|Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO)|
|Former name||New Symphony Orchestra|
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Toronto, Ontario. Founded in 1922, the TSO gave regular concerts at Massey Hall until 1982, and since then has performed at Roy Thomson Hall. The TSO also manages the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO). The TSO's most recent music director was Peter Oundjian, from 2004 to 2018. Sir Andrew Davis is currently the TSO's interim artistic director. Gustavo Gimeno was announced as Oundjian's successor on September 17, 2018, with a tenure beginning in the 2020-21 season.
The TSO was founded in 1922 as the New Symphony Orchestra, and gave its first concert at Massey Hall in April 1923 with 58 musicians. The first conductor was Luigi von Kunits, and that season there were twenty concerts, as well as a performance at a spring festival.
In the summer of 1924, the symphony performed at the Canadian National Exhibition. Shortly thereafter, the TSO began holding children's concerts. The orchestra changed its name to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1927. In 1929, the TSO made its radio debut with a one-hour broadcast on CBC Radio from the Arcadian Court of Simpson's department store.
After von Kunits' death in 1931, conductor and composer Ernest MacMillan served as music director for 25 years.
The orchestra had made headlines for its hiring practices in 1951, when it declined to renew the contracts of musicians, thereafter known as the Symphony Six who had been denied entry to the United States on suspicion of communist activities, during the McCarthy Era.
The orchestra had financial and audience size problems in the 1990s, and in 1992 TSO musicians had accepted a 16% pay cut because of a threat of bankruptcy to the orchestra, with a promise from management to make up the loss in subsequent contract negotiations. By 1999, this pay restoration had not happened, which led to an 11-week musicians' strike that autumn. Relations between the musicians and management deteriorated, and the music director at the time, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, offered to serve as mediator in the situation. In addition, there was a lack of public sympathy to the orchestra musicians' situation. By 2001, the TSO had debt of $7 million (Canadian), and both executive director Ed Smith and music director Saraste had left the ensemble.
Peter Oundjian was appointed as music director in January 2003 and became music director with the 2004-2005 season. The 2005 documentary film Five Days in September: The Rebirth of an Orchestra (Canada, 2005) recorded the first days of the TSO's inaugural season with Oundjian as its new music director. His most recent TSO contract extension was through the 2017-2018 season. He concluded his TSO tenure at the close of the 2017-2018 season and was given the title "Conductor Emeritus."
By the 2006-2007 season, the subscriber base had increased to about 25,000, and the audience average capacity also increased to 84%. In November 2008, the orchestra reported its third consecutive year of budget surpluses, with average audience attendance of 88% (excluding concerts for schoolchildren), although the orchestra still retains overall debt of $8.9 million (Canadian).
In April 2015, controversy ensued after the TSO cancelled the appearance of Valentina Lisitsa, citing Twitter postings by her in relation to the conflict in Ukraine which were seen as conducive to 'public incitement of hatred' under the Criminal Code of Canada.
In January 2017, the TSO announced its participation in the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canada, with a cross-country celebration of Canadian music and musicians to involve 40 orchestras and as many as 60 new commissions called "Canada Mosaic" and funded by the Canadian government.
In May 2017, the TSO announced the scheduled return of Davis to the orchestra as its interim artistic director, beginning with the 2018-2019 season, for a scheduled period of two seasons. In April 2018, the TSO announced the appointment of Matthew Loden as its next chief executive officer, effective July 2018.
In February 2018, Gustavo Gimeno first guest-conducted the TSO. On the basis of this guest appearance, the TSO announced the appointment of Gimeno as its next music director, effective with the 2020-2021 season, with an initial contract of 5 years.
March 2019, the TSO won the Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble for their album on the CHANDOS label: Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto, Oboe Concerto, Serenade to Music & Flos Campi.