Join us in reflecting on a year of transformative performances and deepened bonds with our community. Read heartfelt letters from our Beck Family Chief Executive Officer, Board Chair, and Music Director, reminiscing on a season filled with harmonious connections.
Message from Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director
Leading the Toronto Symphony Orchestra during its Centennial was, without question, one of the most magnificent experiences of my career.
This is partly due to the fact that the 2022/23 season as a whole embodied the very philosophy that guides my programming—the belief that something wondrous occurs when the well-established and the thrillingly novel come together. Indeed, the most notable moments of our year-long celebration, which so many members of the TSO family shared with us, paid tribute to our storied past while simultaneously breaking new artistic ground.
Some returns and reunions for the orchestra were débuts and first encounters for me. These included our special concert at the TSO’s original home of Massey Hall, our Gala evening with the extraordinary Yo-Yo Ma and multi-award-winning artist Jeremy Dutcher, from Tobique First Nation, and our unforgettable Carnegie Hall appearance during our inaugural tour together.
The reverse was also true, as I was privileged to introduce the orchestra and our audiences to a number of wonderful musicians I’ve known for years, such as violinist María Dueñas and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, a TSO Spotlight Artist. We also had the opportunity to deepen our relationships with returning guest artists like pianist Yuja Wang, also a TSO Spotlight Artist, and violinist Augustin Hadelich, both of whom, like Queyras, appeared in multiple programs throughout the season.
As for the music, numerous concerts featured time-honoured works — Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 among them — while some experiences were marvellously new for all of us. I’m thinking especially of our début at Chicago’s renowned Symphony Center, our first presentation of a Masterworks Relaxed Performance for neurodiverse patrons, and our premières of vital works by, among others, Unsuk Chin, Daníel Bjarnason, Magnus Lindberg, and our own Gary Kulesha and Alison Yun-Fei Jiang. Our Celebration Preludes also deserve special mention: commissioned from talented GTA composers of diverse cultural backgrounds, these creations provided an enticing glimpse into the future of Canadian music.
The orchestra brought every piece vividly to life. The versatility and refinement of our musicians always amazes me, and it will be my delight to continue to work closely with each of them in the years to come. Their equally impressive talents as chamber musicians were also on full display at The TSO Chamber Soloists pre-concert performances throughout the year, curated by our outstanding Concertmaster, Jonathan Crow.
The successes of the Centennial are a credit to the passion and deep commitment of my colleagues on the Artistic Leadership team. Thank you to Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis, Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Composer Advisor Gary Kulesha, RBC Affiliate Composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, and RBC Resident Conductor Trevor Wilson. I also wish to highlight the accomplishments of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by TSYO Conductor Simon Rivard, which is commemorating its 50th anniversary throughout 2023/24.
The youth orchestra is part of our extensive lineup of talent-development programs nurturing Canadian artists at different stages of their lives and careers, and it was my honour to take part in some of these initiatives in 2022/23. I mentored the TSO’s three NextGen Composers over the course of the season, as they worked on pieces to be premièred in the final concert, and I was a Conducting Advisor for Women in Musical Leadership, a fellowship in partnership with Tapestry Opera that supports emerging women and non-binary conductors and music directors. Such collaborations are tangible examples of how we’re working as an organization to increase equity and representation in the classical music field.
We can also see the orchestra’s impact in its growing network of friends and supporters. It was a pleasure to personally meet and connect with the TSO’s many donors, patrons, and volunteers on tour and at events throughout the Centennial. I deeply appreciate the loyalty, generosity, and open-mindedness you consistently demonstrate, and I look forward to forming even deeper connections with my TSO family this year.
As we head into Year 101 together, I want to thank one family of supporters in particular—the Becks. The late Mary Beck is our Musicians’ Patron in recognition of her steadfast commitment to this orchestra, and the late Tom Beck, former TSO Board Chair, is an Honorary Musician. I wish I had gotten the chance to know them. On behalf of all the musicians of the TSO, thank you, Beck Family, for your unwavering belief in the power of the music we make—and in the future of our magnificent orchestra.
To all of our supporters—thank you. We at the TSO are honoured to have you join us on the next stage of our musical journey.
The versatility and refinement of our musicians always amazes me, and it will be my delight to continue to work closely with each of them in the years to come.
