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A Preview of the 11th Koerner Hall Concert Season

A Preview of the 11th Koerner Hall Concert Season

Published on January 29, 2019

A Preview of the 11th Koerner Hall Concert Season


Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO of The Royal Conservatory of Music, and Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts, today revealed programming details of some of the classical and jazz concerts for the 2019-20 season, as Koerner Hall celebrates the 10th anniversary of its opening in September of 2019. The full season of more than 100 concerts, including pop, world music, and new special series, will be released in June.

Mervon Mehta stated, “We are overjoyed to announce some of the world’s finest recitalists, singers, choirs, and jazz artists who will serve as the backbone of our 11th season of concerts in Koerner Hall. In the fall, we begin a two-season dive into the world of Beethoven on his 250th birthday. The spring brings us two stellar events: the world premiere of Oscar Peterson’s AFRICA and Peter Sellars’s exquisite staging of Lagrime di San Pietro (The Tears of St. Peter)."

"In June, we bring you all of the pop, world music, singer-songwriters, films, and student and faculty concerts. Of course, none of this would be possible without our season sponsors, BMO Financial Group and the Toronto Star, and all of our individual, corporate, and government funders, to whom we are most grateful.”

“The extraordinary group of artists Mervon has assembled for our 2019-20 concert season affirms Koerner Hall’s growing reputation as one of the world’s greatest concert halls and the venue of choice of a wide range of the world’s most internationally celebrated artists,” says Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO.

Wynton Marsalis
Season Gala – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis – “Big Band Holidays”

On November 30, an extra-special jazz concert in support of The Royal Conservatory’s Fund for Koerner Hall kicks off the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, “Big Band Holidays” brings soulful arrangements of songs both sacred and secular in addition to swinging instrumentals and special guest vocalists Alexis Morrast and Toronto’s own Denzal Sinclaire. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, comprises 15 of the finest soloists, ensemble players, and arrangers in jazz music today. In the spirit of swing, the mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is “to entertain, enrich, and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education, and advocacy. Jazz at Lincoln Centre believes jazz is a metaphor for democracy. Because jazz is improvisational, it celebrates personal freedom and encourages individual expression. Because jazz is swinging, it dedicates that freedom to finding and maintaining common ground with others. Because jazz is rooted in the blues, it inspires us to face adversity with persistent optimism.”

Gala dinner and concert packages are available by calling 416.408.2824 x 447.

Daniil Trifonov
Piano Recitals

Sir András Schiff

Awarded Knighthood by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2014, Hungarian-born Sir András Schiff is world-renowned and critically acclaimed as a pianist, conductor, pedagogue, and lecturer, whose piano performances continually awe and inspire: “He [finds] song where others find formula; he [conveys] song where others play scales,” The Los Angeles Times raves. In his sixth appearance in Koerner Hall, he will play Schumann’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp Minor, op. 11 and Fantasy in C Major, op. 17, as well as Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 12 and 21 (“Waldstein”).

Yefim Bronfman

Uzbekistan-born classical pianist, Yefim Bronfman, is internationally recognized as one of today's most acclaimed and admired pianists for his commanding technique, power, and exceptional lyrical gifts. Mr. Bronfman returns to Koerner Hall, after his debut in 2010, with an all-Beethoven program of Piano Sonatas Nos. 5, 6, 7, and 23 (“Appassionata”). “Listening to Bronfman play Beethoven’s familiar concerto is like being in a crowded room when suddenly a profound conversationalist begins to speak and everyone just steps back to listen with rapt attention … He can roar, but he also can whisper. He can conjure a multitude of dynamics, shifting quickly from one extreme to another – making little fuss with the simple opening chords of that first movement, and later grabbing hold of great solo interludes with such force that by the end of the first movement even the sophisticated audience broke an unspoken taboo and erupted into spontaneous applause.” (Chicago Sun Times)

Louis Lortie

The highly-esteemed French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie, who made his Royal Conservatory debut in April of 2010, during Koerner Hall’s inaugural season, also returns to Koerner Hall for his sixth appearance, this time with an all-Beethoven program that features Piano Sonatas Nos. 27, 28, and 29 (“Hammerklavier”). The London Times has identified his “combination of total spontaneity and meditated ripeness that only great pianists have.” A prolific recording artist, he boasts a discography of over 45 recordings for Chandos, covering repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky, including a set of the complete Beethoven sonatas and the complete Liszt Années de pèlerinage, which he performed in Koerner Hall in 2011.

