2021/22 Annual Letter to the Community
Message from Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director
It was a long-awaited pleasure to lead the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as your Music Director in the 2021/22 concert season and an immense joy to share live music with you. Toronto Symphony Orchestra patrons stand out for their warmth, enthusiasm, and curiosity, and we feel this connection deeply when we are performing for you.
Each season at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, we showcase the highest calibre of musicians—both of local renown and of international stature—in works that feature the world’s greatest composers, including emerging and new talent. This past season included Francisco Coll’s Elysian, Samy Moussa’s Symphony No. 2, Zosha Di Castri’s In the half-light, and five Celebration Preludes we commissioned from Toronto-based composers, alongside works from Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky, and Brahms. We began engaging more earnestly with Indigenous artists in our city and beyond, releasing a digital reimagining of Mistatim in partnership with Red Sky Performance and performing Barbara Assiginaak’s meditative Innenohr (Inner Ear), a TSO Co-commission.
An important part of what we do is pave the way for the future of orchestral music. I was excited to work closely with Roydon Tse, Bekah Simms, and Adam Scime as part of our NextGen Composer program, promoting the next generation of accomplished orchestral composers, and with Jennifer Tung and Juliane Gallant as part of the Women in Musical Leadership national conducting fellowship to mentor women conductors, in partnership with Tapestry Opera. The young musicians of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra continue to bring incredible energy and enthusiasm to the stage, and it was a pleasure to be on the podium to conduct these two wonderful orchestras at our annual TSO/TSYO side-by-side concert.
As the Toronto Symphony Orchestra entered its 100th year, it was deeply moving to share the stage with former Music Directors Sir Andrew Davis, Günther Herbig, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Peter Oundjian for Celebrate 100: Maestros’ Special Homecoming in April. This unique moment was a joyous celebration of who we are—a vibrant and continuously evolving orchestra with deep musical roots. The event particularly resonated with me because it was clear how meaningfully connected our patrons are to our legacy, and to our musicians.
I want to thank my colleagues in Artistic Leadership at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for their artistry, vision, and inspiring musicianship: Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Composer Advisor Gary Kulesha, RBC Affiliate Composer Emilie LeBel, and RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard.
Lastly, I want to thank you, our beloved donors, patrons, and volunteers. You are the heart and soul of all that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is and does. We do this for you, and we could not do it without you.
I look forward to seeing you throughout our 2022/23 100th-anniversary season. I cannot wait for what we will create, together.
This unique moment was a joyous celebration of who we are—a vibrant and continuously evolving orchestra with deep musical roots.
Message from Mark Williams, Chief Executive Officer
It has been an extraordinary honour to join the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as your new Chief Executive Officer, as the Orchestra heads into its next inspired 100 years. The Toronto Symphony’s 2021/22 season began with enforced capacity limits on both audience and musicians, and concluded with the glorious sounds of the full Orchestra, soloists, and chorus in triumphant performances of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, led by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno.
As we look forward to the next season of unforgettable performances, the next decade of deepening community engagement, and the next century of artistic excellence, I see an orchestra with ever-growing impact here in our home city of Toronto, and around the world. The circumstance of the past seasons offered the Toronto Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to think expansively and act boldly in bringing music to our patrons in new ways: from performances at drive-ins, to digital concerts and community engagement, many of these initiatives this past year have fundamentally shaped how we think of ourselves as Toronto’s symphony orchestra.
The Toronto Symphony closed the fiscal year with a surplus of $901K, which resulted in an accumulated surplus of $781K. This marks a significant milestone: thanks to the steadfast support of many generous donors over the years, transformational bequests, and sound fiscal management, we retired a historical, accumulated deficit that previously hampered the organization’s ambitions. It feels fitting that we enter our next century with a clean slate and better positioned to weather the challenges to come as we collectively rebuild and adjust to our post-pandemic reality.
In our 2021/22 season, we brought orchestral music to many in our community who have not previously been members of our audiences, including new Canadians through the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and youth from the YMCA’s Black Achievers Program. Knowing the well-established link between music, health, and well-being, we partnered with the Alzheimer Society of Peel and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, bringing music to health-care workers, and to isolated seniors and their caregivers through intimate digital concerts. Our musicians made personal connections with so many in our community, reaffirming the strong and ever-deepening connection between Toronto and its phenomenal orchestra.
We continued our long-standing commitment to educating young people with our many digital offerings, including Zoophony—an entertaining collaboration with the Toronto Zoo that explored the relationship between music and animal communication. Our digital classroom concerts reached thousands of students and their teachers across Ontario. And the nimble members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra rehearsed virtually before coming together to close their season with exciting side-by-side performances with Gustavo Gimeno and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the spring.
