there’ll be more Bruckner than usual, as far as I can tell.
RCM-Koerner Hall, only partly announced (complete season to be announced later):
+ Anne Sofie von Otter with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout in an early Romantic program, in March 2021.
+ Angelika Kirchschlager doing Schubert’s Winterreise with Julius Drake, Feb 2021.
+ The Distant Voices concert by Jordi Savall Trio sounds good. Music from Afghanistan, Armenia, Istanbul, Bosnia, Persia, and Italy, with Middle-Eastern instruments like kanun and oud.
– I find it hard to get enthusiastic about the rest of the announced stuff. A Beethoven 250 mini festival, of course; again James Ehnes, Stewart Goodyear, Jon Kimura Parker; Pieczonka and Schade in excerpts from Fidelio.
? – potentially maybe good but can’t tell? Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins-commissioned and sung Songs for Murdered Sisters by Jake Heggie and Margaret Atwood – the song cycle that Hopkins had made after his sister was murdered, alongside two other women, in Eastern Ontario. Don’t know what to make of Jake Heggie being asked to do music for this, but maybe I’ll be surprised.
?? – much weirdness here. Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra in a program called Last Words, which includes Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ and Shostakovich’s final string quartet but also the reading (by the violinist Kremer) of texts by Jorge Luis Borges, Harold Pinter, and Steve Jobs (!?)