Daniil Trifonov

Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov – who made his Koerner Hall debut in 2013 – has made a spectacular ascent of the classical music world as a solo artist; champion of the concerto repertoire; chamber and vocal collaborator; and composer. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of wonder. “He has everything and more … tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” marveled pianist Martha Argerich. Trifonov recently added a first Grammy Award to his already considerable string of honours, winning Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018 with Transcendental, a double album of Liszt’s works that marks his third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist. His program will include works by Beethoven and Schumann, as well as Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 8.

Hélène Grimaud

Renaissance woman, Hélène Grimaud, is a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life, but whose talents extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. Her deep dedication to her musical career, both in performances and recordings, is reflected and reciprocally amplified by the scope and depth of her environmental, literary, and artistic interests. Her prodigious contribution to and impact on the world of classical music were recognised by the French government when she was admitted into the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (France’s highest decoration) at the rank of Chevalier (Knight). The program for her third Koerner Hall appearance includes works by Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Silvestrov, and Rachmaninov Sonata No. 2.

Angela Hewitt

One of the world’s leading pianists, Canadian Angela Hewitt appears in recital and as soloist with major orchestras throughout Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. Her interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach have established her as one of the composer’s foremost interpreters of our time. She has been awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II and was promoted to a Companion of the Order of Canada. She was Artist of the Year at the 2006 Gramophone Awards, Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2010 MIDEM Classical Awards in Cannes, and, in 2018, received the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Ottawa. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, has seven honorary doctorates, and is an alumna of The Royal Conservatory of Music. Hewitt continues her three-year exploration of Bach with the Art of the Fugue.

Karina Gauvin
Vocal Concerts

Karina Gauvin with the Pacifica Baroque Orchestra

One of the world’s reigning sopranos in Baroque and Classical repertoire, Karina Gauvin, and Vancouver’s exciting and innovative early music specialists present a concert entitled “Russian White Nights: Opera arias from 18th century St. Petersburg.” At the turn of the 18th century, Peter the Great began to drag Russia, often kicking and screaming, toward the rest of Europe. His new capital, St. Petersburg, was to be a window to the West, and to that end, Peter brought in Germans, Czechs, Italians, Frenchmen, and others in his quest to modernize his land. He and his successors, especially Anna Ivanovna, Elizabeth, and Catherine the Great, saw the opera house as an opportunity to show off their cultural wealth as a modern European nation. “Karina Gauvin has proved herself one of the most delightful of Baroque sopranos. Her pellucid tone is now flecked with deeper, richer colourings, and precise, nimble coloratura.” (Gramophone)

The Tallis Scholars: Reflections

The leading exponent of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world, Director Peter Phillips has worked with The Tallis Scholars to create the purity and clarity of sound that serves the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard. It is the resulting beauty of sound for which the group has become so widely renowned. Based in a fascination with how composers from different backgrounds set the same seminal texts, their program reveals how important and durable plainchant [plainsong] was, from the Renaissance period to 20th century Paris, and from territories as far apart as England and Mexico.

Philippe Sly & Le Chimera Project: Winterreise

This performance will be a fresh theatrical take on Schubert’s final masterpiece – 24 songs based on poems by Wilhelm Müller that recount the tale of a lonely traveller who ventures on a winter journey in the snow to rid himself of his lost love. Philippe Sly’s version is dramatically staged and lit, and includes an on-stage ensemble playing from memory. The French-Canadian bass-baritone has gained international notoriety for his “beautiful, blooming tone and magnetic stage presence” (San Francisco Chronicle). He was the first prize winner of the prestigious Concours Musical International de Montréal and a grand prize winner at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recently, he was awarded Concert of the Year in Romantic, Post-Romantic, and Impressionist Music at the 16th annual ceremony of the Prix Opus in Québec.

