50 Years Young: Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Marks a Half-Century of Talent Development for Next-Generation Artists

Season-long celebration includes special concerts, an exchange with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, and a new workshop series for members

Simon Rivard and the TSYO at their first performance of the season (Photo by Jag Gundu)
Simon Rivard and the TSYO at their first performance of the season (Photo by Jag Gundu)

Toronto, January 31, 2024 —The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is proud to announce that its pre-professional training program for young musicians, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO), launched its 50th season with a blazing performance of Fate: The Firebird + Tchaikovsky’s Fourth on November 25, 2023, at North York’s George Weston Recital Hall. This concert is the first of many events being held in celebration of a half-century of talent development for next-generation artists. Others include a side-by-side performance with the TSO, an exchange with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO), and a new series of workshops, entitled Tuned for Tomorrow, intended to equip members with essential life skills. This milestone year also marks TSYO Conductor Simon Rivard’s triumphant valedictory season as TSYO Conductor.

“It has been such an immense honour to lead and mentor the young musicians of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra for the past six years,” says Rivard. “And this 50th season feels like a joyful celebration of the TSYO’s past, present, and future: I’ve loved hearing from our alumni—many of whom have shared photographs, programs, and memories from their days in the orchestra—while working with our current members, who are all incredibly talented and so devoted to music-making. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to close out this momentous year, and my tenure, than with our exchange with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which will bring the international exposure and recognition our artists so richly deserve.”

Dedicated TSYO Concerts & TSO Side-by-Side Performance

Fate was the first of three dedicated TSYO concerts presented over the course of the season. Led by Simon Rivard and TSO RBC Resident Conductor Trevor Wilson, the ambitious program began with the fiercely energetic Overture by 20th-century Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz, followed by the suite from Stravinsky’s colourful ballet The Firebird and the deeply affecting emotional journey that is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. 

The latter piece will be revisited on an even grander scale on May 10 and 11, 2024, when the musicians of the TSYO and TSO perform it side by side on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall, under the baton of Music Director Gustavo Gimeno at the conclusion of the TSO’s Tchaikovsky & Brahms program. Though the joint performance is a highly anticipated annual event, this year represents the first time a full symphony will be performed by both ensembles side by side.

The other two dedicated TSYO programs bring an eclectic mix of classic and new: On February 17, 2024, Britannia explores the best of Britain through the music of Holst, Elgar, and contemporary composers Hannah Kendall and James MacMillan. And on April 27, 2024, Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 1 anchors Titan, which also includes Shostakovitch’s Festive Overture, and Kalevi Aho’s Bassoon Concerto featuring soloist Cian Bryson, a winner of the 2022/23 TSYO Concerto Competition.

Exchange with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony will be revisited one final time on June 1, 2024, as the second half of a special concert harnessing the combined musical forces of the TSYO and the COYO, with TSYO Conductor Simon Rivard and COYO Music Director Daniel Reith trading off between movements. This not-to-be-missed performance is part of an orchestra exchange, envisioned to promote musical learning and global musicianship, which will also include a joint concert at Blossom Music Center, the summer home of The Cleveland Orchestra, on May 27, 2024, marking the TSYO’s first appearance outside Ontario since 2017. The top half of the program will see the two orchestras perform works by Stravinsky, Brahms, and Piston independently.

Tuned for Tomorrow Workshops

Succeeding as a professional musician requires more than artistic talent, which is why, as part of its 50th season, the TSYO is expanding its curriculum to include a series of workshops designed to develop well-rounded artists who are capable of adapting to the requirements of the profession as it is today. The free, 90-minute Tuned for Tomorrow sessions are held monthly, immediately following TSYO rehearsals, and they address the following non-performance-related topics:

  • Community Musicianship
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Arts
  • Preparing for a Music Exchange
  • The Alexander Technique & Yoga for Musicians
  • What Is Your “Why”?
  • Audition Preparation & Performance Psychology
  • So You Want (Need) to Be an Entrepreneur
  • Financial Planning for Musicians
  • Telling Your Story through Marketing

This workshop series is a welcome complement to the TSYO’s existing slate of cultivation activities, which include a Camp Weekend comprising intensive rehearsals, workshops, and team-building and leadership opportunities; the TSYO Concerto Competition wherein participants perform for a jury consisting of TSYO faculty members and TSO musicians for the chance to win a solo appearance with either orchestra; and master classes with many of the TSO’s internationally celebrated guest artists.

Concert Information & Tickets

Britannia

Artists

  • Simon Rivard, conductor
  • Trevor Wilson, RBC Resident Conductor

Dates

  • Sat, Feb 17, 2024 at 3:00pm – George Weston Recital Hall

 

Titan: A Celebration of the TSYO’s 50th Anniversary!

