At its Annual General Meeting, held earlier today, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) detailed the many successes of its 2021/22 season—including the elimination of an accumulated deficit that existed for over four decades.
In their reports, Chief Executive Officer Mark Williams and Board Treasurer Peter Hinman shared that the organization closed the 2022 fiscal year with a surplus of $901K, resulting in an accumulated surplus—the TSO’s first since 1979—of $781K. Reaching this significant milestone was made possible thanks to the steadfast support of many generous donors over the years, transformational bequests, crucial government funding, and sound fiscal management.“It feels fitting that we enter our next century with a clean slate and better positioned to weather the challenges to come as we collectively rebuild and adjust to our post-pandemic reality,” noted Mr. Williams, who emphasized that the continued generosity of the community, the dedication of the TSO’s musicians, and the hard work of its staff are what fuel the organization and will allow it to successfully face future headwinds.
The 2021/22 season was one of sizable adjustment as well. During her report, Board Chair Catherine Beck acknowledged the extraordinary conditions under which last year’s concerts began:“For all the challenges we faced and opportunities we created over the past 100 years,” explained Ms. Beck, “nothing compares to the context in which our musicians and staff performed last season, and I am confident in saying that the experience of hearing live symphonic music in a concert hall has never been as vital and uplifting to our audiences as it was in 2021/22.”
With the opening of the season purposely delayed until November, initial performances were held with enforced capacity limits on both audiences and musicians. Further, in the winter, due to a surge in COVID-19 infections, Ontario concert halls were ordered to close, and the TSO was forced to cancel two months’ worth of programs. It was not until the spring that the Orchestra was able to present—for the first time in two years—full-length concerts with large ensembles for maximum-capacity houses. The season fittingly concluded with the full Orchestra, guest soloists, and a chorus performing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” under the baton of Music Director Gustavo Gimeno.
This culminating event was representative of the magnificent artistry on display throughout 2021/22, in spite of the instability and volatility of the year. Maestro Gimeno—who was, at last, able to conduct in-person concerts as the TSO’s Music Director—shared what he considered to be the artistic highlights of the season during his report. He mentioned World Premières of works by Francisco Coll, Samy Moussa, and Zosha Di Castri, and the five Celebration Preludes (TSO Centennial Commissions from Toronto-based composers) in addition to performances of beloved masterpieces by Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky, and Brahms. He further noted how the TSO continued to help pave the way for the future of orchestral music through the NextGen Composer Program, its involvement in the Women in Musical Leadership conducting fellowship (in partnership with Tapestry Opera), and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra’s pre-professional training.
Mr. Gimeno also cited as a high point the concert that served to inaugurate the TSO’s 100th Celebrations—Celebrate 100: Maestros’ Special Homecoming—which saw five Music Directors, past and present, share the stage.“This unique moment was a joyous celebration of who we are—a vibrant and continuously evolving orchestra with deep musical roots,” said Maestro Gimeno. “The event particularly resonated with me because it was clear how meaningfully connected our patrons are to our legacy, and to our musicians.”
Connecting with new audiences while inspiring a renewed appreciation for the Orchestra in Toronto is also a priority for the TSO, and much progress was made in this regard in 2021/22. Mr. Williams explained that TSO musicians brought orchestral music to many in the community who had not previously been audience members, including new Canadians through the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and youth from the YMCA’s Black Achievers Program. Additionally, through partnerships with the Alzheimer Society of Peel and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Orchestra members performed for health-care workers, and for isolated seniors and their caregivers via digital concerts.
Digital performances allowed the TSO to provide learning opportunities for young people as well. Educational offerings included Zoophony, an entertaining collaboration with the Toronto Zoo; virtual Classroom Concerts, which reached thousands of students across the province; and a digital reimagining of Mistatim in partnership with Red Sky Performance, which allowed the TSO to engage more earnestly with Indigenous artists in Toronto and beyond.
Projects like Mistatim align with the organization’s recent efforts to enhance and transform its commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity, both on stage and off. As part of this process, a cross-constituency committee was formed to lead the institution’s evolution and hold it accountable. Mr. Williams iterated that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is committed to being a leader in the arts community and will continue in this important work to be more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming to its patrons, volunteers, musicians, and staff.“As we look forward to the next season of unforgettable performances, the next decade of deepening community engagement, and the next century of artistic excellence, I see an orchestra with ever-growing impact here in our home city of Toronto, and around the world,” added Mr. Williams. “The circumstance of the past seasons offered the Toronto Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to think expansively and act boldly in bringing music to our patrons in new ways, fundamentally shaping how we think of ourselves as Toronto’s symphony orchestra.”
The Music Director, CEO, and Board Chair all concluded their reports by inviting attendees to take part in the Centennial Celebration spanning the entire 2022/23 season, and sincerely thanking the many donors, patrons, volunteers, government funders, and corporate partners who have invested in the work of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and recognize the abundance of opportunity that awaits it in the years to come.
Read the TSO’s 2021/22 Annual Letter to the Community.