Lagrime di San Pietro with the Los Angeles Master Chorale staged by Peter Sellars

From the creative mind of acclaimed director Peter Sellars comes his most personal work to date – the must-see performance of the season! Lagrime di San Pietro (The Tears of St. Peter) is a ground-breaking production of Renaissance master Orlando di Lasso’s final work, a collection of 27 madrigals sung a capella in seven parts by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Di Lasso knew that Lagrime was to be the last piece he would ever compose, so he filled every measure with an emotionally charged texture that channeled all of his pain and remorse into a towering work of beauty. 21 singers transform this 75-minute sweeping masterpiece into an overwhelmingly emotional performance piece. Set to the poetry of Luigi Tansillo (1510-1568), “I accept responsibility” is the fundamental theme of this work, depicting the seven stages of grief that St. Peter experienced after disavowing his knowledge of Jesus Christ on the day of his arrest and prior to Jesus’s crucifixion. Sellars translates Lagrime through a contemporary lens, suggesting a powerful allegory that by taking responsibility and facing our past head-on, we can forge a more resolved and fulfilling future. The Los Angeles Times states, “Lagrime is a major accomplishment for the Master Chorale, which sang and acted brilliantly. It’s also a major accomplishment for music history.”

Matthias Goerne with Jan Lisiecki

Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has won acclaim for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound, and poetic sensibility. The New York Times has called him “a pianist who makes every note count.” An alumnus of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School, Lisiecki’s insightful interpretations, refined technique, and natural affinity for art give him a musical voice that belies his age. He made his debut in the main auditorium at New York’s Carnegie Hall in January 2016 and in its rave review The New York Times noted that it was an “uncommonly sensitive performance.” Baritone Matthias Goerne has appeared on the world’s principal opera stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Teatro Real in Madrid; Paris National Opera; and the Vienna State Opera. His artistry has been documented on numerous recordings, many of which have received prestigious awards, including four Grammy nominations, an ICMA award, and recently the Diapason d’or arte. In 2017, he was honoured with the OVoal Award from both BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone. Their all-Beethoven program includes An die ferne Geliebte.

Ray Chen
String and Chamber Music Concerts

Ray Chen with Julio Elizalde

Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, violinist Ray Chen plays the 1715 “Joachim” Stradivarius violin, once owned by the famed Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim. He was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at age 15 and captured the world’s attention as First Prize winner of both the Yehudi Menuhin and Queen Elizabeth Competitions. Profiled as “one to watch” by The Strad and Gramophone magazines, his profile has grown to be featured in the Forbes list of 30 most influential Asians under 30 and appearances in the TV series Mozart in the Jungle. As The Washington Post raved: “Ray Chen can do pretty much anything he wants on the violin.” Praised as a musician of “compelling artistry and power” by the Seattle Times, the gifted American pianist Julio Elizalde has appeared with many of the leading artists of our time. He has performed alongside conductors Itzhak Perlman, Teddy Abrams, and Anne Manson, and has collaborated with artists such as violinist Pamela Frank; composers Osvaldo Golijov and Stephen Hough; baritone William Sharp; and members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Kronos, and Brentano string quartets. He is also Artistic Director of the Olympic Music Festival near Seattle, Washington. Their program will consist of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Debussy, Grieg, Ravel, and Saint-Saëns.

Kyung Wha Chung with Kevin Kenner

“Simply, relentlessly, magnificent: a miracle of momentum and humanity” (The Sunday Times), legendary violinist Kyung Wha Chung is joined by long-time partner Kevin Kenner on piano. In their Koerner Hall debut, they will perform works by Brahms, Franck, and Beethoven. Born in South Korea, Kyung Wha Chung is recognised throughout the world as one of the finest violinists of her generation. A prolific recording artist, her probing artistry has made her a much-acclaimed performer throughout her 50-year career. She has received many prizes and honours, including the Medal of Civil Merit, the government of South Korea’s highest honour. Pianist Kevin Kenner has been praised as “one of the finest American pianists to come along in years” by the Chicago Tribune and The Financial Times described him as a “player of grace, subtle variety and strength, with a mature grasp of dramatic structure and proportion.” Program includes violin sonatas by Brahms, Frank, and Beethoven.

Pamela Frank with Emanuel Ax

After recovering from an arm injury, Pamela Frank is playing in major concert houses around the world. The Philadelphia Inquirer has praised her “big, rich sound … phrasing breathes with great purpose. Even single notes don’t leave the strings without meaning.” This assessment of Frank’s artistry will ring true to her many fans who eagerly await this performance with recital partner Emanuel Ax, the seven-time Grammy Award-winning pianist. “Ax’s greatness, his overwhelming authority as a musician, technician, and probing intellect emerges quickly as he plays,” raves the Los Angeles Times. Their program includes
Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5 (“Spring”) and Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 3.

