‘Handel’s Messiah is one of the great traditions of the season. Somehow, this time of year makes traditions seem even more significant. It is a turning point in the year—by the calendar, it is the time when the days cease to grow darker and begin to grow lighter with the promise of spring a few months away, and this great work is a perfect way to celebrate. Messiah was written to celebrate faith, but it is first and foremost a work of music, not of philosophy or religion. Great melodies transcend any divisiveness among people, making us one, voices united. Handel has achieved something remarkable in this wondrous music: it overcomes time and language, and links the past and the future. Simultaneously pious and joyous, it is music that is both old and still new, still able to communicate to contemporary audiences. Nicholas McGegan returns to the TSO with this wonderful celebration, and he is joined by four outstanding soloists and the ever popular Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.’
‘The holiday season is such a wonderful time for music—we hear everywhere during this period of the year some of the finest classical music written for the occasion as well as inspiring traditional carols and tuneful popular classics. The brilliant, multi-talented Canadian artist Jann Arden recently recorded her take on the season’s most beloved songs and I’m thrilled to have her perform them in her début with your Toronto Symphony Orchestra! The beautiful voices of the Etobicoke School of the Arts Holiday Chorus also join us for this performance, and you, too, will have the chance to contribute to this Christmas soundscape in our annual sing-along. May this concert of holiday music warm your hearts and get you in the holiday spirit!’
Principal Pops Conductor
Elegant, sexy and savvy. The Toronto Symphony was in top form last night. We were ready to be ‘sleighed’ with holiday anthems. Add the likes of the Etobicoke School of the Arts Holiday Chorus and the incomparable Jann Arden, whom brought the house down within seconds of taking the stage.
The evening was robust with songs like ‘The Best Christmas of All’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.’ The audience caroled using carol sheets in their TSO Program book, the air was filled with warmth and fairy lights and the mood was festive and jovial.
When Arden took the stage with her cheeky humour on show and her voice in all its abundance ready to tear the walls down in Roy Thomson Hall, the audience was warmed up and ready for her. She gifted the audience with songs from her song catalogue including of ‘Insensitive’ and ‘Waiting for Canada’. The Canadian flag’s poppy red colour was emblazoned on Arden’s gorgeous chiffon dress and bejeweled gown. We were on the same page.
After the intermission the Toronto Symphony gave us ‘Carol of the Bells’ from Mykola Leontovych/arr. David Hamilton and ‘“We Need A Little Christmas” from Mame’ from Jerry Herman/arr. Robert Wendel. Perhaps not all that well known but beautifully positioned in the evening. TSO did a wonderful job playing the audience old standards, blues, folk and pop songs. It was an evening for everyone. The audience was satiated, ready to learn, have a giggle and most importantly have a great time.
Arden had many intimate moments with the audience last night. She spoke of road stories, her writing process, sweet comments to orchestra members and a rawness only she can pull off in a space as prestigious as Roy Thomson Hall.
She created a gorgeous space between her and her fans last night when she spoke of her collaboration with Bob Foster on ‘Good Mother’. Arden spoke of scribbling notes in the lining of a cigarette liner and how she wanted to create an ode to her parents. The moment felt like she was whispering her narrative to every member of the audience singularly. Intimate, emotional, generous and fraught with pain. As the Toronto Symphony Orchestra started to play the opening bars of ‘Good Mother’ the audience sighed a sigh full of anticipation, Kleenex were at the ready, men sat up straighter in their seats and other’s leaned forward. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra illumined ‘Good Mother’. It took the audience to another level of loving Arden’s music and winning us over with TSO’s gorgeous arrangement. People wept, some stood up and cheered. The festive love embraced us as the song concluded.
The night could not be complete without an appearance by Jolly Saint Nick who ‘ho, ho ho’d’ down the aisles and then helped in leading the audience with a ‘The Jingle, Jangle Sing-along’. It was upbeat and fun. What better way to warm up our voices by busting them out into the holiday season with the professional help of TSO?
The Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus is comprised of the Grades 11 and 12 music theatre classes at the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA). The music theatre department, headed by Paul Aikins, is one of six majors offered at ESA, which is the oldest free-standing arts-focused high school in Canada. Their contribution was boisterous, electric and punctuated the evening’s program with a lightness that can only be captured by the talented voices of these youngsters.
As Arden said last night, ‘Music is the fabric of life’. It’s true. The evening delivered was joyous, a true respite from work drama and encouraging in the colours of red, green and gold of the holiday season into the fabric of our lives in the present. Music as performed by the likes of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Jann Arden is to be inhaled and exhaled and perhaps even channelled into 2017 as we move ahead into the next year of our collective lives.
The malls maybe busy and we maybe run off our feet on our weekends – what better time is it to carve out some much needed early family and friends time before the holiday rush kicks in?
I encourage you to pick up tickets to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. It is truly an event for the whole family.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a festive family concert! Sing along with your favourite carols and songs as part of The Twelve Days of Christmas—a hilarious live-action pageant, narrated by Canadian actor and improv comedian Colin Mochrie, that will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. If it isn’t already, the TSO’s annual family Christmas concert is sure to become your new holiday tradition!
These concerts feature the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Earl Lee, with the Highland Creek Pipe Band, Resonance Youth Choir and Tha Spot Holiday Dancers.
JAMES STEPHENSON: Holiday Overture
MOZART/arr. Aubrey Winter: Allegro from Toy Symphony in C major
STEVEN REINEKE: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
LUCAS RICHMAN: Hannukah Festival Overture
KRISTEN ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Music from Frozen
JOHN RUTTER: Candlelight Carol
TRADITIONAL/arr. Mitch Clarke: Frosty the Snowman
TCHAIKOVSKY: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Original Score composed by Howard Shore Composer Howard Shore brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary imagination to vivid life with his Academy® and GRAMMY® Award–winning score to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. By the way, Howard Shore is Canadian!
Shore’s music expresses Peter Jackson’s film as an immense symphonic work—a uniquely developed vision drawn from centuries of stylistic tendencies. The music of The Lord of the Rings is counted among film music’s most complex and comprehensive works. This unique performance sets the score to the film, but allows the music to bear the narrative weight, creating a wholly new and dramatic live concert experience.
Shore’s score not only captures Fellowship’s sweeping emotion, thrilling vistas, and grand journeys, but also echoes the very construction of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Styles, instruments, and performers collected from around the world provide each of Tolkien’s cultures with a unique musical imprint. The rural and simple hobbits are rooted in a dulcet weave of Celtic tones. The mystical Elves merit ethereal Eastern colours.
The Dwarves, Tolkien’s abrasive stonecutters, receive columns of parallel harmonies and a rough, guttural male chorus. The industrialized hordes of Orcs claim Shore’s most violent and percussive sounds, including Japanese taiko drums, metal bell plates and chains beaten upon piano wires, while the world of Men, flawed yet noble heirs of Middle-earth, is introduced with stern and searching brass figures. In operatic fashion, these musical worlds commingle, sometimes combining forces for a culminated power, other times violently clashing…and always bending to the will of the One Ring and its own ominous family of themes.
The music’s vast scope calls for symphony orchestra, mixed chorus, children’s chorus, and instrumental and vocal soloists singing in the Tolkien-crafted languages Quenya, Sindarin, Khuzdul, Adûnaic, Black Speech, as well as English. Original folk songs stand alongside diatonic hymns, knots of polyphony, complex tone clusters, and seething, dissonant aleatoric passages. It is purposeful, knowing writing, as contained in execution as it is far-reaching in influence; for within this broad framework resides a remarkably concise musical vision.
Shore’s writing assumes an earthy, grounded tone built on sturdy orchestral structures and a sense of line that is at once fluid yet stripped of frivolous ornamentation.
