Shortly after Halloween, excited (and sugar-saturated) students in Grades 7–12 from schools across the GTA were served another sweet treat—this one musical—by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as we kicked off our 2022/23 School Concerts with a truly inventive program.
Hosted and conducted by Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, this one-hour experience, entitled Moments, combined live music with documentary video in a manner that invited the young audiences to get to know the musicians of Toronto’s hometown orchestra in an entirely new way.
Designed around the idea that each performance is full of important moments, big and small, for everyone on stage, the concert interspersed selections from a wide variety of orchestral composers—both canonical (like Vivaldi, Brahms, and Prokofiev) and contemporary (including John Williams, Jonathan Bingham, and Kevin Puts)—with pre-recorded interviews with Daniel and members of the Orchestra, who shared their thoughts and tips on how to approach such moments.
While many TSO musicians appeared on screen, three soloists from different sections of the Orchestra—Principal Clarinet Eric Abramovitz, Acting Principal Second Violin Eri Kosaka, and Percussion/Assistant Principal Timpani Joseph Kelly—took the spotlight. They spoke about their individual experiences; explained how they prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for pressure-filled performances; and described the challenging solo parts they would perform—which they did, live, right after their respective video segments. It’s our hope that the students left Roy Thomson Hall entertained and equipped with newfound knowledge they can use to face their own big moments, musical or otherwise.
Moments will be offered again on April 3 and 4, and two more School Concerts for different age groups will be presented this season as well: For Grades K–4, we’re donning The Hockey Sweater from January 31 to February 2. A TSO Co-commission, this program brings Roch Carrier’s iconic Canadian story to life through the music of Abigail Richardson-Schulte and narration by the author himself. On April 11 and 12, we’re digging into Reggae Roots—a program for Grades 4–8, featuring Jamaican-born, Halifax-based vocalist Jah’Mila, which invites students to discover the people, sounds, and stories of the cultural movement that influenced music around the globe.
The Hockey Sweater and Reggae Roots will also be offered as part of our 2022/23 Young People’s Concerts Series—fun Sunday performances for the whole family—on February 5 and April 6, respectively. Two additional YPC programs round out the series this season: On Nov 6, Platypus Theatre’s How the Gimquat Found Her Song told the story of a rare and silent bird who’s taken on a transformative journey in search of the perfect song, through an entrancing blend of music, theatre, and puppetry. And on March 5, we ask the question, Why Sci-Fi?—a cosmic musical exploration of why the thrill and wonder of science fiction never cease to capture our imaginations.
Why Sci-Fi? and Reggae Roots are also being presented as Relaxed Performances, which are intended to be sensitive to and welcoming of neurodiverse audiences, including patrons on the autism spectrum, those with sensory and communication disorders, people with learning disabilities, or those who simply want a more relaxed concert experience.