Message from Mark Williams, Beck Family Chief Executive Officer
Of the many revelatory moments that comprised the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s extraordinary 100th-anniversary season, there was one in particular that impacted me more than any other: During our first-ever Relaxed Performance of a Masterworks program, I took a moment to look out over the audience. What I saw and felt was pure joy—radiating not only from the members of the neurodiverse and disabled communities in attendance, but also from their families and caregivers. A whole world that was previously inaccessible to them had been opened up, and I understood more clearly than ever before what it means to truly welcome everyone to experience our music and our world. It is not just something we do; it must be the essence of who we are.
This concert is just one example of how our Centennial year fostered new and deeper connections between the TSO and our communities. We made great strides toward solidifying our role as Toronto’s symphony orchestra—everything we do leads to this goal. And if we are to succeed in serving this city, widely recognized as the most diverse in the world, then there’s no question that we must actively champion diversity as an organization. This is why I’m proud of the foundational work we did last season to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space, where all can enjoy meaningful artistic experiences.
In addition to our Relaxed Performances, such experiences included an array of other community-engagement initiatives. The season began with our inaugural Open House & Free Concert, where we welcomed close to 4,000 Torontonians to Roy Thomson Hall, many for the first time. Art of Healing, our partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, supported First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients through musical storytelling and composition.
For a third year, our TSOUND Connections program provided engaging online performances to seniors in long-term-care and retirement residences, and assisted-living homes, reducing the effects of social isolation. We made our Brampton début with Reggae Roots, an all-ages concert that reflected our drive to explore different forms of musical expression, and to introduce ourselves to new audiences. Thorgy Thor and the Thorchestra, an official Pride Toronto event, featured the TSO’s first drag headliner, the “Queen of Classical Music” herself from RuPaul’s Drag Race. And we performed a free outdoor Canada Day concert at Harbourfront Centre as a triumphant coda to our Centennial.
Instilling a passion for music in the next generation is a core part of our mission, and 2022/23 saw the resumption of our in-person School Concerts after a two-and-a-half-year pause. Morning with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, our series of Open Rehearsals for high-school music classes, was offered live and virtually, giving students across the province an inspiring behind-the-scenes look at how the orchestra and acclaimed artists like Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Jean-Guihen Queyras prepare for concerts. These same musicians also led master classes for members of our Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, whose 49th season was filled with stellar performances and enriching activities both musical and social.
We were able to extend our reach in other significant ways too. In February, our highly successful tour to New York’s Carnegie Hall, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, and Chicago’s Symphony Center allowed us to again carry the torch for Canadian music at home and abroad. And our soon-to-be released recording of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie reaches into our past and our future, paying homage to our iconic 1968 recording of the same piece under our legendary former artistic leader Seiji Ozawa while also marking Gustavo Gimeno’s first recording with the TSO—one that will enthrall listeners for years to come.
These milestones, investments throughout our Toronto communities, are only possible thanks to our devoted community of supporters. Indeed, ongoing philanthropic support coupled with prudent financial management meant we closed the fiscal year with a $30K surplus. A sizable portion of this was raised through our matching-gift campaign, generously sponsored once again by Francine and Bob Barrett. Gustavo’s appearances throughout the season were supported by Susan Brenninkmeyer, in memory of her husband, Hans Brenninkmeyer. Long-standing supporters Sheryl and David Kerr and Margie and Peter Kelk gave very generous gifts, sponsoring our Principal Bassoon Chair and new commissions, respectively. And our Maestro’s Club Spring Dinner, held for the first time in several years, brought our most generous supporters together in celebration of the TSO. It’s not guaranteed that any organization will remain in the black year after year, so we are immensely appreciative that our donors continue to invest in the future of this great orchestra.
I’d like to take this opportunity as well to thank the Beck Family. Their extraordinary generosity this year brings the family’s giving to more than $50 million, which includes approximately $30 million from the Estate of H. Thomas and Mary Beck since 2018. And now two new endowments have been established to support the TSO: the Cathy and Liddy Beck Principal Oboe Chair, and the Beck Family Chief Executive Officer. The Beck Family’s long-standing commitment to this city has been exemplified by their unwavering support of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and our mission to serve this community with extraordinary and meaningful musical experiences. Their contributions to the TSO significantly amplify our reach and ability to bring music to Toronto’s diverse communities and to those who need it the most. Personally, I am honoured that, as a part of this legacy, I will be the inaugural Beck Family CEO. The Beck Family has been incredibly generous in every conceivable way — our dearest friend and truest ally — and I deeply value the confidence that they have placed in the TSO to be a home for every Torontonian, for generations to come.