Says Howard Shore, “This is the first time that the complete score to The Fellowship of the Ring will be performed live to projection in Toronto. My first score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was the beginning of my journey into the world of Tolkien and I will always hold a special fondness for the music and the experience.”
—Doug Adams is a Chicago-based musician and writer. He is the author of the book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
It was pretty fitting that we took in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert’ last night as the end of the year creeps towards us. The 3 night sold out performance captured Howard Shore Academy Award ®– Winning Score at its essence and perfectly ‘lit’ the Roy Thomson Hall space with a musical respite from the damp weather outside.
There was a definite excited energy in the air as we took our seats above Roy Thomson Hall. We had a perfect view. The space was filled and there were a few die heard fans in full Arwen gear in front of us. We made sure to pick up our cocktails and popcorn prior to the performance. It’s great that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra encourages guests to indulge on treats from the concession stand for evening performances. It is a truly cultural experience watching a film and having the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s musical wares wash over you.
The nuances that Conductor, Ludwig Wicki, brought to the table last night amplified every note that may have gotten lost as we watched ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on the big screen in the past. From the lovely Kaitlyn Lusk’s soprano solos and the Canadian Children Opera Company’s subtle but eloquent odes to the landscapes and intimate scenes between characters – the emotion was at its height last night. There were tears, laughter, sighs of relief and ‘yes!’ in unison but the audience members. We were in union last night. Alastair Thorburn-Vitols the boy soprano was gentle in his intent with his performance but he was sure to provide the goose bump texture for the evening. The evening was rich, diverse and beautifully curated.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s deep bass made us cringe at numerous points throughout the performance. In those moments we constantly were made aware that the collective group of musicians, conductor and singers are true athletes. A three hour performance with one intermission – we felt emotionally and physically raw. Sure, these musicians are professionals – but how do they do it? Not only were they able to evoke, provoke and keep up with a consistent momentum and still ‘slay’ us – they did it with joy, verve and it was gobsmackingly good. The audience repaid the musicians with an epic prolonged standing ovation which was well deserved.
Music from the soundtrack that we visited in our travels together with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Shire and abroad included of:
Prologue: One Ring To Rule Them All
Very Old Friends
Farewell Dear Bilbo
Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe
A Conspiracy Unmasked
Three is Company
Saruman the White
A Shortcut to Mushrooms
The Caverns of Isengard
Give Up the Halfling
The Sword That Was Broken
The Council of Elrond Assembles
The Great Eye
The Pass of Caradhras
The Doors of Durin
The Mirror of Galadriel
The Fighting Uruk-hai
The Departure of Boromir
The Road Goes Ever On…
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is definitely on to something here. Last night was an excellent example of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra not only illuminating the beauty of Howard Shore’s score but also raising the bar on entertainment in the city of Toronto. The audience lay in awe as we left Roy Thomson Hall last night and brimming with gratitude for an art that is hardly fading thanks to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s efforts and gracious talent.
Spring has finally sprung in Toronto! What better time is it then to get out there and enjoy what makes the Toronto Symphony Orchestra great!
Through the ever-popular What Makes It Great?® series, engaging classical music expert, conductor, and host Rob Kapilow offers tips on what to listen for and looks at the intricacies of a variety of works. On May 19, for the final concert in the series, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 is examined during the first half of the evening. Following intermission, the audience is treated to a full performance of this timeless, warm-hearted piece with fresh insight and perspective.
Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a pair of ‘What Makes It Great?® Dvořák Symphony 8’ tickets!
What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway?
Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (email@example.com) telling me you why you want to win ‘What Makes It Great?® Dvořák Symphony 8’ tickets. By the way, stay tuned I have more tickets to TSO to giveaway in the weeks ahead!
Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway is Wednesday May 18, 2016.
Here’s the scoop!
What Makes It Great?® Dvořák Symphony 8
Thursday, May 19 at 7:30pm
Rob Kapilow, conductor & host
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8
About the TSO: Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally. Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; and music-education programs that reach tens of thousands of students each year.