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102 Events Announced for Koerner Hall's 10th Anniversary 2018-19 Concert Season

102 Events Announced for Koerner Hall's 10th Anniversary 2018-19 Concert Season

Published on June 3, 2018

102 Events Announced for Koerner Hall's 10th Anniversary 2018-19 Concert Season


10th Anniversary Opening Festival | Season Finale Festival | Quiet Please, There's A Lady on Stage | TD Jazz Concerts | World Music | Trailblazers | Roots & Folk | 21C Music Festival | Sunday Interludes | Classical Concerts | Invesco Piano Concerts | Students, Faculty, and Visiting Artists

Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts, and James Anagnoson, Dean of The Glenn Gould School, today revealed details of the diverse concerts that will make up the 2018-19 season, which will mark Koerner Hall’s 10th anniversary season.

“These extraordinary concerts affirm Koerner Hall as the venue of choice for internationally celebrated performers. Its landmark 10th anniversary season will further strengthen the position of The Royal Conservatory as a leading concert presenter and global cultural hub, which has brought together more than a million Canadians through the unifying power of music,” says Dr. Peter Simon.

Mehta added: “The 10th anniversary season will be a celebration featuring some of Koerner Hall’s favourite artists from the first nine seasons alongside some new faces. The finest musicians in classical music, jazz, world, roots, and folk have made Koerner Hall their Toronto home and helped us establish our global reputation. We have invited many of them back this season and left room for a few legends that, finally, will make their Koerner Hall debuts.”

10th Anniversary Opening Festival

Koerner Hall opened on September 25, 2009, Glenn Gould’s birthday, with a Grand Opening Festival that featured 10 concerts. For the 10th anniversary season, Mervon Mehta has planned an opening and a closing festival that will each consist of seven concerts. 

The festival opens with three free concerts as part of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor hub of Culture Days events:.

Gábor Takács-Nagy conducts the Royal Conservatory Orchestra 

During the 2018-19 season, Hungarian violinist, conductor, and founder of the legendary Takács String Quartet, Gábor Takács-Nagy, returns to conduct the RCO and violinist Orin Laursen in a program of works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8. 

This concert is also part of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra concert series.

Koerner Hall 10th Anniversary Free for All

The wildly popular Koerner Hall Free for All is back! The Royal Conservatory offers this opportunity for anyone who ever dreamed of performing on the Koerner Hall stage to do just that – for five minutes – and the schedule is always packed. Aspiring and professional performers are once again encouraged to bring their best solo piece or an entire band, to sing a song, recite a poem, or even dance, and to invite their friends and family to experience their five minutes of glory. Acoustic performances will take place from 12noon to 3pm and amplified performances from 5pm to 8pm. 

Part of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor hub of Culture Days events

Fern Lindzon

This jazz vocalist and pianist is “smart and smouldering” and “sublimely elegant” (!earshot). “Fern Lindzon is an engaging pianist and singer who brings an unassuming authority, an inquiring spirit and a natural grace to contemporary jazz.” (Mark Miller, jazz journalist) 

This concert is also part of the Sunday Interludes concert series, generously supported by Dorothy Cohen Shoichet.

Koerner Hall 10th Anniversary Gala: Kathleen Battle

Kathleen Battle’s soaring voice has carried her to the heights of the classical music world. The range of the five-time Grammy Award winner’s repertoire spans three centuries from the Baroque era to contemporary works, which she performs with symphony orchestras and in recital halls around the world. Perhaps what distinguishes this luminous soprano most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering bond with audiences through a voice that is “… without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” (The Washington Post). In her Koerner Hall debut, Ms. Battle will perform opera arias and selections from Broadway. 

Proceeds from the evening support Resounding! The Campaign for The Royal Conservatory.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

Formed by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 from a group of leading London musicians, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble is one of the world’s best, renowned for fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s greatest classical music. In their return visit to Koerner Hall, they perform works by Carl Nielsen, Jean Françaix, and Ludwig van Beethoven. “Their sound is sweet and pure, their ensemble work airtight.” (The Washington Post)

The Jerry Cans and New North Collective

The Jerry Cans create music inspired by their hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut, and life in the Canadian Arctic. With their unique mix of traditional Inuit throat singing and roots-rock sung in the Indigenous language of Inuktitut, The Jerry Cans offer a distinctly northern sound and infectious, high-energy performances. The New North Collective is an ensemble of northern Canadian performing artists from Yukon and Northwest Territories whose music is diverse and skillful, representative of a multitude of genres, including jazz, folk, new music, spoken word, and rock. While exploring and pushing musical boundaries, there is a common goal to discard the stereotypes of the region and the people who live in rural and remote northern communities. 

