About the TSO
Established in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions. The TSO has distinguished itself as an active supporter of new Canadian and international works. Since 2008, the Orchestra has released eight recordings under its self-produced label tsoLive, and three recordings with Chandos Records. Over the past decade, the TSO has toured throughout Canada and internationally. Tour highlights include the Orchestra’s performance at Reykjavik’s Harpa Hall in 2014, and, more recently, the TSO’s first-ever performances in Israel and residency at the Prague Spring International Music Festival in 2017. Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall has been the TSO’s home since 1982. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (which is tuition free); and music-education programs that reach tens of thousands of students each year.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, throughout 2017, the TSO presented Canada Mosaic—a national celebration of our nation’s diverse musical landscape and a Canada 150 Signature Project. For this project, the Orchestra presented programming dedicated to showcasing the wealth of Canadian classical and popular music alongside new Canadian music—by acclaimed composers such as Mychael Danna, Nicole Lizée, Vincent Ho, Howard Shore, and Owen Pallett—and collaborated with more than 40 ensembles in every province and territory, as well as a diverse group of celebrated guest artists, from Tanya Tagaq to James Ehnes to Carly Rae Jepsen. These performances are recorded and are available, including as part of a free digital learning platform, at TSO.CA/CanadaMosaic.
The TSO was founded in 1922 by a group of Toronto musicians and Viennese-born conductor Luigi von Kunits. The New Symphony Orchestra, as it was then called, gave its first performance in April 1923 at Massey Hall. The name Toronto Symphony Orchestra was adopted four years later.
The Orchestra’s second season, in 1924/25, included the first orchestra concert for children, pioneering a focus on efforts towards programming for young people. Today, the TSO offers one of the largest educational programs in Canada, connecting students throughout Ontario with curriculum-based outreach.
Following the death of Luigi von Kunits in 1931, Sir Ernest MacMillan was appointed Music Director and would become the Orchestra’s longest-standing Music Director, presiding from 1931 until 1956. During MacMillan’s 25 seasons on the podium, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra soared in stature and scope, introducing Toronto audiences to then-contemporary composers such as Holst, Sibelius, and Stravinsky, who conducted the Orchestra in performances of his own music in 1937.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra developed an international presence through a history of touring to venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including a groundbreaking trip to China in 1978 as the first Canadian orchestra to be invited to enter the country after the Cultural Revolution. Under the leadership of Music Director Sir Andrew Davis (who continues to serve the TSO as Interim Artistic Director and Conductor Laureate), the Orchestra moved from Massey Hall to Roy Thomson Hall in 1982. During the 2001/02 season, Roy Thomson Hall underwent a successful interior renovation and the Roy Thomson Hall Acoustic Enhancement Project resulted in improved acoustics.
Throughout its history, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has welcomed some of the greatest international artists including James Ehnes, Barbara Hannigan, Maxim Vengerov, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Jessye Norman, Karen Kain, Yefim Bronfman, Angela Hewitt, Renée Fleming, Pinchas Zukerman, Lang Lang (in his first week-long residency program in North America), and actor Christopher Plummer. Renowned composers Henri Dutilleux, R. Murray Schafer, Aaron Copland, Phillip Glass, John Adams, Tan Dun, and George Benjamin, among many others, have been in attendance for the Orchestra’s presentations of their music.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Music Directors
Luigi von Kunits (1923–1931)
Sir Ernest MacMillan (1931–1956)
Walter Susskind (1957–1964)
Seiji Ozawa (1965–1969)
Karel Ančerl (1969–1972)
Victor Feldbrill Resident Conductor (1973–1975)
Sir Andrew Davis (1975–1988), Conductor Laureate (1988–present), Interim Artistic Director (2018–2020)
Gunther Herbig (1989–1994)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1994–2001)
Peter Oundjian (2004–2018), Conductor Emeritus (2018–present)
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