“There’s nothing like the sound of 2,000 people applauding,” said Matthew Loden, Toronto Symphony Orchestra CEO, on September 23, as he welcomed back TSO new music director, Gustavo Gimeno, and principal flutist, Kelly Zimba, during the TSO’s Virtual Opening Night event. A video of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No.2, conducted by Gimeno from October 2019, had just finished its online broadcast and Loden was in the process of re-introducing Zimba and Gimeno to viewers for a virtual conversation.
“I find it uncomfortable to watch myself,” said the conductor – from his home in Amsterdam – in answer to a question by Loden. “My analytic mind wonders ‘Could I have done something different?’ – but the music is moving and emotionally powerful… the human being can’t stop the emotion… I got goosebumps right away... It’s simply wonderful to see the faces of the musicians around me and the audience.”
That October 2019 performance of the Ravel Daphnis and Chloé was Gimeno’s third time conducting the TSO and Loden asked whether it felt different. Gimeno said that he felt a connection to the orchestra within the first half of the first rehearsal he ever had with them. “With the atmosphere, with the sound and the way of making music, I felt in the right place.” And the TSO still feels like his musical family, but now that he’s no longer a guest conductor “the analysis goes much further and deeper.”
“We were all very excited to work with Gustavo,” Zimba said. “The energy that was onstage was really strong and palpable… We really trusted Gustavo’s musical vision.”