7 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 9 - June 2002

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  • Toronto
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  • August

f. 0. MtisICAL V!AR'r'

f. 0. MtisICAL V!AR'r' by Colin Eatock High hopes at the TSO May 9: To find out what's new at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, I phone Michael Forrester, the TSO's Director of Marketing and Communications. As befits his position, he comes across as an optimistic fellow, and he fairly overflows with good news. "This week we surpassed our subscription sales from last year," he proudly announces, "and it's now only the middle of May. We'll be up 10 to 15 percent on the year." He goes on to tell me about the success of the orchestra's "TsouNDCHECK" - a promotion designed to attract young people that now has 3,000 members. He has high hopes for a fall advertising campaign aimed at this city's Chinese community, and he says the orchestra's million fundraising campaign (with a matching grant from Ottawa if the · target is reached by June 30) is going well. It all sounds very impressive for an orchestra that came dangerously close to insolvency last fall. May 11: At the Toronto Reference Library, I pick up a copy of the TSO's 2002/03 season br:ochure. Printed in just a few colours on nonglossy paper (a prudent approach for an organization that wishes to make a display of austerity), it begins with a statement pitching the TSO as "new," "improved" and "all yours." The CLASSICAL blurb is conspicuously unsigned - but as the orchestra currently has no music director, there isn't any appropriate person to sign it. So what does the TSO have to offer next year? The concert to re-open Roy Thomson Hall should be a blast, culminating in Walton's's Feast with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Yo­ Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, combining the music of East and West, certainly looks intriguing. And a program featuring pianist Martha Argerich (famous both for electrifying performarices and frequent cancellation8) adds an exciting element of risk to the season. As well, there are quite a few excellent Canadian soloists scheduled: baritone Russell Braun, sopranos Barbara Hannigan and Me;sha Bruggergosman, violinists James Ehnes and Leifa Josefowicz, pianists Louis Lortie, Oscar Peterson, Stewart Goodyear and Naida Cole, among others. Could this be because Canadian soloists are cheaper than big-name foreign stars? If so, it's temptil)g to think that the TSO should almost go bankrupt more often. Guest conductors pepper the brochure, including some who are probably in the running for the position of Music Director. While it's nice to fantasize about a Jiri Belohlavek or Eiji Oue taking the job, given the state of the TSO's finances it's probably more realistic to watch such relatively unknown young talents as Jun Marki or Asher Fisch. Also appearing as guests on the TSO's season will be the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec and Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra. For those iJ!terested in Canadian music, there are a number of home-grown works: by MacMillan, Cherney, Evangelista, Estacio, Morin, Applebaum arid Kulesha, plus a collaborative effort by Oscar Peterson and Michet LeGrand. As usual, most of the Canadian pieces played will be Toronto premieres (and probably Toronto demieres, as well - but that's another story). Rarer are compositions by living non-Canadians: I see only a clarinet concerto by Einojuhani Rautavaara and some songs by Oliver Knussen. Dominating the season, however, is a slew of concerts that follow an all-too-familiar model of orchestral programming: a short overture or introductory piece, a concerto and then a symphony. Wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air to see more alternatives to this hackneyed formula? May 15: During intermission at a TSO concert in Massey Hall I wander downstairs, where there's a small line-up at the subscription table. One customer is very anxious to book aisle seats for next season, as a box-office staffer tries to tell her that this may not be possible. So perhaps the much-beleaguered Toronto Symphony Orchestra really is on an upswing. Let's hope so. At this point it has nowhere to go but up - or out. Colin Eatock,, is a Toronto-based composer and journalist who frequently writes for The Globe and Mail. Oshawa-Durham Symphony Orchestra presents: Lara St. John • I In concert with ODSO, performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D. Major And Marco Parisotto, conductor and music director With .Oshawa-Durham Symphony In Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony Sunday, September 29 at 2:30 p.m. at George Weston Recital Hall, 5040 Yonge St., Toronto Tickets at the theatre or call TicketMaster at416-870-8000 Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m. , \ LARA ST. JOHN MARCO PARISOTTO at Calvary Baptist Church, 300 Rossland Road E. Oshawa. Oshawa tickets call 905-579-6711. 10 June 1 - July 7 2002

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