Toronto Symphony Extends Peter Oundjian's Contract Through 2012

Classic Arts News   Toronto Symphony Extends Peter Oundjian's Contract Through 2012
The Toronto Symphony has extended music director Peter Oundjian's contract, which was initially scheduled to run through 2008, for another four years.

According to a statement from TSO management, since Oundjian began his tenure there in September 2004, the orchestra's finances and attendance have improved. The TSO sold 177,000 tickets in 2003-04 and anticipates selling 230,000 this season.

Oundjian, who was for many years the first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet, is also artistic advisor for the Caramoor Festival and principal guest conductor and artistic advisor for the Detroit Symphony, which has been without a music director since Neeme J‹rvi stepped down in 2005. In the same announcement, the Toronto Symphony released details of its programming for the 2007-08 season. The lineup focuses mainly on standard orchestral repertoire, with plenty of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvoršk. Addressing this conservative choice of repertoire, The Globe and Mail points out that, though the TSO had a small financial surplus last year, it still has a C$9.4 million accumulated deficit. "That number would be enough to put a strong drag on any orchestra's appetite for risk," the paper writes. "Oundjian's response, during the current season, has been to couple familiar works in unusual ways, such as the pairing of Mahler songs with Beethoven symphonies at the start of the season. His choices of contemporary repertoire favor composers who write colorfully and can manage a tune."

The colorful music of Messiaen will be the focus of the New Creations festival in April, which will also feature the Canadian premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's new Piano Concerto with Yefim Bronfman (who recently gave the world premiere with the New York Philharmonic); the North American premiere of Guillaume Connesson's Symphonic Dances and the Toronto premiere of Jeffrey Ryan's Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra. There will also be Canadian premieres of works by Philip Glass, Chen Yi and Magnus Lindberg.

Oundjian kicks off the season on September 19 with a performance of Orff's Carmina Burana; the season closes on June 18 with the traditional "Last Night of the Proms" program, led by Vancouver Symphony music director Bramwell Tovey.

Guest artists next season include cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianists Lang Lang, Evgeny Kissin, Garrick Ohlsson and Emmanuel Ax; and violinist James Ehnes. Making their TSO debuts will be cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianists Jonathan Biss, Ingrid Fliter, Ji Yong and Yundi Li.

Visiting conductors scheduled to appear include Mstislav Rostropovich, Charles Dutoit, Thomas Dausgaard, Yannick N_zet-S_guin, St_phane Denve and conductor laureate Andrew Davis, who was music director of the TSO from 1975 to 1988.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Oundjian predecessor at the TSO (1994-2001), will return to Toronto to lead Mahler's Symphony No. 9 in February 2008.

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