This morning, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra announced its concert lineup for 2012-13. Once again, the chairman of the TSO’s board of directors thanked the orchestra’s sponsors and TSO music director Peter Oundjian outlined the coming season. That’s how it’s done.
But amid all the standard protocols and procedures at a season announcement, it’s sometimes possible to detect undercurrents that suggest some kind of directional flow in the orchestral river.
For instance, there are about half a dozen Canadian works next year – no more or less than one might expect. But, remarkably, two of them – Triptyque by Pierre Mercure and Sinfonietta for Strings by Oskar Morawetz – are by composers who have been dead for quite a few years. Does this mean that some sense of a repertoire is starting to take hold in Canadian orchestral music? Possibly even the beginnings of a canon? Are we finally learning that you don’t have to discard a Canadian piece after it’s played once or twice?
Oundjian proudly pointed out that one new work in 2012-13 – Edgar Meyer’s Concerto for Violin and Double Bass – is as co-commission by four ensembles: the TSO, and the orchestras of Boston, Los Angles and Nashville. As well, there’s also a Violin Concerto by Owen Pallett that was co-commissioned by the TSO and London’s Barbican Centre. So it looks like co-commissions are very much on the TSO’s radar these days.
What other trends are evident? “Visual elements added to performance” rated an entire paragraph in the press release. The TSO will play the score of Bernstein’s West Side Story, accompanying a screening of the film, with original vocals and dialogue. As well, there will be projected images to accompany Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and a “photo-choreographed” performance of Smetana’s Ma Vlast – a co-production with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Speaking of the RSNO, after the press conference I asked Maestro Oundjian about how he’ll be balancing his new job as music director of Scotland’s national orchestra (which he starts in the fall) with his duties at the TSO. He told me that he expects to spend about eight weeks of the year in Scotland, in addition to a dozen in Toronto. As well, to make time for his two orchestras, he’s cut back on his guest-conducting engagements.
One more thing: as I was leaving Roy Thomson Hall, I stopped to admire a handsome display of 16 posters of TSO musicians, by photographer Sian Richards. They’re in the 2012-13 program book – and I hope the TSO can also splash them around town. It looks like the Toronto Symphony read one of my recent blogs (here), and has decided to take my advice.
© Colin Eatock 2012