Toronto, ON—September 20, 2022—Just in time for the launch of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s momentous 100th-anniversary concert season, seven new musicians join the ensemble’s roster, including two principals (viola and librarian), an associate principal (oboe), a violin, and three cellos—expanding the section by a full third. This follows a rigorous audition process which draws in hundreds of applicants from around the world, and incorporates a blind audition, where would-be Orchestra members perform behind a screen and are evaluated solely on their artistry and technical skills.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Michael, Christopher, Alex, Luri, Song Hee, Oleksander, and Lucia to the Orchestra,” says TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. “These musicians demonstrated their immense talents during their auditions—but our collective musical journey is just beginning. I’m very excited for us all to get to know each other, learn to understand one another, and integrate our music-making together, now and in the years to come.”
Meet the new players:
First-place winner of the 2013 Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition, and second-place winner of the 2015 and 2011 Sphinx Competitions, Michael was a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, has guested as principal and co-principal of the London Philharmonic, and has performed with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and others. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. In addition to classical music, Michael likes to explore other genres. He can be heard on the soundtracks for The Lion King (2019) and Space Jam: A New Legacy, and has composed the music for a mobile game.
Before coming to Toronto, Christopher was the librarian for the Victoria Symphony. Other past appointments include Victoria Engagement Leader for the Canadian Music Centre and New Music Curator for Open Space Arts Society. With degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University (theory and composition) and the University of Victoria (composition), Christopher served as president of the Canadian League of Composers from 2016 to 2020. When not working on orchestral librarian tasks, he can be found composing or performing contemporary experimental music with his friends.
Currently second oboe with Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, Alex was previously a freelance player with nearly every orchestra in the Chicago area, acting assistant principal oboe and English horn with the North Carolina Symphony, and guest principal oboe with the Chilean State Opera and Ballet Orchestra. He obtained a degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and has studied under titled musicians from The Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet, and the LA Phil. Alex is passionate about composing and arranging, and new arrangements of early music adapted for the oboe/oboe d’amore are featured on his solo album, A New Renaissance.
With playing hailed as “spotlessly clean and with never a routine phrase” (The Calgary Herald), Luri has appeared as a soloist with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and she is a founding member of the multi-award-winning Rolston String Quartet, whose début album, Souvenirs, was named 2020 Recording of the Year by BBC Music Magazine. Her diverse chamber music career has led to performances at venues including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Koerner Hall, and Wigmore Hall, and quartet residences at Rice and Yale Universities. During her spare time, Luri loves to travel with her husband, violist Hezekiah Leung, exploring and finding hidden food gems.
A former principal cellist with the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the orchestras of three prestigious American music schools, Song Hee also served as a guest or assistant principal for three Korean orchestras during the pandemic. She is a recipient of a Verbier Festival Award; has collaborated with esteemed artists including Menahem Pressler, Kurt Masur, and James Conlon; and frequently performs in both the US and South Korea. An alumna of Colburn School, Song Hee received degrees from the Manhattan School of Music (on a full scholarship) and The Juilliard School. In addition to the cello, she loves coffee, baking cakes and cookies, playing golf, swimming, sunbathing, and animals.
Oleksander enjoys a multi-faceted career as a solo, chamber, and orchestral performer and teacher. In addition to degrees from the University of Toronto and McGill, he holds a PhD in musical arts from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and co-authored PracticeMind: The Complete Practice Model—an instructional guide for string players. During his time at Northwestern, Oleksander was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and regularly performed as a substitute cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Philharmonic. He is thrilled to return to Toronto, where he looks forward to teaching, performing, writing, and running along the lakefront.
Chicago native Lucia has played with the Colorado Music Festival for the past two seasons and has also appeared as a substitute for the Houston Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Classical Tahoe Orchestra. An advocate and enthusiast for new music, she has also appeared with Loop38, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, AXIOM, the New Juilliard Ensemble, and the Shepherd School Contemporary Ensemble. Lucia attended Columbia University, The Juilliard School, and Rice University, and is a dedicated teacher whose students have been accepted to competitive programs at highly respected music schools. She is also committed to expanding music education in K–12 classrooms.
“This season, as we continue our centennial celebrations, the TSO finds itself at the threshold of a new century—it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and reflect on all that we have accomplished. At the same time, it’s a moment to focus on the future of the Orchestra—our next 100 years” says TSO Chief Executive Officer Mark Williams, “I find it incredibly fitting that these seven gifted artists, who represent the next generation of music-makers, are joining us. I look forward to the ways their varied backgrounds, experiences, and insights will benefit the Orchestra, and in turn, how the Orchestra will continue to grow and deepen its service to this wonderful city.”
It won’t take long for these artists to make themselves known to TSO audiences: Alex Liedke is scheduled to play the very first note of the 2022/23 season—the “A” that will guide the rest of the Orchestra’s tuning. Michael Casimir will be joining The TSO Chamber Soloists, curated by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow, in their pre-concert performance on October 15. And, naturally, all new musicians will regularly perform as part of the full Orchestra throughout this milestone season.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra inaugurates its season-long Centennial Celebration on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, with Masterworks performance Gimeno Conducts Chopin & Scheherazade.
About the TSO
One of Canada’s most respected arts organizations, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is celebrating its centennial season in 2022/23, and has played a vital role in the city’s dynamic cultural life for 100 years. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the 93-musician Orchestra. The TSO is committed to serving local and national communities through vibrant performances, extensive educational activities, and impactful community relationships. It has a notable recording and broadcast history and has been celebrated internationally during its many tours. The TSO remains synonymous with musical versatility and growth, and artistic distinction.
The TSO acknowledges Mary Beck as the Musicians’ Patron in perpetuity for her generous and longstanding support.
The TSO Season Presenting Sponsor is BMO Financial Group.
Gustavo Gimeno's appearances are generously supported by Susan Brenninkmeyer, in memory of Hans Brenninkmeyer.
The TSO is grateful for the support of the Toronto Symphony Foundation and all levels of government, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario.
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Toronto Symphony Orchestra