Bomsori Kim with Rafał Blechacz

Following the release of their Deutsche Grammophon album, these two rising stars join forces for their only Canadian tour stop. Winner of the 62nd ARD International Music Competition, South Korean violinist, Bomsori Kim, is a prize winner of a number of prestigious international violin competitions such as the Tchaikovsky International Competition, the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover, the Montreal International Musical Competition, and the Sendai International Music Competition. She achieved astonishing success at the 15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, winning both Second Prize and Critic’s Prize, as well as nine additional special prizes. More than 10 years since his victory at the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005, Rafał Blechacz’s career has been filled with tours, solo recitals, as well as concerts performed with symphony orchestras all over the world. The American Gilmore Artist Award, sometimes called “the Piano Nobel,” bestowed on him in January 2014, is a strong and meaningful acknowledgment that summarizes well the last decade of his artistic activity. Kim’s and Blechacz’s program for Koerner Hall will consist of works by Beethoven, Debussy, Fauré, and Szymanowski.

Amici Chamber Ensemble with Russell Braun, Elmer Iseler Singers, and Toronto Children's Chorus

“Composer Komitas Vardapet survived a genocide and somehow bridged Armenia and Turkey's musical divide. He should be better known … [his] output was modest … but … he singlehandedly laid the foundations for Armenia’s classical tradition. And as a collector and arranger of folksongs, he did for Armenia what Bartók did for Hungary, turning simple material into bewitchingly sophisticated polyphony. After a Komitas concert in Paris, Claude Debussy declared that on the basis of a single song, he deserved to be recognised as a great composer,” stated The Guardian. Amici Chamber Ensemble, with its 30-year legacy of innovative, evocative programming and a passion for presenting the best chamber music and musicians, will present this multi-faceted celebration of the 150th birthday of the “soul of Armenian music,” Komitas. Artistic Directors clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas, cellist David Hetherington, and pianist Serouj Kradjian invite some of the finest musicians to join them in celebrating friendship through music. Performers include baritone and Royal Conservatory alumnus Russell Braun, renowned for his luminous voice “capable of the most powerful explosions as well as the gentlest covered notes” (The Toronto Star), the 20-voice Elmer Iseler Singers, and one of the world’s leading treble choirs, Toronto Children’s Chorus. 

This concert is co-presented with Amici Chamber Ensemble.

Daniel Hope with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra

Koerner Hall favourite, British violinist Daniel Hope, returns for his fourth visit to the venue, joined by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, with a program of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Bechara El-Khoury, Felix Mendelssohn, and Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. As he himself describes, “One day I heard what I thought was birdsong coming from the stage. It was the opening solo of “La primavera” from The Four Seasons. It had such an electrifying effect that I still call it my ‘Vivaldi Spring.’ How was it possible to conjure up so vivid, so natural a sound, with just a violin?” Hope has toured the world as a virtuoso soloist for 25 years and is celebrated for his musical versatility as well as his dedication to humanitarian causes. Winner of the 2015 European Cultural Prize for Music, he appears as soloist with the world’s major orchestras and conductors, also directing many ensembles from the violin. Currently, he serves as Music Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra – an orchestra with which he is closely associated since his early childhood and which will accompany him on this concert. “We are so used to grand gestures –whether from pompous politicians or blow-’em-up Hollywood movies – that it becomes all the more valuable to be reminded that true, enduring contact with the soul happens in much more subtle ways … violinist Daniel Hope did it with instruments only, thanks to the company of a few well-chosen friends on the Koerner Hall stage in November.” (Toronto Star)

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

One of the world‘s leading chamber orchestras on period instruments, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Akamus), has established itself as one of the pillars of Berlin’s cultural scene, with its own concert series at the Konzerthaus Berlin for more than 30 years. It also performs a concert series at Munich’s Prinzregententheater. Having sold more than a million CDs, their highly successful recordings have won every important award for classical recordings, including the Grammy, Diapason d‘Or, Cannes Classical, Gramophone, Edison, MIDEM Classical, Choc de l‘année, as well as the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In 2006, Akamus received the Telemann prize of Magdeburg and, in 2014, both the Bach Medal and Echo Klassik. For their Koerner Hall debut, the group will perform five Brandenburg Concerti by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Takács Quartet

