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Koerner Hall 12th concert season preview

Koerner Hall 12th concert season preview

Published on February 10, 2020

Celebrated artists reconfirm reputation as one of the great concert halls of the world

Programming details of some of The Royal Conservatory of Music’s classical concerts for the 2020-21 season have been revealed! The full season of more than 100 concerts, including jazz, pop, and world music will be released in June. 

“The celebrated artists in our upcoming season reconfirm Koerner Hall’s reputation as one of the great concert halls of the world,” said Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO. “We welcome back those who have already graced our stage and look forward to welcoming those who haven’t yet experienced the Hall’s acoustical excellence.”

Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts, stated, “Although Koerner Hall still feels new, our twelfth season is only a few months away. From our thrilling season gala, that stars a cavalcade of talented actors and singers, to our month-long celebration of the godfather of classical music, to a Canadian premiere co-written by Margaret Atwood, so many stellar nights await you. The 32 concerts we announce today include world premiers, only-in-Koerner Hall collaborations, along with a few surprises.”

“As we lead our busy lives in this often fractious world, music – played at the highest level by artists who refuse to compromise – acts as a balm to soothe, to heal, and to inspire our passions. Koerner Hall, in its visual and aural splendour, becomes the vessel for people of all tastes and of all ages to connect and to discover. In June, we will announce another 70 concerts that will complete our season. We look forward to seeing you again and again! Our heartfelt thanks to our season sponsor BMO and to all of our individual, corporate, and government supporters who help us bring the brightest stars to Toronto and beyond.”

Highlights of the 2020-21 season include:

Eric McCormack Image
Eric McCormack (Follies in Concert)
Season Gala

In honour of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday, The Royal Conservatory presents Follies in Concert on Saturday, October 17.

An all-star cast of Canadian theatre, opera and television icons and orchestra perform the legendary masterpiece considered by many to be the greatest musical ever created. Surreal, sophisticated, compelling, heart wrenching, and epic in scope, including hit songs “Losing My Mind,” “I’m Still Here,” and “Broadway Baby.” This star-studded event in support of The Fund for Koerner Hall celebrates Sondheim’s 90th birthday.

Director Richard Ouzounian remarked: “I can think of no better way to celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday than with this all-star concert presentation of his landmark musical, Follies. Koerner Hall will resound with Paul Sportelli conducting a 24-piece orchestra playing Jonathan Tunick’s glorious original orchestrations, while a cast featuring a galaxy of Canadian stars brings all the hilarity and heartbreak of this brilliant work to life.”

James Ehnes Image
James Ehnes (Beethoven 250 Festival)
Beethoven 250 Festival

Ludwig van Beethoven: disruptor, innovator, genius. The Royal Conservatory’s Beethoven 250 Festival, co-curated with James Ehnes, brings a range of musical perspectives and interpretations of Beethoven’s music, including solo, chamber, orchestral, jazz, and operatic works from a cavalcade of artists. Ehnes himself, Stewart Goodyear, Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcus Roberts, the Gryphon Trio, and the Galilee Chamber Orchestra direct from Nazareth, participate in an LvB Festival like no other from November 13 to December 13.

“I am thrilled to be involved with The Royal Conservatory’s Beethoven 250 Festival,” said Ehnes. “We have lined up a truly extraordinary roster of artists to present not just Beethoven’s most iconic works, but also some of his lesser known gems, works inspired by Beethoven, and works of other composers that will place Beethoven’s music in fascinating relief. There is no more pivotal composer in our history than Beethoven, and hearing this world-changing music in the intimate Mazzoleni Concert Hall and the acoustically incomparable Koerner Hall will surely be an unforgettable experience for all.”

Angelika Kirchschlager
(Power Corporation of Canada Vocal Concerts)
More Classical Music Concerts

Invesco Piano ConcertsNicholas Angelich, who made his Koerner Hall debut with Orchestre Métropolitain conducted by the extraordinary Canadian maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Seong-Jin Cho, First Prize winner at the 2015 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw return to Koerner Hall while Víkingur Ólafsson and Jean-Yves Thibaudet make their venue debuts. Ólafsson presents a program titled Pour le piano, consisting of works by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Debussy, as well as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, while Thibaudet plays the complete Debussy Préludes.
Power Corporation of Canada Vocal Concerts: Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager makes her Koerner Hall debut in Franz Schubert’s popular song cycle, Winterreise, accompanied by pianist Julius Drake; Koerner Hall favourites, The King’s Singers, return for the fifth time with a program titled Finding Harmony – an afternoon of iconic anthems of struggle and revolution through history; Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, accompanied by keyboard artist Kristian Bezuidenhout, returns with works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara and Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert, and Adolf Lindblad; and Joshua Hopkins sings the Canadian premiere of the voice and piano version of Jake Heggie’s Songs for Murdered Sisters with text by Margaret Atwood, in an evening of songs that highlight how women are used as objects and obsessions.
String concerts: Acclaimed Latvian cellist Mischa Maisky is joined by his son Sascha, a violinist, and his daughter Lily, a pianist, to perform works by Schubert, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Mendelssohn; Italian pianist Bratrice Rana returns to Koerner Hall with Frenchviolinist Renaud Capuçon with a program of Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 by both Schumann and Prokofiev; and Jordi Savall Trio introduces The Distant Voices program that features music from Afghanistan, Armenia, Istanbul, Sarajevo, Persia, and Italy.
Chamber music: Canada’s premier chamber ensemble, Les Violons du Roy, led on this tour by the award-winning pianist Jeremy Denk, perform Renaissance and Baroque works culminating with J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerti in E Major and D Minor; and Gidon Kremer (in his fifth Koerner Hall appearance) and Kremerata Baltica present Last Words, interweaving movements from Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ and Shostakovich’s final string quartet with texts by contemporary authors, including Primo Levi, Stephen Hawking, Rose Ausländer, Jorge Luis Borges, Harold Pinter, and Steve Jobs, read by Mr. Kremer.

Trevor Pinnock Image
Trevor Pinnock (RCO Guest Conductor)
Royal Conservatory Orchestra

Consisting of instrumental students in the Performance Diploma Program and Artist Diploma Program of The Glenn Gould School, 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. Graduates of the RCO have joined the ranks of the greatest orchestras in the world, including: 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 2020-21 season, the Orchestra will be led by Trevor Pinnock, one of the pioneers of the modern revival of early music performance, founding The English Concert in 1972 and the European Brandenburg Ensemble in 2006; Peter Oundjian, Conductor Emeritus of the Toronto 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, and Principal Artistic Partner of the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

To explore more upcoming events at Koerner Hall, visit