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Bill Murray Headlines 2017-18 Season Gala

Bill Murray

Yes, that Bill Murray: the star of Caddyshack is coming to Koerner Hall. On Friday, October 13, the Oscar-nominated actor will join his friend, cellist Jan Vogler, for our 2017-18 Season Gala. During the wide-ranging night of music and literature, Murray will read Mark Twain and dance a tango while Vogler plays works from Bach, Piazzolla, Ravel, and Bernstein.                                                     

It will be the second time a Hollywood actor will headline our gala concert; screen legend Meryl Streep made a memorable appearance in 2015. All the same, Mehta acknowledges it might seem odd to present a performer best known for roles in movies like Groundhog Day, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Ghostbusters. “Our Season Gala should be special,” Mehta notes. “It should be off the beaten track and a little bit different.” The concert will also be rare; so far Murray and Vogler’s only other scheduled appearance is at Carnegie Hall.

The Season Gala is one of nearly 30 classical and jazz concerts announced today to give a first taste of the 2017-18 season (the full lineup will be unveiled in June). These performances feature superstar debuts, returning favourites, and a fascinating jazz series exploring the roots of the genre.

Joshua Bell Makes Koerner Hall Debut

Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell will make his Koerner Hall debut on November 4, and is excited at the prospect. According to Mehta: “He came to visit during our first season and exclaimed: ‘Man, I’d love to play here’— it has taken nine years to make it happen!”

Bell is one of many internationally acclaimed artists who will make their first appearance in Koerner Hall in 2017-18. Beloved cellist Gautier Capuçon will present a beautiful program of French and Russian works. Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, whom Mehta admits to having “chased for five years,” will perform a recital of works of the Second Viennese School.

Young French pianist Lucas Debargue, who created a sensation at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, will make his Koerner Hall debut as part of an ensemble playing seminal works of 20th century chamber music. Award-winning cellist Nicolas Altstaedt will perform alongside Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say, fellow cellist Clemens Hagen will give a recital with returning pianist Kirill Gerstein, and the Khachaturian Trio will present a collection of Russian and Armenian works.

International Stars Make Return Appearances

Yuja Wang, Khatia Buniatishvili, and alumna Angela Hewitt are three of the preeminent pianists returning to Koerner Hall next season. They are also among the six artists featured in our popular Invesco Piano Concerts, featuring an all-female roster of musicians. Rounding out the series are rising star Beatrice Rana and celebrated siblings Katia and Marielle Labèque.

Grammy Award-winning Canadian baritone Gerald Finley will also make a welcome return to Koerner Hall with pianist Julius Drake. Lovers of the male voice can also look forward to a Valentine’s Day recital by British tenor Ian Bostridge.

Among the returning string and chamber artists are Spanish viol master Jordi Savall. He will lead his ensemble Hespèrion XXI as well as multi-instrumentalist Carlos Núñez in an exploration of Celtic music. The Takács Quartet will perform works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Shostakovich, and our friends at the Amici Chamber Ensemble will celebrate their 30th anniversary with a concert featuring alumna Isabel Bayrakdarian.

Four wonderful conductors will once again return to Koerner Hall to lead the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, one of the top training orchestras in North America. Gábor Takács-Nagy, Johannes Debus, Honorary Fellow Tania Miller, and Ihnatowycz Chair in Piano Leon Fleisher – celebrating his 90th birthday in 2018 – will work with the orchestra, comprised of students of The Glenn Gould School.

Jazz Series Explores Roots of the Art Form

After eight seasons spent showcasing various dimensions of jazz music, Mehta will present a deconstructionist series in 2017-18. The six concerts will examine the roots – and routes – from which the genre grew.

“There’s a huge debate about what makes music jazz,” he observes. “The reality is that jazz incorporates so many ingredients, whether it’s the sounds of Africa, Latin America, or the Great American Songbook. I’m looking forward to exploring these influences with many of our favourite artists.”

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves will showcase the influences of the Great American Songbook. The Latin roots of jazz – and the 100th birthday of Thelonious Monk – will be celebrated by pianists Danilo Pérez and Alfredo Rodríguez. Fellow pianist Gerald Clayton will explore jazz through the lens of the blues. Legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela will honour the genre’s African sounds, while Hot Sardines and Flavia Nascimento will celebrate its connection to the swinging sounds of France and Brazil. Lastly, the funk- and rock-inspired music of Miles Davis’s electric period will be performed by the Miles Electric Band.

Concert Pays Tribute to Leonard Bernstein

One of the most special concerts of the season will be a tribute to the 100th birthday of legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, an artist close to Mehta’s heart.

“I grew up on West Side Story, On the Town, and Candide,” he said. “I also love MASS and especially the ‘Kaddish’ symphony, which I’ve narrated with several orchestras.”

Mehta believes Bernstein is nothing less than “one of the most celebrated and seminal artists of the 20th century.” He points out that Bernstein brought Gustav Mahler back into the public consciousness, was a gifted conductor, pianist, and educator, and “on top of that, was the toast of Broadway.”

Bernstein @ 100 will feature diverse performers including German pianist Sebastian Knauer, mezzo-soprano and alumna Wallis Giunta, our Grammy Award-nominated ensemble-in-residence, the ARC Ensemble, as well as the daughter of Leonard Bernstein, Jamie Bernstein.

This concert will be the latest in a series of anniversary-themed shows that have honoured artists from Frank Sinatra to Edith Piaf. It’s a concept to which Mehta promises to return, because the events have proven to be so meaningful to audience members.

“These artists created the soundtracks to our lives.”

Subscriptions go on sale  February 3, 2017 and single tickets go on sale Friday, February 10, 2017 at 10am. Visit performance.rcmusic.ca to purchase.

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Synopsis

Academy Award-nominated actor Bill Murray will headline our 2017-18 Season Gala. The concert is one of nearly 30 classical and jazz performances announced today.