Last year, we undertook an extensive equity, diversity, and inclusion engagement process to better understand the work ahead, and have formed a cross-constituency committee to lead our institutional evolution and hold us accountable. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is committed to being a leader in the arts community, and we will continue in this important work to be more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming to our patrons, volunteers, musicians, and staff.
None of our successes would be possible without the dedicated leadership of our Board of Directors, led by Chair Cathy Beck. The Board’s expertise and commitment to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ongoing impact has helped the organization to navigate uncharted terrain and prepare for tremendous growth and opportunity in the years to come.
I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to our government partners, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Support from all three levels of government has been instrumental in sustaining our musical efforts and helping to regain our financial footing.
The professional staff who work tirelessly year-round are truly exceptional and gifted colleagues. Their commitment to our mission is unparalleled, and I am grateful to work alongside them every day.
I want to thank Music Director Gustavo Gimeno for his brilliant artistic leadership. Gustavo continues to lead the Orchestra with innovation and grace, and remains committed to serving this richly diverse, international city through music.
Thank you to the supremely talented and hard-working members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra who inspire me with their artistry, their creativity, their resilience, and the sheer beauty of their playing.
And most importantly, I thank you—our donors, volunteers, and patrons—who believe so deeply in the work we do. Everything we accomplish is for you, and your support is an ongoing source of confidence as we move into our next century of phenomenal orchestral music. Thank you.
Chief Executive Officer
The circumstance of the past seasons offered the Toronto Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to think expansively and act boldly in bringing music to our patrons in new ways.
Message from Catherine Beck, Board Chair
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s 100th season was also Year One for our next century. For all the challenges we faced and opportunities we created over the past 100 years, nothing compares to the context in which our musicians and staff performed last season, and I am confident in saying that the experience of hearing live symphonic music in a concert hall has never been as vital and uplifting to our audiences as it was in 2021/22.
Thank you to our donors and patrons—those who have renewed their links to us and those who have joined us for the first time this year. Your support and presence directly and positively affects the music that comes from our stage and augments our ability to reach a wider community throughout the city.
Our musicians are at the heart of our organization, and, as an ensemble, they have reached new heights of artistic excellence and collective self-fulfillment under the direction of Gustavo Gimeno. I thank these two parties and our staff, specifically Roberta Smith, Acting CEO this past year and a stalwart of our institution. At the same time, I enthusiastically welcome Mark Williams as our CEO. He brings deep experience from his previous work with symphony orchestras and the ability to execute an ambitious vision of what the Toronto Symphony Orchestra can be for all Torontonians.
I am grateful to my fellow Board members who donate their time and their support because of their passion for the Orchestra, the institution, and the community. I thank John Sherrington, Chair of the Toronto Symphony Foundation, for his stewardship and dedication, and BMO for their long-standing TSO commitment and recent three-year renewal of their season sponsorship. And we are always grateful for the critical support of our government partners.
To our audience—inside the concert hall, at home, online, and in the classroom—we have more to offer in this extended Centennial Celebration: our open house, our gala with Yo-Yo Ma in November, and our tour of New York, Chicago, and Ottawa are some of the 2022/23 season’s many highlights. We will continue reaching you however we can and will always endeavour to bring you the spirit of awe, joy, and gratitude that took us through this extraordinary year.
Chair, Board of Directors
The experience of hearing live symphonic music in a concert hall has never been as vital and uplifting to our audiences as it was in 2021/22.
Audited Financial Statements
Philanthropy at a Glance
Board of Directors, Toronto Symphony Foundation Trustees, Young Leadership Council & Maestro’s Club Ambassadors
Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee Board & Honorary Governors
Members of the Orchestra
TSO Donors: Annual & Cumulative Giving
Government Support & Corporate Partners
- “I Was Hired in 2019 to Lead the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. After Almost Three Years, I’m Finally Making My Official Onstage Debut” (Toronto Life)
- Gary Kulesha & Sandra Laronde Discuss Mistatim—A Collaboration between the TSO and Red Sky Performance (ELMNT FM Moment of Truth)
- Musical Moment: Listen to TSO Double Basses Timothy Dawson and Paul Rogers Play a Special Piece at Toronto Zoo (Toronto Star)
- “It’s So Nice to See You”—TSO and National Ballet Welcome Back In-Person Audiences for the First Time in More than 20 Months (Toronto Star)
- The Toronto Symphony Gets the Band Back Together (Ludwig van Toronto)
- How TSO’s Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser Is Tearing Down Barriers, One Symphony at a Time (ByBlacks.com)
- TSO Shines with Moussa Premiere & Garrick Ohlsson in Emperor Concerto (Ludwig van Toronto)
- Exclusive: Conductor Steven Reineke Talks “The Best of John Williams” (Horror Geek Life)
- Toronto Relays: Baton Passed Around as Five Directors Cross Podium (Classical Voice North America)