The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is going to play a Toronto symphony next year, as soon as the citizens have finished offering their input for a new composition about their city.
TSO music director Peter Oundjian announced on Wednesday that he and composer Tod Machover will ask "the entire city to participate in this work that is about, and by, Toronto." Ironically, Machover is not a Toronto composer: He lives in Boston, where he is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.
Machover, the guest curator of the TSO's 2013 New Creations Festival, will receive ideas and sound contributions for his piece via the Web, before committing his thoughts to paper in time for a premiere performance in March, 2013. Although Machover has worked extensively in electronic music and digital interactive systems, Oundjian said that "at this point" only traditional symphonic instruments would be used.
The season opens with a performance of John Adams's Harmonielehre, which Oundjian said was on the season by request of the orchestra's players, who performed the work during last year's New Creations Festival. The public will get a couple of request evenings as well, during two January concerts that will consist entirely of audience choices.
Also on the agenda are commissioned pieces by Canadians Owen Pallett and Andrew Staniland and two song cycles by Peter Lieberson, one of which will feature Canadian baritone Gerald Finley. There are also recent pieces by Nicole Lizée and Steven Mackey, a double concerto by bassist Edgar Meyer for himself and violinist Joshua Bell, and a commissioned piece by the TSO's first associate composer, whom the TSO will begin seeking next week.
"We're looking for someone who's already got some profile in the public eye," said Gary Kulesha, the TSO's composer adviser. The orchestra is also looking for a resident conductor to help with rehearsals and performances, and to conduct the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. Application information for both jobs will be on tso.ca by Feb. 8.
The 2012-13 season includes performances of major symphonies by Mahler, Beethoven, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky, and another annual Mozart festival in January, 2013, featuring several TSO principals in starring roles. The TSO will also give full concert performances of Manuel de Falla's opera La Vida Breve with an all-Spanish cast, and live readings of Leonard Bernstein's music for West Side Story, simultaneous with screenings of the film. Those shows will be conducted by incoming principal pops conductor Steven Reineke, who holds a similar post with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.
The TSO is going big on visuals next year: Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast will be done with commissioned "photo-choreography" by James Westwater, whose past productions have synchronized orchestral performances with large projections of soaring eagles, romping cowboys and mountain ranges. There will also be projections for performances of an Oundjian favourite, Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
The list of guest musicians next year includes violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter, James Ehnes and Maxim Vengerov; pianists Yuja Wang and Ingrid Fliter; singers Measha Brueggergosman, Layla Claire and Michael Schade; and conductors Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Andrew Davis, Jiri Belohlavek and Johannes Debus. The National Arts Centre Orchestra and l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will both pay a visit to Roy Thomson Hall as guests of the TSO.