David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews
Not many people get a goodbye celebration at Roy Thomson Hall. Such was the case last night for Peter Oundjian with the hall filled to the choir lofts with an adoring public including the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell (Lieutenant Governor of Ontario), the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian ended his remarkable fourteen years at the orchestra’s helm as the TSO closed out its 2017/18 season. The sustained standing ovation by the sold-out hall was just the beginning of the show of love and appreciation for the music he has given and for what he has done for the orchestra, the city and the province.
In her remarks following the concert, Dowdeswell referred to Oundjian as a transformative leader, and a cultural ambassador who brought us music that touches our soul. The orchestra’s CEO Gary Hanson announced Oundjian’s honorary appointment as Conductor Emeritus. Oundjian responded saying it was the greatest honour of his life to be Music Director of the TSO. He thanked the engaged and faithful audience, the government for its support for touring with the orchestra and finally the musicians of whom close to half were hired by him. He specifically mentioned the leadership of the orchestra’s concert master, Jonathan Crow.
Oundjian chose to end his days in Toronto with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, one of the greatest musical masterpieces of all time. There isn’t much music out there that can create such an uplifting sense of joy and celebration – music of the highest order that though performed and recorded as much or more than any music, still packs a powerful freshness in the hands of great musicians.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was in fine form. The full complement of 130 singers was on hand to create the ecstasy of the final movement in which Beethoven used Schiller’s poem reflecting the doctrine of Enlightenment that reason would lead to a utopian world with harmony and social justice. The TMC is always at its best in choral-orchestral masterpieces and last night was no exception. The hall was filled with energy and glorious sounds.
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