The Takács Quartet is renowned for the vitality of its interpretations. The New York Times lauded the ensemble for “revealing the familiar as unfamiliar, making the most traditional of works feel radical once more”, and the Financial Times described a recent concert at Wigmore Hall, “Even in the most fiendish repertoire these players show no fear, injecting the music with a heady sense of freedom. At the same time, though, there is an uncompromising attention to detail: neither a note nor a bow-hair is out of place.” Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes (violins), Geraldine Walther (viola), and András Fejér (cello) perform 80 concerts a year worldwide. The members of the Quartet are also on the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where they run an intensive summer string quartet seminar, and Visiting Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music. The Takács Quartet performed Philip Roth’s Everyman program with Meryl Streep at Koerner Hall in 2015 and, for their fifth visit, they present works by Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Béla Bartók, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of all-singing, all-strumming ukulele players who believe that all genres of music are available for reinterpretation, as long as they are played on the ukulele! Their concerts are a funny, virtuosic, twanging, awesome, foot-stomping obituary of rock-n-roll featuring the “bonsai guitar” and a menagerie of voices. There are no drums, pianos, backing tracks, or banjos, no pitch shifters or electronic trickery, only the rich palette of orchestration afforded by ukuleles and singing (and a bit of whistling). Over the last 29 years, the Orchestra has spawned hundreds of imitators and their music, Tchaikovsky to Nirvana via Otis Redding and Spaghetti Western soundtracks, has been used in films, plays, and commercials, while film clips of the Orchestra’s live concerts and TV appearances on websites have been watched millions of times. Collaborators have included Madness, David Arnold, The British Film Institute, The Ministry of Sound, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), and The Kaiser Chiefs.

Gabor Takács-Nagy
Royal Conservatory Orchestra

The Royal Conservatory Orchestra (RCO), part of the Temerty Orchestral Program, is widely regarded as an outstanding ensemble and one of the best training orchestras in North America. It consists of instrumental students in the Performance Diploma Program and Artist Diploma Program of The Glenn Gould School. Graduates of the RCO have joined the ranks of the greatest orchestras in the world, including: the the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, Tafelmusik, the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus. During the 2019-20 season, the Orchestra will be led by Tania Miller, Music Director Emerita at the Victoria Symphony, Andrei Feher, the new Music Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, Johannes Debus, Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company, and Gábor Takács-Nagy, Music Director of Manchester Camerata, Principal Guest Conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Principal Artistic Partner of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and Professor of String Quartet at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva.

Chucho Valdés
Jazz Concerts

Chick Corea Trilogy with Christian McBride and Brian Blade

Chick Corea’s trio features the Grammy Award-winning pianist in the company of a stellar rhythm tandem: bassist Christian McBride, one of the most outstanding talents and celebrated musicians of his generation who has played with Sting, Pat Metheny, and McCoy Tyner, and drummer extraordinaire Brian Blade (Herbie Hancock, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and the Wayne Shorter Quartet). A DownBeat Hall of Famer and NEA Jazz Master, 22-time Grammy winner and keyboard virtuoso, Chick Corea, has attained living legend status after five decades of unparalleled creativity and an artistic output that is simply staggering. The three musicians initially forged an indelible chemistry as the rhythmic backbone of the Five Peace Band in 2009.

Toronto Sings the Breithaupt Brothers’ Songbook

Canadian songwriting partners the Breithaupt Brothers, Emmy Award winner Don Breithaupt (music) and Jeff Breithaupt (lyrics), write musical theatre “neo-standards” that are the next generation of the Great American Songbook. Their songs have been performed and recorded by a who’s who of Toronto jazz singers. At this concert, Canadian vocal jazz icons Jackie Richardson, Kellylee Evans, Denzal Sinclaire, Heather Bambrick, and others, are joined by an all-star band to bring the Breithaupt Brothers songs to life. As Toronto Star put it, “America had the Gershwins, but Canada’s got the Breithaupts!”

Chucho Valdés – Jazz Batá

Godfather of Cuban jazz, Chucho Valdés, performs music from his newest release, Jazz Batá 2, an exceptional work in which he revisits an idea he first explored in 1972: a piano jazz trio featuring batá drums in place of the conventional trap set. The batá are the sacred, hourglass shaped drums used in the ritual music of the Yoruba religion. Jazz Batá 2 was named one of Billboard’s 20 Best Latin Jazz Albums of 2018 and the magazine stated, “Chucho Valdés’ Cuban jazz masterpiece honors his father, the pioneering pianist Bebo Valdés. Jazz Batá 2 conjures ancestral African spirits, but also those of progressive jazz greats, classical composers and a century’s worth of Cuban popular music innovators. The founder of the definitive contemporary Cuban jazz group Irakere brings to the fore the timeless grace and continuous experimentation that marked his father’s career, and that has characterized his own artistic output.” All three supporting musicians who will be accompanying Valdés are from the Guantánamo region, with deep roots in Cuban musical culture as well as being conservatory-trained.