Artists

  • Simon Rivard, conductor
  • Cian Bryson, bassoon (2022/23 TSYO Concerto Competition Winner)
  • Trevor Wilson, RBC Resident Conductor

Dates

  • Sat, Apr 24, 2024 at 3:00pm – Roy Thomson Hall

 

Tchaikovsky + Brahms

Artists

  • Gustavo Gimeno, conductor
  • Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin
  • Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

Dates

  • Fri, May 10, 2024 at 7:30pm – Roy Thomson Hall
  • Sat, May 11, 2024 at 8:00pm – Roy Thomson Hall

 

TSYO & Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra

Artists

  • Daniel Reith, conductor
  • Simon Rivard, conductor
  • Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra
  • Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra

Dates

  • Sat, Jun 1, 2024 at 3:00pm – Roy Thomson Hall

About the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

For 50 seasons, since its founding under the direction of Victor Feldbrill in 1974, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) has been dedicated to providing a high-level orchestral experience for talented young musicians aged 22 and under. The tuition-free TSYO program delivers a unique, powerful, and life-enriching opportunity that encourages significant achievement, regardless of participants’ chosen career paths. The TSYO is closely affiliated with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO): TSO musicians serve as coaches through the season, TSO guest artists lead TSYO master classes, and the TSYO performs annually with the TSO in a side-by-side concert. The youth orchestra has toured extensively within Canada and abroad. Tour destinations have included Banff, British Columbia, the Canadian Arctic, Quebec, Texas, Massachusetts, California, Japan, and Europe. Visit TSO.CA/TSYO.

About Simon Rivard

Conductor Simon Rivard is becoming one of the most sought-after conductors on the Canadian music scene, as evidenced by his most recent appointment as Music Director of the Edmonton Opera. Rivard has been the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Conductor since 2018. The 2023/24 season sees Rivard on the podium with I Musici de Montréal, Orchestre symphonique de Laval, and l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, while leading the Edmonton Opera’s full season, which includes Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Wagner’s Das Rheingold. He will also collaborate with Toronto-based chamber ensemble The Happenstancers and soprano Elizabeth Polese in music by Elliott Carter, John Cage, Lukas Foss, and Olivier Messiaen. From 2018 to 2022, he held the title of RBC Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, where he was mentored by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno and Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis. Since 2019, he has been an Equilibrium Young Artist, as part of Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan’s internationally acclaimed mentorship program for early-career professional musicians. Born in Montreal, Rivard studied violin performance with Anne Robert and orchestral conducting with Raffi Armenian at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. He completed an MMus in orchestral conducting at McGill University under Alexis Hauser and Guillaume Bourgogne.

About the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

For over a century, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has played a fundamental role in shaping and celebrating Canadian culture. Now in our 101st year, the TSO’s commitment to musical excellence and ability to spark connection remain as strong as ever. With a storied history of acclaimed concerts and recordings, Canadian and international tours, and impactful community partnerships, we are dedicated to engaging and enriching local and national communities through vibrant musical experiences. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the 93-musician orchestra that serves Toronto—one of the world’s most diverse cities. As a group of artists, teachers, and advocates who share the belief that music has the power to heal, inspire, and connect people from all walks of life, we engage audiences young and old through an array of education, community-access, and health-and-wellness initiatives. The 2023/24 season marks the 50th anniversary of the TSO-affiliated Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra—a tuition-free training program dedicated to cultivating the next generation of Canadian artists. Join us for a concert at Roy Thomson Hall, or experience the TSO in your neighbourhood. Visit TSO.CA or Newsroom.TSO.CA.

 

The TSO acknowledges Mary Beck as the Musicians’ Patron in perpetuity for her generous and longstanding support.

The TSO Season Presenting Sponsor is BMO Financial Group.

Gustavo Gimeno’s appearances are generously supported by Susan Brenninkmeyer, in memory of Hans Brenninkmeyer. 

The TSO is grateful for the support of the Toronto Symphony Foundation and all levels of government, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario.

 

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Media Contact

For media requests, please contact:

Tat Read, Senior Director, Communications

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

[email protected]

Visit Newsroom.TSO.CA

About Toronto Symphony Orchestra

For over a century, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has played a fundamental role in shaping and celebrating Canadian culture. Now in our 101st year, the TSO’s commitment to musical excellence and ability to spark connection remain as strong as ever. With a storied history of acclaimed concerts and recordings, Canadian and international tours, and impactful community partnerships, we are dedicated to engaging and enriching local and national communities through vibrant musical experiences. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the nearly 100-musician orchestra that serves Toronto—one of the world’s most diverse cities. As a group of artists, teachers, and advocates who share the belief that music has the power to heal, inspire, and connect people from all walks of life, we engage audiences young and old through an array of education, community access and health and wellness initiatives. The 2023/24 season marks the 50th anniversary of the TSO-affiliated Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra—a tuition-free training program dedicated to cultivating the next generation of Canadian artists. Join us for a concert at Roy Thomson Hall, or experience the TSO in your neighbourhood. Visit TSO.CA or newsroom.tso.ca.

Contact

500-145 Wellington St. W. Toronto, ON M5J 1H8

416.593.7769

[email protected]

tso.ca