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Orchestre Métropolitain and Nicholas Angelich

Classical music’s hottest conductor returns to Koerner Hall! The Montreal-born Yannick Nézet-Séguin is Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal. American pianist Nicholas Angelich, who has been called “spellbinding” (Bachtrack), makes his Koerner Hall debut playing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4.The rest of the program consists of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 1 and the Ontario premiere of Nicolas Gilbert’s Avril.

Concert generously sponsored by Power Corporation of Canada

Season Finale Festival

Anoushka Shankar

Luca Pisaroni and Thomas Hampson: No Tenors Allowed

Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni returns to Koerner Hall, this time joined by his father-in-law, famed American baritone Thomas Hampson, to perform an evening of operatic arias and Broadway songs. Hampson, America’s foremost baritone, “is without question one of the world’s greatest opera singers … a voice, a baritone so rich it can circle the universe” (Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America). He has received many honours and awards for his probing artistry and cultural leadership, and his discography includes winners of a Grammy Award, five Edison Awards, and the Grand Prix du Disque. 

Concert presented in memory of Gary Miles and generously supported by an anonymous donor

Murray Perahia

In the more than 40 years he has been performing on the concert stage, American pianist Murray Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time and his long-awaited Koerner Hall debut will be an occasion to remember. Poetic, tender, and scrupulous musicianship and elegance perfectly describe his particular kind of magic. Each and every performance is a revelation. “Perahia’s virtuosity, never fussy, narcissistic or quirky, generates a heightened sense of drama in whatever he plays. At 67, his gifts as a storyteller have deepened.” (The Los Angeles Times)

Concert generously supported by an anonymous donor

Anoushka Shankar

Hailed an Asian Hero by TIME magazine, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar is a singular figure in the Indian classical and world music scenes. Her dynamic and spiritual musicality has garnered six Grammy Award nominations, recognition as the youngest – and first female – recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, and a Songlines Best Artist Award. Most recently, she became one of the first five female composers to have been added to the UK A-level music syllabus. Deeply rooted in the Indian classical music tradition, she studied exclusively from the age of nine under her father and guru, the late Ravi Shankar, with whom she made her Royal Conservatory debut during Koerner Hall’s inaugural concert season. This concert marks her third appearance in Koerner Hall. 

Concert generously sponsored by Next Pathway

Art of Time Ensemble: Doghouse Roses

A folk artist for contemporary America, Steve Earle’s writing and music has captured the spirit – and the struggle – of this great land of contradiction. Singers Andy Maize (Skydiggers), Susie Ungerlieder (Oh Susanna), Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings), and Gregory Hoskins perform Earle’s music, while celebrated author Michael Ondaatje and actor Rick Roberts read his words. This concert highlights Earle’s brilliant storytelling and presents his songs in new arrangements that honour and celebrate his music.

Robi Botos and Friends

Hungarian-born Romani musician Robi Botos immigrated to Canada in 1998. Shortly after arriving, he caught the ear of Canadian jazz great, Oscar Peterson, and quickly became his protégé. To this day, Botos remains a disciple of Dr. Peterson’s mighty sense of swing and technical virtuosity. Along with this influence, he possesses a deep tradition in Romani, Hungarian, and European folk and classical music. The fusion of European influences with North American bebop, hard bop, and modern jazz has formulated a sound and approach that is original and formidable. 


Four musician-singers immersed in diverse traditions: Maryem Hassan Tollar draws on her Arabic heritage, Jayne Brown and Sophia Grigoriadis bring their experience with Greek music to the mix, and Brenna MacCrimmon adds her Turkish fascination.

