The Royal Conservatory's 2010-11 Season

From a Press Release, a dizzying array of music to fill your ears with next season, and I assure you that my enthusiasm for the RC's line up has absolutely nothing to do with the smoked salmon or the french toast soufflé thingies at the official launch (mmm...)

They say Yo-Yo Ma heard about the incredible acoustics at Koerner Hall, and called them himself with an offer to play - as he will at the season opener.

the Royal Conservatory
Announces the 2010.11 season at Koerner Hall

Yo-Yo Ma WILL open the second season with a gala concert
Oscar Peterson's legacy will be explored
American superstar violinist Hilary Hahn will make her Koerner Hall debut

Following on the immense success of the inaugural Koerner Hall season at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, The Royal Conservatory (The RCM) President, Dr. Peter Simon, is thrilled to announce more inspiring and diverse concerts for 2010.11. Mervon Mehta, Executive Director, RCM Performing Arts, has once again assembled a wide array of artists of different backgrounds, performing a variety of musical genres, in order to present audiences with the highest quality of rich and diverse musical experiences. The journey will go from South Africa through France and Ireland to the Americas, from the earliest Baroque through jazz to Broadway and pop. Along the way we will celebrate an icon, introduce new artists to Toronto, present the next generation of classical artists, focus the attention on the varied aspects of Beethoven and Bach, revel in the solo piano works of Liszt, feast on works from Canadian composers, and offer a chance to hear the best music from Africa.

Grand Opening Weekend

The 2010.11 Koerner Hall season will open with a very special Grand Opening Weekend of performances and events.

On Thursday, October 14, 2010, one of the world's most beloved cellists and a favourite of Toronto's audiences, the incomparable Yo-Yo Ma, will give a recital accompanied by pianist Kathryn Stott. The following evening, presented by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Koerner Hall will host the high-profile LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture. This year's special guest will be His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, who was invested as an Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada in 2006 and became an Honorary Citizen of Canada in 2009. Bringing her signature coplas (female-centric Spanish torch songs), Afro-Mallorcan world music star, Buika, will make her Canadian debut on October 16, and the Grand Opening Weekend will be rounded out with a concert by the Esprit Orchestra, featuring a work by RCM stalwart R. Murray Schafer, which will mark Esprit's official move of their concert series to Koerner Hall. (image of Yo-Yo Ma from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2008)

Aspects of Oscar
Jazz giant and Canadian legend, Oscar Peterson, holds a special place in The Royal Conservatory's history (he is an honorary Fellow of The RCM) and in Mervon Mehta's heart. Mehta presented Peterson on the opening night of Philadelphia's Kimmel Center in 2002, and enjoyed a long association with the pianist. In Aspects of Oscar, a series of concerts dedicated to his memory, Peterson's legacy will be explored in detail by his long-time artistic collaborators and friends. The first of the five concerts, Oscar's Songbooks, has been put together by bassist Dave Young, who frequently worked with Peterson, and will feature Reg Schwager (guitar), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), Robi Botos (piano), 2010 Juno Award-winner Terry Clarke (drums), and special guest vocalist Carol Welsman, one of Oscar's favourite singers and a daughter of a former RCM President, Frank Welsman. John Coltrane's legendary pianist, McCoy Tyner, and rising star pianist, Alfredo Rodriguez, recently discovered and recorded by Quincy Jones, will pay tribute to Oscar Peterson's solo piano music in the Oscar Solo concert. In Oscar's Trios, Benny Green, Peter Washington, Kenny Washington, and Ulf Wakenius, will swing through trios of piano/bass/drums and piano/bass/guitar combinations; and Oscar Swings, with Monty Alexander and other special guests, will be a celebration of Oscar at his swingin'est, and feature his social and civil rights works, such as Hymn to Freedom. The last concert of the series, Oscar's Blues, with soulful trumpeter Roy Hargrove, will present a forward-looking ensemble of the next generation of artists carrying Oscar's torch. Each of the five concerts will include an Artist Chat between Mr. Mehta and the evening's guest artists as they share stories and lessons learned from Oscar Peterson. (Pic of Oscar Peterson Hans Bernhard 1977)

In addition to the extensive Aspects of Oscar jazz series, South African phenomenon and jazz trumpet legend, Hugh Masekela, will bring his melodic brand of world jazz to Toronto;Â Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sofie von Otter, will team up with American jazz pianist, Brad Mehldau, in a special program of classical and jazz favourites; and legendary pianist Allen Toussaint, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and The Joe Krown Trio, will take the audience into the spirited soul of New Orleans in a concert titled New Orleans Nights.

