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Celebrating Peter Oundjian

May 23, 2018

June 2018 is a month-long tribute to Peter Oundjian, celebrating 14 remarkable seasons as Music Director, with stellar guest artists, powerful music, a free midday concert, and many emotions.

The month of June at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is a long tribute to Peter Oundjian, who will be honoured with the title of Conductor Emeritus when he completes his tenure as Music Director of the TSO at the end of the 2017/18 season. By then, Peter Oundjian will have served in the role for 14 seasons, the second-longest tenure in the TSO’s history, surpassed only by Sir Ernest MacMillan, who was at the helm of the TSO for 25 seasons. Over the course of his tenure, Oundjian has selected almost half of the current musicians of the Orchestra—including Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and two-thirds of the principal players. Since 2004, Peter Oundjian has led the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors, strengthening the ensemble’s presence in the world. Beginning with the 2019/20 season, Mr. Oundjian will return for a number of annual engagements, conducting the TSO at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the flagship Masterworks Series.

Celebrating Oundjian’s 14 remarkable seasons on the TSO podium, and an international concert career spanning decades, June at the TSO brings some of the Maestro’s closest collaborators and friends. The season culminates with three rousing performances of Beethoven’s mighty Symphony 9—a fitting finale for the dynamic and esteemed artistic leader.

“I have been surrounded with exceptional human beings, who have been kind and generous. I could walk into my library and look at many hundreds of scores, all of which have the potential to be very beautiful or very dramatic—but none of it is possible without the human beings,” says Peter Oundjian. “Being Music Director of the TSO will always be the most incredible highlight and privilege of my life.”

Throughout the entire month, Torontonians and audience members are invited to sign a commemorative book for Oundjian (stationed in the Roy Thomson Hall lobby) or visit to leave a message online.

Following Water Music and Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (two exquisite programs presented in early June), Peter Oundjian is on the podium—and in the spotlight—for the following concerts:

Brahms Symphony 1 (June 13 & 14) showcases one of the grandest of all symphonies. The evening also includes three dances from Bernstein’s jaunty, jazz-flavoured ballet, Fancy Free, and Gershwin’s captivating, bluesy Piano Concerto in F, featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who is widely considered to be one of today’s finest pianists. The June 13 concert is presented in partnership with Pride Toronto, and includes a pre-concert performance by Singing Out—Toronto’s LGBTQ+ and allies community chorus—in the lobby at 7:15pm.

On June 16, Russian piano sensation Daniil Trifonov joins Peter Oundjian and the TSO—for one night only—to perform Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3. The monumental work (one of the most challenging piano concertos in the classical repertoire) is framed by Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila, and the kaleidoscopic imagery of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

On June 20 & 23, in an evening entitled Ax Plays Mozart, pianist Emanuel Ax weaves his magic with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17. Oundjian also leads the Orchestra in one of the most achingly romantic of all symphonies—Mahler’s Symphony 9. The composer’s last completed work bids farewell to everything he held dear: love, the dances of the central European countryside, the bustle of the big city, and finally life itself.

On June 22 at 12:30pm, the TSO—in partnership with Roy Thomson Hall—presents Thank You, Toronto! In this free one-hour concert, Oundjian and the Orchestra show their gratitude to the people of Toronto by delivering an irresistible program of audience favourites (and a few surprises) that is sure to evoke some emotions.

On June 26, in Christopher Plummer’s Symphonic Shakespeare, the Academy and Tony Award–winning actor narrates a blend of Shakespeare’s immortal words from Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, The Tempest, and more, with music by many of the great composers who were inspired by their magic, such as Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams, Prokofiev, and Beethoven.

Beethoven Symphony 9 is one of the enduring icons of music. On June 28, 29 & 30, Peter Oundjian concludes his 14-year term as Music Director with this stirring testament to joy and brotherhood. An all-Canadian cast comprising soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal, tenor Andrew Haji, and baritone Tyler Duncan comes together with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Orchestra.

Other June concerts:

Water Music on June 2 & 3, led by guest conductor Christoph Altstaedt, features music inspired by water, such as the famous Blue Danube Waltz, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, and Smetana’s beloved work “The Moldau”. Schubert’s Die Forelle (for soprano and orchestra) spotlights Canadian soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, whose voice also soars in Dvořák’s beautiful “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka.

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, on June 8 & 9, brings back Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard and highlights the extraordinary talent of Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman. Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, with its lush orchestration, and Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde complete the program.

The TSO Season Presenting Sponsor is BMO Financial Group.
The 2017/18 season is dedicated to H. Thomas Beck in recognition of his vital and long-standing support of the TSO.

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