This is the last week of Peter Oundjian's residence as Music Director of the TSO. While I don't think the TSO reaches the heights of the Montreal Symphony, it's a solid symphony. I've enjoyed seeing them perform, even though I don't care much for Roy Thompson Hall itself. Anyway, it will be a challenge to replace Mr. Oundjian, and in fact there will be an empty chair next year as they complete their search.
To celebrate his 14-year tenure at the TSO, the TSO threw a free concert on Friday, but the catch was it was a midday concert.
I decided I had put in enough extra time at work that I could take some time off, though I didn't go early. I went over at 11:45. The doors opened at 11:30, but the concert itself was supposed to start at 12:30. The line snaked well past Roy Thompson to King St. and then into the park next to Metro Hall.
I came close to giving up and going back to work, but remembered that it was a pretty big space inside, and I didn't really have anything to lose by standing in line for a while. I had brought a book with me, so I did a bit of reading as well. In the end, I think everyone in line did get in, though they may have cut off stragglers at some point. They started at 12:30 promptly, which was a bit of a surprise.
They kicked things off with "O Canada" (I really need to learn the words...), then an overture by Glinka (I believe it was the overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila). Followed by the last movement of Brahms' Symphony 1. Then they played the majority of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. They had Peter announce that they were suspending decorum and allowing photos (of the TSO playing Pictures), given that it was such a special occasion. I didn't bother, as I knew they wouldn't actually look that great (I was in the upper balcony). It was definitely a rousing finale with the gong going crazy in The Great Gate of Kiev. It was actually another small surprise that there was nothing pop-y in his selection for the free concert, but it was definitely all well done.
What was a bigger surprise is that after the concert ended, they wheeled out a podium and Mayor John Tory gave a short speech and presented Mr. Oundjian the key to the city. Definitely a classy move by a mayor who does genuinely support the arts. Peter Oundjian gave just a very few words of thanks, and then it was over (probably disappointing folks who thought there would be an encore).
I was content with the concert (and didn't need an encore). Plus, I really needed to get back to work anyway.