In the previous installment of our 2018-2019 orchestra preview, we focused on western provinces. This week, we look at orchestras in Ontario and Québec – and as with the western part of Canada, those provinces can look forward to some terrific music on offer this year.
Stratford Symphony Orchestra
Music lovers in Stratford can anticipate a number of musical delights from their orchestra season this year. For their observance of the centenary of the Armistice, the SSO will feature Paul Gross and David Keeley in a program focused on the events at Passchendaele (about which Paul Gross wrote and directed a movie several years ago). January brings the return of Rant Maggie Rant to the stage, joining the orchestra for a Celtic music celebration. Canadian violinist Sharon Wei is sure to delight audiences with Brahms’ Violin Concerto No. 1 in March.
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
Hamilton music fans can also anticipate a season of delights from their local orchestra. Highlights include an appearance by Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman in Elgar’s cello concerto in September; Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe and Canadian pianist André Laplante in an October program of Gluck, Beethoven, Hétu, and Mozart; baroque expert Ivars Taurins with a January feast of Bach to close out Hamilton’s Bach Festival; and a season finale featuring Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
As might be expected, the TSO has assembled a superb lineup of music for its 2018-2019 season. In September, Sir Andrew Davis leads the orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a premiere by Hétu and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique. The orchestra will perform Britten’s War Requiem in November (joined again by the Mendelssohn Choir) in what will surely be a moving tribute to Remembrance Day. February brings the stellar Canadian singer and conductor Barbara Hannigan leading the TSO in Debussy, Sibelius, and Haydn, as well as works by Berg and Gershwin that also featured in her recent award-winning album “Crazy Girl Crazy.” Jan Lisiecki returns in June with Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa)
Ottawa music lovers are fortunate indeed, as the NAC Orchestra has put together a schedule for 2018-2019 that should easily satisfy a broad spectrum of tastes. For folk/roots and pop fans, musicians slated to appear include Tom Wilson, Lynn Miles, and Stars, while classical superstars Jan Lisiecki, Amanda Forsyth (premiering a composition she commissioned from Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich), and James Ehnes (performing a new violin concerto by Bramwell Tovey) are certain to dazzle. Be sure to check out November’s ECM+ Generation composition competition, and Trevor Pinnock conducting Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in January.
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Under the baton of Kent Nagano, the OSM will bring a broad selection of fabulous music to the table this season. In October, Charles-Richard Hamelin will perform both of Chopin’s piano concertos, while November brings 2016 OSM Manulife Competition winner Blake Pouliot to the stage. In February, the orchestra will present a week highlighting “Brahms and the Art of Film.” For pop music lovers, Les Cowboys Fringants will appear with the orchestra in September, while Michel Pagliano will take the stage in April.
The OM and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin (who also leads the Philadelphia Orchestra, closer to our home base here in Pennsylvania) have an amazing season planned this year. The year begins in October with a program of Rachmaninoff and Sibelius that also features a premiere by Montréal composer Nicolas Gilbert, while December will bring French pianist Hélène Grimaud (who has frequently worked with Maestro Nézet-Séguin) to town for Schumann’s Piano Concerto. A trumpet concerto by Stacey Brown will be premiered by the orchestra in May; the season finishes with what is sure to be a superb performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”) – a timely choice coming as it does on the heels of Bernstein’s centenary.
Orchestra symphonique de Québec
As tempting as all the programs featured here are, I have to admit that the OSQ’s program is particularly enticing to me. French pianist Lise de la Salle will open the season in September with Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto; the month also brings a performance by singer Marie-Nichole Lemieux, who was absolutely dazzling in a Paris performance by the OM earlier this year (which I was fortunate to catch live-streamed). The orchestra performs Elgar’s Enigma Variations in February, and is joined for Haydn’s Cello Concerto #2 by French (but Montréal-born) cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras in April.
Two spring concerts will highlight some of the best in Québecois pop music – first, Pierre Lapointe in April, then composer Catherine Major in a May performance that will also feature Ariane Moffatt.