Piano Concerts
Simone Dinnerstein is one of the artists who will already be returning to Koerner Hall in its second season. Having previously appeared with Absolute Ensemble in ultra modern interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach's music, on her return visit she will play the Goldberg Variations, a recording of which almost made her a household name in 2007. Young Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear will return home to perform an all Beethoven program - Goodyear was taught by James Anagnoson, Dean of The Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould School, who later recommended him to the legendary Leon Fleisher. Fleisher, who led a sold-out concert with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra featuring Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand this season, will appear next to play works by Schubert and Bach. Two French pianists, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Hélène Grimaud, both renowned as proponents of contemporary music and leading interpreters of the standard piano repertoire, will present works by Franz Liszt, during the 200th anniversary year of his birth. Grimaud will be making her Toronto recital debut. The series will wrap up with a recital by Olga Kern, playing Yamaha's superb new concert grand piano.

String Concerts

Canadian violinist Leila Josefowicz has won the hearts of audiences around the world with her honest, fresh approach to the repertoire and her dynamic virtuosity. She made her Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 17, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, and in her Koerner Hall debut she will present works by Brahms, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Schubert, and the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür. Called "The Violinist of Violinists" by The Strad magazine, Leonidas Kavakos will be accompanied by pianist Enrico Pace in a recital including Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No.1 in F Minor and the gifted emerging composer Lena Auerbach's Preludes. A favourite of Toronto audiences and an iTunes phenomenon, Hilary Hahn, stated that she has played more works by Bach than any other composer and has played solo Bach pieces every day since she was eight years old. She will display her considerable Bach skills in the Sonata No. 1 for Solo Violin in G Minor, among other repertoire, with Valentina Lisitsa on the piano. Gears will switch from violin to the guitar in the hands of Grammy Award winner John Williams. This international ambassador of the guitar has toured the world playing solo and with orchestras, and his guitar version of Cavatina became a worldwide hit single when it was used as the theme music in the Oscar-winning movie, The Deer Hunter.

Chamber Concerts

One of the highlights of the chamber music concerts, as well as the whole season, will be the Canadian debut of the Scharoun Ensemble. This octet, comprised of the first chair woodwind and string members of the incomparable Berlin Philharmonic, will make their highly anticipated Canadian debut in March of 2011. Kremerata Baltica is a renowned Chamber orchestra, founded by violinist Gidon Kremer to foster outstanding young musicians from the three Baltic States.

Grammy Award winners in 2002, their program will include works by Béla Bartok, Robert Schumann, Arvo Part, Raminita Šerkšnyté, Michael Nyman, Georgs Pelecis, and Lena Auerbach. Three highly specialized chamber ensembles will also grace the stage of Koerner Hall: Interpreti Veneziani with expertly performed Italian baroque chamber music, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italian unification; Les Percussions de Strasbourg with percussive energy of a Iannis Xanakis piece that will surround the Koerner Hall audience and a world premiere by Canadian composer Andrew Staniland; and the renowned viol player, Jordi Savall, and his Hespérion XXI ensemble, with baroque music by composers from the Old Spain, Mexican Baroque, and the living Huasteca and Jarocho traditions. Bringing music closer to home and rounding out the series, The Royal Conservatory's very own ARC Ensemble will share the stage with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, who made their debut at the White House for President Carter's Inauguration in January, 1977.

Orchestra and Opera Concerts

The Royal Conservatory Orchestra (RCO) will present more concerts than ever before in one season. Three concerts will be led by Maestro Uri Mayer, Director of the Orchestral Program and Resident Conductor at The Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould School, and two by returning conductors from the 2009.10 season: Canadian Opera Company's Music Director, Johannes Debus, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Music Director, Peter Oundjian. New this year, Mervon Mehta will engage Peter Oundjian in one of his popular post-intermission Artist Chats. The last RCO concert will be conducted by Julian Kuerti, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the son of the illustrious Canadian pianist Anton Kuerti, in his Koerner Hall debut. Building upon the extraordinary success of this season's magical telling of Massenet's Cendrillon, the talented young artists of The Glenn Gould School's Vocal Program and the Royal Conservatory Orchestra will present another opera in the glorious acoustics of Koerner Hall in the spring of 2011.