Lighthouse: 50 Years of Sunny Days

For a generation of Canadians, the iconic and groundbreaking jazz-rock band Lighthouse was the soundtrack of their lives with songs like “Sunny Days,” “One Fine Morning,” and “Pretty Lady.” Recognized as one of the best performing acts of their time, they toured 300 days a year, including sold out performances at Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Expo ‘70 in Japan, and the Isle of Wight Festival in England. Their rise to fame coincided with a new awareness of Canadian culture and devoted audiences from province to province took pride in seeing one of their own make it to the top. They make their Koerner Hall debut celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Quiet Please, There's A Lady on Stage


The fourth season of the series featuring great female voices, inspired by Australian songwriter Peter Allen’s song, “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage,” welcomes the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie, fado queen Mariza, cabaret great Storm Large, and double bills of Noa and Mira Awad, and Amanda Martinez and Kellylee Evans.

Amanda Martinez and Kellylee Evans

This double bill of extraordinary musicians and close friends is an evening of warm flavourful jazz, Latin rhythms, roots, and soul. Amanda Martinez’s music exultingly blends her unique Mexican and South African roots with flamenco soul. Her third and latest CD, Mañana, and her previous solo albums have earned her three Latin Jazz Artist of the Year nominations at Canada’s National Jazz Awards, and her songs have appeared on three Putumayo world music collections. The singer has headlined at the legendary Blue Note jazz club in New York, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Festivities in South Africa, the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, and the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. With six albums, Juno Award winner Kellylee Evans is still shaking it up. The stylistic connoisseur has tackled everything from jazz to R&B and has been praised by the Latin Jazz Network for a “gorgeous voice (that) rises to the heavens in rapturous wonder as if in consanguinity with a chorus of angels.” 

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Since her ground-breaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, Academy Award and Polaris Prize-winning Buffy Sainte-Marie has been making us feel stronger and more capable of seeing the world around us clearly through her music. The Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo. Her latest release, Medicine Songs, is a collection of front-line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics. The songs are about the environment, alternative conflict resolution, Indigenous realities, greed, and racketeering. 

Concert generously sponsored by TD Bank Group

Storm Large

Not for the faint of heart, musician, actor, playwright, and author, Storm Large of Pink Martini and Rock Star: Supernova fame performs her own brand of in-your-face Broadway, jazz, and rock-goddess anthems. Called “sensational” by The New York Times, she has performed with Grammy Award winner k.d. lang, pianist Kirill Gerstein, punk rocker John Doe, singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton. Her autobiographical musical memoir, Crazy Enough, played to packed houses and her biography of the same name, released by Simon and Schuster in 2012, was named Oprah’s Book of the Week. In the fall of 2014, Storm & Le Bonheur released a record designed to capture sublime and subversive interpretations of the American Songbook. The recording is a collection of tortured and titillating love songs: beautiful, familiar, yet twisted … much like the lady herself.

Concert generously sponsored by TD Bank Group

Noa and Mira Awad

Partners in creating the song “There Must be Another Way” for 2009’s historic Eurovision Song Contest, Yemeni-Israeli Noa and Palestinian Mira Awad share the Koerner Hall stage and “show a situation that we believe is possible if we just make the necessary effort.” Israel’s leading international singer/songwriter Noa has shared the stage with superstars such as Sting, Pat Metheny, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Andrea Bocelli, and is Israel’s first Good Will Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, while Mira Awad is a multidisciplinary international performer who developed a unique fusion of sounds, combining the east with the west, weaving ornaments of the Arabic language with western harmonies.

Concert generously supported by the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust


Mariza has risen from a well-hidden local phenomenon, known only to a small circle of admirers in Lisbon, to one of the most widely acclaimed stars of the world music circuit. Born in Mozambique and raised in Lisbon, she has mastered the roots of her musical culture and opened her music to the world without losing her heartfelt Portuguese identity. The Guardian wrote: “the Portuguese star dispels the idea that fado is gloomy with a set that mixe[s] passion with delicacy and humour.” 

TD Jazz Concerts

Series Sponsored by TD Bank Group
Marcus Roberts

Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming

Joshua Redman, one of the finest jazz saxophonists in the world, performs new compositions inspired by Old and New Dreams. His group includes drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley, and trumpeter Ron Miles, three of the most imaginative voices in contemporary jazz. Together, they interpret the Old and New Dreams quartet of the 1970s and 1980s, a renowned quartet of Ornette Coleman alumni that included Redman’s father, Dewey Redman. With repertoire consisting of Ornette Coleman compositions and original works, their music was honest, uninhibited, and completely engaging in its unpredictable live execution. “Redman’s definitely got the fire and burns hot as coals ... [with] unbridled abilities as musician and performer.” (All About Jazz)

Marcus Roberts

Roberts individualizes his sound by utilizing orchestral devices ... In the course of a single piece, he constantly modulates grooves, tempos and keys, plays separate time signatures with the right hand and the left, and, as he puts it, flips around the roles of the piano, bass and drums by giving everyone an equal opportunity to develop the concepts and themes, to change the form, to get us where we’re getting ready to go.” (Jazziz) At this concert, Marcus Roberts performs Jelly Roll Morton, Monk, Ellington, and Gershwin on solo piano. After intermission he is joined by his trio, Rodney Jordan on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums, for music from the Trio Crescent CD, which celebrates John Coltrane and his landmark suite, Crescent.

Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band with Horacio "El Negro" Hernández and Sarita Leyva’s Rumberos

Special guests, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, and Sarita Leyva’s Rumberos and Iré Omó Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble with Amado Dedeu, join pianist Hilario Durán’s 20-piece Latin Jazz Big Band. Havana-born and Toronto-based Durán is ranked one of the most important contemporary Cuban pianists and arrangers today. In 2005, he formed his explosive 20-piece Big Band Orchestra with top Canadian and Cuban musicians in Toronto. Recipient of multiple Juno Awards and Canadian National Jazz Awards, he has been nicknamed “Contumbao” for his creative use of the tumbao repetitive bass figures. In this Koerner Hall concert, they will perform Afro-Cuban music and pieces from his most recent recording, Contumbao.

Concert generously supported by Deborah Leibow & Ken Snider

John Pizzarelli and Freddy Cole: Celebrating Nat King Cole @ 100

Freddy Cole has been praised by People magazine for his “gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes, and love ballads,” while Entertainment Weekly said he was “blessed with warmth, timbral beauty, and grace.” World-renowned guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli has been recognized by the Boston Globe for “reinvigorating the Great American Songbook and re-popularizing jazz.” The Toronto Star named him “the genial genius of the guitar” and the Seattle Times has saluted him as “a rare entertainer of the old school.” Together, at this special Valentine’s Day concert, Pizarelli and Cole celebrate the 100th birthday of Freddy’s older brother, Nat King Cole.

Robi Botos and Friends

Hungarian-born Romani musician Robi Botos immigrated to Canada in 1998. Shortly after arriving, he caught the ear of Canadian jazz great, Oscar Peterson, and quickly became his protégé. To this day, Botos remains a disciple of Dr. Peterson’s mighty sense of swing and technical virtuosity. Along with this influence, he possesses a deep tradition in Romani, Hungarian, and European folk and classical music. The fusion of European influences with North American bebop, hard bop, and modern jazz has formulated a sound and approach that is original and formidable.

This concert is also part of the Season Finale Festival.

For the ninth consecutive season, The Royal Conservatory’s TD Jazz concerts are sponsored by TD Bank Group

World Music Concerts

Quique Escamilla’s Day of the Dead Celebration

In addition to the abundance of international artists that appear in other concert series throughout the season, The Royal Conservatory welcomes artists from Brazil, Hungary, Ukraine, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the United States. 

Jamey Haddad’s Under One Sun and Cyro Baptista’s Vira Loucos

Two of the world’s greatest percussionists are joined by stellar improvisers in this double-bill of global music. Lebanese-American percussionist Jamey Haddad, who has been a longtime member of bands for such stars as Sting and Paul Simon, will be joined by an international band, including Toronto-based jazz bassist Roberto Occhipinti, for this unique evening. “As my musical journey led me from one continent to another, and as I experienced a planet crying out for understanding, this team of players cosmically came forward,” says Haddad. “The sheer joy of every member experiencing their bandmates’ artistry truly exemplifies the human capacity to celebrate what makes us unique.” Percussionist Baptista will be joined by Toronto’s guitar master Kevin Breit to pay tribute to Brazil’s great composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. “Baptista has assembled a group both light on its feet and capable of negotiating the trickiest of rhythmic passages and deliriously romantic melodies with wit, enthusiasm, and grace. Highly recommended.” (AllMusic)

