Maestro moves on: Toronto in search for new chief

Maestro moves on: Toronto in search for new chief


norman lebrecht

February 09, 2016

Peter Oundjian has let it be known he won’t be staying as music director of the Toronto Symphony beyond 2018. He has two and a half seasons left. He is also music director of the Royal Scottish National Orch.

The search starts now. Toronto is not an easy orchestra to lead, either from the podium or the management office.

peter oundjian


  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    Bah!!!!! Superb orchestral trainer and a wonderful musician.

  • harold braun says:

    Heard them live on tour and on their live recordings under Oundjian….Fantastic,world class band(brass knocks your socks off!),great relationship and music making!

  • harold braun says:

    Just by the way…..Jakob Hrusa would be a great choice….and the second great czech conductor in Toronto….after the unforgotten Karel Ancerl.Just one question,what leads you to believe the TSO is difficult to conduct from the podium?I happen to know a principal player of the orchestra,never got this impression….

    • Anthony Kershaw says:

      Yes, Norman, would you mind expanding on that? I’ve been to umpteen rehearsals and know the back staff very well. No orchestra is perfect, but the orchestra from ‘Toronto the Good’ always seems so well behaved and utterly professionally, even under conductors not always of even temperament. Cheers, a

    • Al says:

      Actually, JakUb Hrusa . You need to work on your Czech spelling 😉

  • John Holland says:

    I definitely agree about Jakub Hrusa. He would be a fantastic choice. Young, energetic and engaging. He is an excellent conductor, and wonderful in connecting with audiences. It would be a great choice following Peter.

    • V.Lind says:

      That’s a bandwagon I could get on in a hurry. Saw Hrusa on the podium a couple of summers ago — I went to hear a particular piece, as I recall a Haydn trumpet concerto, not because of whoever was playing under whom, and came away deeply impressed by him and hoping to see him again. I think he would suit Toronto nicely, and v.v.

  • nerd says:

    two and half years left, not one and a half. contract ends 2017-18.

  • BEN says:

    I agree about Hrusa. Rafael Payare would also be a good choice. I saw him conduct Chicago Symphony and he is incredibly engaging and has a lot to say musically.

  • RW2013 says:

    no young, blond women in the running?

    • CDH says:

      Would even that satisfy NL, who seems to be viciously anti-Toronto, based apparently on his being wrong-footed on the decision to withdraw an invitation to a mouthy and bigoted pianist who turned out, in the end, to flap her mouth on behalf of another of his bugaboos, V. Putin.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        CDH, you’re making false assumptions and occupying too much space on my site.

        • CDH says:

          I’d be happy to be told where I went wrong: you were very hostile for some weeks to the TSO and Jeff Melanson (even to the point of getting the site into his divorce, though in fairness you do publish lots of social stuff) for the Lisitsa situation and very defensive of her until she began popping up with regularity and audibility on the Russian side of the Russo-Ukrainian disputes.

          Most subsequent references to TSO have been chilly, and the remarks above are rather wide of the mark. I will not quibble with you on front office stuff — while I thought Melanson did the right thing regarding Lisitsa, in what was a very tough choice, he does appear to be a bit of a pain in the proverbial. But this is widely considered a fine orchestra and has a long history of wonderful conductors, most of whom have stayed quite some time, most recently Mr. Oundjian — you might want to take a look at the documentary Five Days in September about his entry to the scene. It also has a continuous roster of the top artists in the world, who would surely not continue to come on a regular basis if they weer not comfortable with the Orchestra.

          Mr. Oundjian was originally engaged to reinvigorate the Orchestra in the community — like most in North America it has its share of problems, and in the rich cultural scene of Toronto has lots of competition for both audiences and corporate and private support. He has been a success and may well feel it is time to move on. He has given TSO a lot, and lots of notice to find a good replacement.

          I’m not a frequent poster here compared to many. I did not know you measured.

          • Milka says:

            That is the trouble with the TSO – it is a fine orchestra and not much else .
            Mr. Oundjian rises to the level of fine.Since the days of MacMillan it has been
            a fine orchestra.Artistic creativity needs more than” fine” . Toronto the good is
            a fine city but dull as dishwater . Artists come to Toronto if the buck is good .

          • CDH says:

            @Milka: I have rarely heard such rubbish. There is nothing dull about Toronto, artists choose to come there because they like it (see Rolling Stones, among others) and it has a vibrant culture — if you have not found it you need to get out more.

            Among TSO’s great conductors have been Ozawa, Ancerl (possibly the greatest), Sir Andrew Davis and Saraste. The presence of Melanson may put some people off, but there are others who come regularly — Dausgaard is one notable who perhaps ought not to be overlooked in the succession stakes. It will be interesting to see who takes it up. I still hope for Hrusa.

          • Milka says:

            TSO is really a stepping stone, training orchestra- the conductors mentioned
            all modest” fine” conductors,in my observation one went if there wasn’t anything better to
            occupy the evening . The real interesting Toronto music making is always the Opera Atelier
            One always makes time to hear and see what they are up to .

  • AD says:

    “Toronto is not an easy orchestra to lead, either from the podium or the management office.”

    This statement is quite offsides, even for you Lebrecht. Many of us know this orchestra very well including the administration. You couldn’t find a more welcoming orchestra in terms of outstanding musicianship and respect for each other and their guests, and a first-class administration hands down. Aside from your well-documented hatred of Melanson which is dripping from this statement, you really should back up your words with some concrete background or facts.

    It’s like the kid in the schoolyard who runs up, punches you in the back, and then runs away and hides, teasing you from the sidelines. Really. Do yourself a favour.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      So very easy for you to make these jibes anonymously. I stand by my view and have the facts to back it. They will be rolled out as and when I decide.

      • AD says:

        1) Jibes? What jibes? Merely stating facts. A simple search of your site backs this up with your own words.

        2) Sooo…you have nothing really to say and nothing to back yourself up. Wow.

        3) This was not anonymous. I provided my email and signed with my initials as I commonly do. Very common in fact for many users of many sites.

        4) “I know you are, but what am I” was essentially your response. A classic Trump-esque reply. Now THAT was a jibe.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    Would I had the talents to set Norman’s piece and the ensuing conversation here to music – perhaps as a buffo chamber opera in one short act, no more than 30 minutes or so. To be premiered in Toronto…;-)

  • Juan says:

    I live in Toronto and I can assure you the orchestra is not world class. Many are the missed entries and cacked notes per peformance.