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THE SCOOP | Toronto Symphony Orchestra Hits The Road To Montreal & Ottawa With JUNO-Winning Canadian Mezzo-Soprano Emily D’Angelo

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs at the National Arts Centre during their Centennial Tour (Photo: Curtis Perry)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs at the National Arts Centre during their Centennial Tour (Photo: Curtis Perry)

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, are taking Brahms No. 1 and celebrated mezzo Emily D’Angelo on tour to Montréal’s Maison symphonique and Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa on May 4 and 5.

The program for the tour will feature the North American Première of enargeia, the World Première of TSO RBC Affiliate Composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang’s Illumination, and Brahms’s First Symphony. Toronto audiences will get a chance to experience the same program on May 1 and 2 at Roy Thomson Hall.

“When we talk about Canadian music and musicians, we often emphasize the importance of international exposure and recognition—but equally crucial is the championing of this nation’s cultural creations and institutions right here at home. This is precisely what we’ll do on our upcoming tour, and we’re proud to represent Toronto in Montréal and Ottawa by bringing a piece of this city—something that doesn’t exist anywhere else—with us,” comments TSO Beck Family CEO Mark Williams in a statement.

The Music

“The orchestra and I are thrilled to bring this wonderfully rich and incredibly nuanced program to Montreal and Ottawa after we perform it for our hometown audiences in Toronto,” says conductor Gustavo Gimeno.

“I have always believed that, when it comes to programming, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts—and this concert is the quintessential example. Though it features compositions both brand new and time honoured, by bringing them all together, a sense of interdependence and synthesis is generated. This is perhaps most strikingly evident in enargeia, and I’m delighted to collaborate with Spotlight Artist Emily D’Angelo on this live adaptation of her extraordinary album. Emily’s voice is simply sublime, and I’ve been eager to work with her for years.”

enargeia

The title of the recording comes from ancient Greek, and comes from the tradition of rhetoric. Loosely translated, it refers to the concept of using words to in a vivid recreation of someone or something. Recorded by Emily D’Angelo on the Deutsche Grammophon label, enargeia is a suit of works by women composers, written largely for voice. The composers and their pieces span more than eight centuries, from the medieval composer and saint Hildegard von Bingen to contemporary composers Hildur Guðnadóttir, Missy Mazzoli, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. Among other accolades, the release won the 2022 JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year (Solo Artist) and the 2022 Gramophone Concept Album Award.

This marks her second appearance of the season as a TSO 2023/24 Spotlight Artist.

Alison Yun-Fei Jiang’s Illumination (World Première)

The TSO commissioned this piece from RBC Affiliate Composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang. Jiang earned a PhD in composition from the University of Chicago, and is currently based in North York. She is completing her two-year tenure on the TSO’s Artistic Leadership team.

Her music is melodic and infused with drama, and her influences range from the French Impressionists to cinematic music and Chinese traditional opera. Jiang is a multiple award winner, including a 2016 Libby Larsen Prize from the IAWM (International Alliance for Women in Music) Search for New Music Competition, and a 2015—2016 JCC Manhattan/NYU Tisch Call for Music commission. Her work has been performed by the American String Quartet, Cassatt String Quartet, Quartetto Apeiron, Manhattan School of Music Composers’ Orchestra, and NYU Symphony, among others.

Her piece Illumination was inspired by light forms and natural phenomena, as depicted in the Diamond Sutra, and influential East Asian text translated from the original Sanskrit into Chinese. The light of the symbolic diamond is like the power of wisdom to shatter illusions and reveal the truth.

In Montréal, audiences will experience Beethoven’s dramatic Coriolan Overture. The piece was written for a revival of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the doomed Roman general by Heinrich Joseph von Collin.

Brahms’ Symphony No. 1

Brahms wrote his Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 over a period of several years, more than 20 by his own account. Sketches of it date back to 1854, and it premiered in November 1876 in Germany. Some of those initial sketches took a detour to become his first piano concerto, written in D minor. The symphony’s long development probably stemmed from the composer’s perfectionism, and his habit of destroying early works.

It was well received on its premiere, although Brahms was said to be annoyed at constant comparisons to Beethoven. Today, it’s viewed as one of the great symphonies of the Western classical repertoire — although some still do call it “Beethoven’s Tenth”.

  • They’ll perform the program May 1 and 2 in Toronto, details (HERE).
  • The tour hits Montréal on May 4, details (HERE), and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on May 5, details (HERE).

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