I express as well my sincere gratitude to the TSO Board of Directors and our indefatigable Board Chair, Cathy Beck. The Board’s collective wisdom, knowledge, and good judgment contributed to the achievements of our monumental year in ways that can’t be measured.
Similarly immeasurable is the remarkable expertise of my colleagues on the TSO’s staff. I’d like to thank them all for working diligently behind the scenes to make last season simply spectacular.
Of course, at the centre of it all, on brilliant display, were the superb musicians of our orchestra and our phenomenal Music Director, Gustavo Gimeno. I am consistently awed by the prodigious artistry reflected in absolutely everything they play—from immortal symphonic works to beloved Broadway songs to epic film scores. And it’s been such a pleasure to partner with Gustavo, whose creative vision for the TSO I share wholeheartedly and which I look forward to bringing to fruition.
My deepest gratitude goes to our patrons, donors, and volunteers. Our Year 101 performances have been positively electric, and it is your support that makes the energy flow through the concert hall, into the city, and beyond.
Beck Family Chief Executive Officer
I’m proud of the foundational work we did last season to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space, where all can enjoy meaningful artistic experiences.
Message from Catherine Beck, Board Chair
In our long-awaited Centennial year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra honoured and augmented its rich history as one of this city’s most cherished and important cultural institutions, and at the same time made overtures toward an even more promising future. I have never been prouder of my affiliation with this organization than during the many celebratory events and performances we shared with our audiences.
Though the season was full of highlights, the most notable for me were those that crossed venues, cities, and communities. We built ties with curious music lovers by opening the doors of Roy Thomson Hall for our inaugural Open House & Free Concert, featuring a program that reflected our city at its best—surprising, inventive, new. We returned to our old home, Massey Hall, bridging past and present, presenting a powerful concert for audience and musicians alike. And the orchestra’s first tour under the leadership of Gustavo Gimeno — with concerts at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall — was a brilliant success. The exuberance of our audiences, most of whom were listening to our orchestra for the first time, was truly gratifying.
Over my seven years as Chair of the TSO Board of Directors, I have seen theorchestra’s artistry become more refined, imaginative, confident—all in tandem with our expanding role throughout Toronto’s communities. The credit for continuing this trajectory is largely due to the expert leadership of Music Director Gustavo Gimeno and Chief Executive Officer Mark Williams—to both, I am extremely grateful.
In his three years on the TSO podium, Gustavo has earned the trust and admiration of our musicians and audiences, which is why the Board was pleased to extend his contract through the 2029/30 season. One of Gustavo’s most fervent champions was the late Susan Brenninkmeyer; she enthusiastically supported all his appearances in memory of her husband, Hans.
In his first full season as our administrative head, Mark has actively engaged with new and established communities throughout our city, and our orchestra and staff have enthusiastically bolstered this goal. I admire Mark’s curiosity, his willingness to push the symphony orchestra’s boundaries, and I’m as eager as you to see how our institution grows under his guidance.
I gratefully acknowledge my fellow Board members who, out of deep affection for the TSO and the difference it makes in people’s lives, willingly devote their valuable time and attention to ensure it flourishes. I am similarly grateful to Toronto Symphony Foundation Chair Jeannine LiChong and the Foundation Trustees for their stewardship.
The Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee marked its own centennial in June. Since 1923, the TSVC has raised more than $42 million for the TSO, and its contributions range from the first endowed orchestra chair in Canada to two Steinway grand pianos. Our volunteers continue to be faithful friends and ambassadors.
I would also like to acknowledge the passion, dedication, and advocacy of the volunteer members of the Honorary Governors, Young Leadership Council, and Maestro’s Club Ambassadors.
To our partners at all levels of government — the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario — and to BMO Financial Group, the TSO’s long-time Season Presenting Sponsor: thank you.
To the great many donors and patrons who have made the Toronto Symphony Orchestra a part of your lives—you are the bedrock of this institution. Whether you’re a veteran supporter or have newly joined our cause, you help to sustain us, century after century.
My last note is a personal one. My brother, sister, and I are grateful and joyful to endow the TSO’s Principal Oboe Chair and the CEO position in our family’s name, to go along with the Tom Beck Concertmaster Chair. Like our parents, we believe a fantastic city deserves — and needs — a fantastic symphony orchestra. I hope we inspire others to invest in the future of this institution that means so much to the people of Toronto.
Chair, Board of Directors
I have never been prouder of my affiliation with this organization than during the many celebratory events and performances we shared with our audiences.