Royal Conservatory presses on ‘optimistically’ with Koerner Hall’s new season

A celebration of Miles Davis, a tribute to Aretha Franklin, Dave Brubeck’s centennial, an evening with Bobby McFerrin and 250 years of Beethoven are among the highlights of Koerner Hall’s upcoming season.

On Tuesday, the Royal Conservatory of Music announced 110 concerts featuring artists from 43 countries that will make up its 12th season.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put countless concerts and other large gatherings on hold, the Royal Conservatory is pressing cautiously ahead with its 2020-21 season in the hopes that it will be able to welcome attendees to its concerts again.

“Music has been uniting us through these unprecedented times and, should the government directives on social distancing be lifted, we eagerly anticipate when we can gather once again to enjoy music collectively,” said Dr. Peter Simon, the Royal Conservatory’s president and chief executive.

Organizers have reduced Koerner Hall’s capacity and restructured its ticketing system in order to ensure safe physical distancing at their concerts.

“Nothing compares to the power of live music and the collective experience of sharing it together. Music is enormously important to well-being and strengthening our spirits,” added Mervon Mehta, the Royal Conservatory’s executive director of performing arts. “Therefore, we are cautiously and optimistically moving forward with plans for the 2020-21 concert season in a way that is safe and responsible.”

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The upcoming season includes several unique concert series, including one highlighting jazz from around the world and another spotlighting exemplary women in music.

The Jazz From Around the World concert series will feature jazz artists from 10 different countries, including Joey Alexander from Indonesia, Youn Sun Nah from South Korea, Tigran Hamasyan from Armenia, and an Indian tribute to Miles Davis.

The Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage concert series features a tribute to Aretha Franklin with Damien Sneed, along with performances by Dianne Reeves, Rosanne Cash, and the all-female all-star group Artemis.

Among the other noteworthy concerts in Koerner Hall’s upcoming season are the Brubeck Brothers Quartet‘s celebration of Dave Brubeck’s centennial on Nov. 28, and an evening with the recently awarded NEA Jazz Master Bobby McFerrin on Dec. 12.

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In November and December, the month-long Beethoven 250 Festival — co-curated with Mervon Mehta and Canadian violinist James Ehnes — will display a range of musical perspectives and interpretations of Beethoven’s music, including solo, chamber, orchestral, jazz and operatic works across 17 individual concerts.

The second half of January marks the 21C Music Festival, featuring fresh sounds and ideas from some of the world’s most fearless musicians. That includes a spotlight on the Kronos Quartet, violinist Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà, the Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble and appearances by the ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory).

Before all that, the Royal Conservatory will kick things off with its season gala on Oct. 17, featuring Follies in Concert — starring Eric McCormack, Chilina Kennedy, Cynthia Dale, and Thom Allison — in honour of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday.

For the Royal Conservatory’s full 2020-21 season, visit