Holly Cole

“Christmas Time is Here!” Jazz songstress and Canadian icon, Holly Cole, will ensure that you “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Cole’s legendary Christmas concert, full of much-loved standards alongside eclectic selections of songs, is a highlight of the holiday season. There is an intelligence and sophistication to Cole’s singing that sets her apart. She can imbue standards and eclectic songs with an uncanny combination of sensuality, innocence, originality, and sheer musicality. She takes tunes everybody thinks they know and discovers new undercurrents in the venerable anthems of contemporary composers, wrapping her honesty, compassion, and sardonic wit around their sometimes-fragile creations. The results are sexy, provocative, spellbinding, sometimes dangerous, and never, ever dull. She has two Christmas recordings: her first the ep Christmas Blues and the full recording Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers

Panamanian jazz pianist and composer, Danilo Pérez, leads the Global Messengers, musicians from Palestine, Greece, Jordan, and Panama, with varied musical traditions and instrumentation to match. When discussing the healing properties of music, Pérez speaks of “recovering the function of the artist as a tool to redirect humanity in a positive direction.” The Royal Conservatory has commissioned Pérez to write a new piece, which will receive its world premiere at the concert. This music and performance have a rare ability to take an audience to experience the ancient practice of building community through music. Inspiring young players to believe that they can positively affect their communities as they learn their craft, Pérez serves as a UNESCO Artist For Peace, Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama, Founder and Artistic Director of the Panama Jazz Festival, Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and the pianist in the Grammy Award-winning Wayne Shorter Quartet.

Oscar Peterson’s AFRICA featuring Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Jeff Hamilton

Early in 1983, Peterson completed and recorded his Africa Suite. Two songs from that suite, “Nigerian Marketplace” (containing echoes of gospel and salsa) and “Peace” (the blues-inspired conclusion) became part of his concert repertoire. However, the entire suite has never been performed live in front of an audience, until now! The world premiere of AFRICA, arranged and conducted by John Clayton, featuring Benny Green on piano, Christian McBride on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and a big band made up of Toronto all-stars will be the highlight of a program that also includes this stellar group of musicians performing some of jazz’s greatest pieces in trio and quartet formats. This concert is co-presented with the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival.

Branford Marsalis Quartet

Grammy Award-winning, New Orleans-born Branford Marsalis has stayed the course. From his early acclaim as a saxophonist bringing new energy and new audiences to the jazz art, he has refined and expanded his talents and his horizons as a musician, composer, bandleader, and educator – a 21st century mainstay of artistic excellence. It is no secret that the Branford Marsalis Quartet can be as freewheeling off the bandstand as in performance. Together with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner, all four musicians are bold personalities with strong opinions, equally intense in musical exchanges. Marsalis is, as The Los Angeles Times dubbed him, “the highest echelon of jazz tenor saxophonists.” He is the eldest musical sibling in jazz’s most famous contemporary clan with nearly 30 albums to his name. An uncompromising artist, his insatiable desire to expand horizons has found him performing with the New York Philharmonic, embracing hip hop influences with his Buckshot LaFonque project, leading the house band on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and working in the pop realm with Sting and Bruce Hornsby.

Orbert Davis “Soul Migration” featuring members of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Emmy Award-winning trumpeter, composer, educator, and band leader, Orbert Davis, presides over a celebration of the “Great Black Migration” to Chicago. As the Chicago Tribune stated, “Imagine how diminished American music would be if the Great Migration had not brought Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Mahalia Jackson, Thomas A. Dorsey, Muddy Waters, and uncounted others to Chicago, where their work could be disseminated globally via radio broadcasts, music publishing and recordings. The music they created serves as tangible testament to the incalculable cultural impact of the Great Migration, which many historians date from 1916 to 1970.” Joining Davis on vocals is Maggie Brown, another Chicago stalwart and daughter of the late Oscar Brown Jr.

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