The Toronto Symphony announced its 2015/16 season line up this morning. From a choral and vocal music perspective the items of most interest were:
- A “semi-staged” Mozart Requiem to be directed by Joel Ivany. That’s scheduled for January 21st to 23rd next year with soloists Lydia Teuscher, Allyson McHardy, Frédéric Antoun and Philippe Sly. Bernard Labadie will conduct. I’m very curious to see what Joel does with this.
- Handel’s Messiah in the extremely non-baroque Andrew Davis orchestration. He will also conduct. The soloists are Erin Wall, Liz DeShong, Andrew Staples and John Relyea. This one is being recorded live for the Chandos label. It runs December 15th to 20th this year.
- Barbara Hannigan appears as both soprano and conductor. On October 7th and 8th she has a program of Nono, Haydn, Mozart, Ligeti and Stravinsky.
- Russell Braun shows up with Erin Wall for a performance of Vaughan-Williams Sea Symphony on October 21st and 24th and again during the New Creations Festival where he will sing Brett Dean’s Knocking at the Hellgate.
There’s lots more in a rather staggering variety of genres and presentation styles. Presenting 40 or 50 different shows per season with no expectation that anyone is going to attend all of them is such a different situation from the COC’s challenge with six shows where the expectation is that many. perhaps most, patrons will attend all six. In effect, every decision the COC makes disappoints someone whereas the Symphony has the freedom to create some niche product. And I have to say I think they do this very cleverly with some very skilful branding. The more “out there” stuff is grouped into catchily named series and the core 19th century (mostly) rep can then be positioned as “Masterworks” rather than “that stuff we always do”.
There’s a real commitment to both modern and contemporary work. The former is being positioned as The Decades Project where, for the next five years., two decades of the 20th century will be showcased each season and , of course, there’s the ongoing commitment to the New Creations Festival; curated each year by a living composer; this next season’s being Australian Brett Dean. They are also not afraid to be less than high brow with Pops concerts and even clowns and contortionists. No opera, as such, this season though. Anyway, the full details are available here.