Vocal Concerts

The season's vocal concerts will have something for everybody: from theatre superstar Barbara Cook, the only Broadway singer to have given a recital at The Metropolitan Opera house in New York; to early music specialists, The King's Singers, one of the most sought-after and critically acclaimed vocal ensembles in the world since their inception over 40 years ago; to reigning Canadian soprano, 2010 Juno Award-winner, and Officer of the Order of Canada, Adrianne Pieczonka. Finally, Anne Sofie von Otter and Brad Mehldau team up for one of their special collaborations.

World, Pop, and Everything in-Between

Exactly as the title suggests, these concerts and events have everything! Fiery guitars and Latin soul-infused melodies by the recently formed trio of guitarists - Pavlo, Rik Emmett, and Oscar Lopez, a special Christmas concert by Irish tenor John McDermott, and a tap dance spectacular courtesy of Bring In da Noise, Bring In da Funk star, Savion Glover. For the second year in a row, the Toronto Blues Society's Maple Blues Awards will return to Koerner Hall to celebrate Canada's top blues musicians, and The Royal Conservatory will once again open its doors to Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, filling the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning with contemporary chamber music, DJs, jazz, and world music, as well as an art installation. The first event of Nuit Blanche will be a concert in Koerner Hall, featuring the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, conducted by Uri Mayer, performing a work by R. Murray Schafer for string quartet and orchestra.

Building on the tremendous success of Senegalese singer Baaba Maal's recent appearance in Koerner Hall, which had audiences dancing in the aisles and on stage, there will be three shows next season presenting African musicians in special concerts. An evening titled Acoustic Africa, featuring Habib Koité, Oliver Mtukudzi, and Afel Bocoum, will explore the richness of African guitar traditions, while The Johnny Clegg Band serves up infectious crossover music - a vibrant blend of pop music and African Zulu rhythms that exploded onto the international scene and broken through barriers in Clegg's native South Africa. Getting things off to an auspicious start will be the aforementioned jazz legend, Hugh Masekela.

Words & Music

Legendary retired pianist, Alfred Brendel, will come to Toronto for a fascinating lecture. Providing musical examples on the piano from works by Beethoven, Haydn, and other composers, he will attempt to answer the question: "Does all classical music have to be entirely serious?"

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, conducted by Edwin Outwater, is also a returning guest to Koerner Hall from the inaugural season. In the first of their two concerts, through an interactive presentation involving live audience surveys using the latest technology, titled Beethoven and Your Brain, author of the best-selling books This Is Your Brain on Music and The World In Six Songs, Daniel Levitin, will explore what happens to the brain when it comes into contact with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In the second concert, best-selling author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) recounts his tortured days as a choirboy in San Francisco and narrates HK Gruber's classic and demented cabaret piece, Frankenstein!!

Beethoven and Bach

After everyone has been Beethovenized by Alfred Brendel and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, why stop?! Beethoven threads are running throughout the entire 2010.11 season and can be experienced through performances ranging from large ensembles to intimate recitals: the Royal Conservatory Orchestra will play his Symphony No.1 in C Major, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic his Septet in E-flat Major for Strings and Winds, violinist Hilary Hahn his "Spring" Sonata, and pianist Stewart Goodyear is devoting his entire recital to four of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Similarly, Johann Sebastian Bach's music will feature prominently. Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform his Goldberg Variations, Hilary Hahn his Sonata No.1 for Solo Violin in G Minor, and pianist Leon Fleisher his "Sheep May Safely Graze" from Cantata No. 208; Capriccio in B-flat Major, On the Departure of a Most Beloved Brother; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor; and Chaconne for the Left Hand from the Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor.

Many more 2010.11 season concerts, master classes, postlude concerts in the Leslie and Anna Dan Gallerias, and four more Bluebird North concerts in the Conservatory Theatre, will be announced in the coming months. Additionally, there will be many more Beethoven, Bach, and R. Murray Schafer works performed throughout the season by other music organizations.

Independent Presentations

In addition to welcoming the Esprit Orchestra for their 2010.11 season to Koerner Hall, numerous other organizations, such as Soundstreams Canada, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and Tafelmusik, will be presenting their own concerts in our venue. All details can be found at or on the individual web sites of the various presenters.

The Royal Conservatory

Founded in 1886, The Royal Conservatory is the largest and oldest independent arts educator in Canada. It is an internationally-renowned centre for performance and learning, providing opportunities for personal development through music and arts education in over 300 communities across Canada and a dozen countries around the world. Each year, more than 500,000 Canadians take part in RCM programs, exams, and public school initiatives.

The Royal Conservatory's 2010.11 concert season is made possible through the generous support of:

Department of Canadian Heritage
Ontario Arts Council
Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund