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February at the TSO

January 16, 2019

Sir Andrew Davis, Barbara Hannigan, Thomas Dausgaard, and Alisa Weilerstein

The month of February at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) marks the returns of singer & conductor Barbara Hannigan, superstar cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Moreover, Interim Artistic Director Sir Andrew Davis celebrates his birthday on the TSO podium, and some principal players from the Orchestra—Jonathan Crow, Joseph Johnson, and Kelly Zimba—take centre stage performing Brahms and Debussy.

On January 31 & February 2, Sir Andrew Davis Conducts Wagner features the first act of Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), the second opera in Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelungs cycle. This Wagner-in-concert presentation (sung in German with English surtitles) marks TSO débuts for three of today’s finest singers—all acclaimed Wagner interpreters: Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill, and British bass Brindley Sherratt. Alban Berg’s monumental Three Pieces for Orchestra, with their inventive, First World War–era transfigurations of such traditional forms as the march, provide a dramatic prelude. Sir Andrew Davis, who turns 75 on February 2, is thrilled to celebrate his birthday with his TSO family.

With Brahms & Dvořák (February 6, 7 & 9), the TSO brings forward the remarkable talents of Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and Principal Cello Joseph Johnson, who team up for Brahms’s Double Concerto. Sir Andrew Davis is at the helm of the TSO again for this program that also includes Dvořák’s folk-flavoured Sixth Symphony. Playing side by side to form an impressive “super orchestra,” the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) and the TSO play Oskar Morawetz’s Carnival Overture.

On February 13 & 14, Barbara Hannigan Sings & Conducts stars the GRAMMY® Award–winner Barbara Hannigan, who made her North American conducting début with the TSO in 2015. Once again, she displays her astonishing versatility and skills in a program that showcases her talent as both a singer and a conductor. Whether she is conducting Haydn or Berg, or leading the Orchestra while she’s singing Sibelius or Gershwin—the concert includes the stunning Suite from Girl Crazy by Gershwin/arr. Bill Elliott—the multi-faceted Canadian artist never fails to amaze her admiring audiences. The concert opens with Debussy’s ethereal Syrinx, featuring the TSO’s Principal Flute, Kelly Zimba. On February 14, The TSO Chamber Soloists present Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) for String Sextet. This pre-concert performance in the auditorium at 6:45pm is included with the price of a TSO concert ticket.

Striking a romantic chord around Valentine’s Day, the TSO brings back Casablanca: Film with Live Orchestra. On February 15 & 16, the Orchestra performs Max Steiner’s glorious score live under the musical direction of Evan Mitchell as the classic romantic film is projected on the large screen. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman head the cast of the movie that won three Oscars, including best picture.

Returning to the George Weston Recital Hall (Toronto Centre for the Arts) on February 17, RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard and the young, fervent musicians of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) continue celebrating their 45th season with a heart-warming program for their Winter Concert. Works by Morawetz and Rachmaninoff showcase the orchestra, while violinist Hannah Corbett—2017/18 TSYO Concerto Competition Winner—takes the spotlight for an excerpt from Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.

On February 20 & 21, American cellist Alisa Weilerstein makes an anticipated return to the TSO stage. Combining astounding technique with heartfelt musicianship, she performs Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. The TSO also welcomes back the acclaimed Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard who leads the Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Bartók’s last completed work is an effervescent celebration of life that places the entire orchestra in the spotlight. The concert begins with the expressive prelude to the 1920s opera Antikrist by Danish composer Rued Langgaard.

The TSO welcomes back Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra on February 23 with a program entitled Romantic Chopin, under the baton of Music Director Alexander Shelley. The evening includes Robert Schumann’s refreshing “Spring” Symphony, Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto performed by French pianist David Fray, and Cobalt by Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock—featuring violinists Yosuke Kawasaki and Jessica Linnebach.

On February 23 (2:00pm & 4:00pm), the TSO joins forces with The Second City and host Kevin Frank to present Play It by Ear! In the spirit of J.S. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven—who regularly competed with other composers at the keyboard by improvising music based on themes suggested by the audience—this uniquely interactive concert demonstrates improvisatory technique in a delightfully funny way and includes performances of beloved orchestral works that were created through improvisation. TSO Resident Conductor Simon Rivard is on the podium.

The TSO Season Presenting Sponsor is BMO Financial Group.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto.

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