Quique Escamilla’s Day of the Dead Celebration

Mexican singer-songwriter and Juno Award winner Escamilla produces a unique performance to celebrate the Day of the Dead, a venerable Mexican tradition. Through a curated night of music, theatre, dance, and storytelling, he honours the departed ancestors and iconic world activists who dedicated their lives to justice, freedom, and equality. With earthly offerings laid out for them on altars such as cacao, corn, agave, and memorabilia, the spirits are welcomed back to the realm of the living. “Modern day troubadour Quique Escamilla makes music that comes straight from the soul. The stories he tells are the stories we need to hear; socially and politically conscious lyrics paired with exceptional musicianship.” (CBC Radio)

Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Aline Morales

Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a guerilla-punk-Balkan-folk-brass band massive like no other, tracing their genesis back to the streets of Toronto. Over the past eight years, the multi award-winning ensemble has been heralded as a ground-breaking, genre-bending phenomenon by the Canadian and international media alike, and they have performed on streets and stages around the world. Recent notable performances include the New York City premiere of their two-time Dora Award-winning folk opera, Counting Sheep, and a March 2018 tour of New Zealand that includes performing at the WOMAD Festival. The group shares the evening with Aline Morales, dynamic Juno Award-nominated Brazilian singer, percussionist, bandleader, and member of KUNÉ – Canada’s Global Orchestra

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

For over 50 years, the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo have married the intricate rhythms and harmonies of the townships of their native South Africa to the sounds and sentiments of gospel music. The result is a musical and spiritual alchemy. The group, which shot to international stardom when they collaborated with Paul Simon on his album, Graceland, won a fifth Grammy Award in 2018 with their album, Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration, in the Best World Music Album category.

Concert generously sponsored by TD Bank Group


Notable flamenco dancer Farruquito appears on two consecutive nights. Heir to the most renowned Roma flamenco dynasty, he has been immersed in the purest form of flamenco founded by his grandfather, “El Farruco,” one of the greatest dancers in the history of flamenco, and has been called the “heir to one of the most renowned flamenco dynasties in Spain” by The New York Times

Roby Lakatos

Virtuoso fiddler Roby Lakatos returns to Koerner Hall for the third time. This scorching player and musician of extraordinary stylistic versatility is equally comfortable performing classical, jazz, and his native Hungarian folk music. Born into a legendary family of Roma violinists, his musicianship evolved not only within his own family but also at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest, where he won the first prize for classical violin. His unparalleled technique places Lakatos among the best players in the world, and his musical curiosity and Roma heritage make him truly unique.


Chilly Gonzales: Solo Piano

A new series for the 10th anniversary concert season brings Canadian trailblazers, each with a unique voice and perspective: provocateur and pianist extraordinaire Chilly Gonzales; Jane Bunnett, who has dedicated her life to Cuban music; Michael Kaeshammer, whose music crosses all genres and who simply describes himself as “just a piano player;” and three-time Scribble Jam DJ Battle winner DJ Skratch Bastid. The series also features a special celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death. 

Chilly Gonzales: Solo Piano

The Grammy Award-winning pianist, producer, arranger, composer, raconteur, and Royal Conservatory alumnus, returns to Koerner Hall! Gonzo is known as much for the intimate piano touch of best-selling albums Solo Piano I and Solo Piano II as for his showmanship and compositions for award-winning stars such as Feist, Peaches, and Daft Punk. 2018 sees the return of Chilly Gonzales to the stage with an intimate selection of pieces from the Solo Piano album cycle, after which he is joined by Stella Le Page on cello and Joe Flory on drums to perform hits and hidden surprises.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque All-Stars

Multiple Juno Award-winner, Jane Bunnett, has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the US, and Cuba. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards, numerous Juno Awards, has been named to the Order of Canada, received The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, and most recently earned Ontario’s Premier’s Award for Excellence. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music, and her ability to showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been ground-breaking. In her return engagement at Koerner Hall, she once again brings the soul of Cuba to the hearts of Canadian music lovers with her all-female group, Maqueque, and several guest artists who have toured with the ensemble since its inception, including award-winning Afro-Cuban jazz singer, Daymé Arocena.

Concert generously sponsored by TD Bank Group

Michael Kaesham