Just in: Toronto scraps half of 2021

Just in: Toronto scraps half of 2021


norman lebrecht

July 06, 2020

The Toronto Symphony has just called off its 2020/21 subscription season in Roy Thomson Hall.

The plan is to play smaller venues to smaller audiences around the city, to be announced.

This could be an opportunity, if only to reassess the hall as an inhibiting factor to the orchestra’s creativity.

First response from Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt:

press release:

Toronto, Ontario—July 6, 2020: In light of the uncertainty and continually evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has made the difficult decision to cancel all previously announced concerts in the 2020/21 season. The TSO plans to perform redesigned concerts and programs in communities across the GTA, including at Roy Thomson Hall, for audience and ensemble sizes that align with current health regulations. The TSO’s aspiration is for its musicians to perform and engage with diverse communities, connecting with new and existing patrons through concerts and initiatives scattered throughout the region, with robust online offerings also being planned. More information about these programs will be available in early fall.

“We are fiercely committed to continuing to perform for Torontonians as the pandemic situation permits. The TSO has spent the past year developing a strategic plan to evolve our Orchestra in a way that reflects Toronto’s vibrancy, diversity, and creativity. A key pillar of that work has always been to expand our activities outside our traditional concert venue and to listen to our community. This approach also gives us the opportunity to listen to a wide range of voices as we strengthen our diversity, inclusion, and equity plans. As devastating as it is to lose our subscription season, we are also eager to find unique musical moments in our home at Roy Thomson Hall while we explore how music plays a role in city-building and the well-being of our citizens,” said Matthew Loden, CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


  • BP says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is wrong with the orchestra’s hall ?

    • The View from America says:

      Depending on what’s being presented, it can sound rather clangorous …

    • V. Lind says:

      There are two schools of thought on the acoustics. It would appear Mr. Lebrecht is among the group that dislikes them.

    • CA says:

      The orchestra is looking for ways to play in smaller groups for smaller audiences. Rent for a giant concert hall is hard enough to pay or cover without attempting to have a less than fifty percent filled paying audience due to social distancing requirements. They likely will look to churches, breweries, smaller stages and spaces where such usage or staffing/security costs are nowhere near what they might be for their regular concert hall. That’s my guess. And a different “ambience”–more intimacy-with the audience that does come!

    • Guest says:

      The acoustic. It has problems with sound blending together.

      I sat dead centre of the 1st balcony for a piano concerto (not a cheap ticket, I might add) and the soloist got swallowed up by orchestra at times (and not because the soloist wasn’t playing out)
      I sat in a side box on the main floor for a Brahms symphony, and I swear I could hear only horns in one ear, and trumpets in the other. The person sitting next to me also noted all they could hear was horns as well.
      It was bizarre.

  • Doug says:

    “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

    -Samuel Beckett

  • Ray Madden says:

    There is no oomph to the sound in Roy Thomson Hall. Been there, done that.

  • Lee Merrick says:

    What happens to subscribers payment for a full year series?

    • Orchestral Musician says:

      Season tickets can be transferred to the 21/22 season, or subscribers can receive a full refund.
      Alternatively, tickets can be donated to the TSO for a charitable tax receipt.
      Given the circumstances, I think the TSO management has made the correct decision.