The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has announced that the contract for music director Peter Oundjian has been extended through the end of the orchestra's 95th concert season, in 2016-17. With the extension, the Toronto-born maestro is set to become the longest-serving director since Andrew Davis (1975 to 1987), who now serves as conductor laureate.
"The continuing success of the TSO is enormously important to me," said Oundjian, in a statement. "I am delighted to have hired 30 new musicians during my tenure and thrilled to see how the orchestra is valued by the community." Oundjian, whose current contract with the TSO was to expire after the 2013-2014 season, assumed the director's post in 2004.
Last week it was revealed that the TSO would take part in the city's annual Luminato festival. Three concerts include a late-night rhapsodic Russian program on June 15, a birthday concert celebrating the bicentenary of composers Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi on June 21, and a music-mob event involving a cattle-call of singers and musicians for a grand outdoor performance of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and Verdi's Triumphal March on June 22.
Oundjian's own triumphal march is notable for the establishment of the New Creations Festival, an annual music series that highlights the works of contemporary composers and features numerous premieres and commissions. He also helped develop the TSO's "tsoundcheck" program, which recruits young audiences.
The 57-year-old conductor-director was once first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet, but his playing career was cut short do to a muscular disorder. In 2007, he conducted the premiere of Not The Messiah (He's A Very Naughty Boy), a comedic oratorio based on the Monty Python film Life Of Brian. The TSO-commissioned piece was co-written by Oundjian's cousin, the Python troupe member Eric Idle.