Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
Tafelmusik, Canada’s award-winning orchestra on period instruments, has become an internationally recognized ensemble lauded by Gramophone Magazine as “one of the world’s top baroque orchestras.” Founded in 1979 by Kenneth Solway and Susan Graves, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra was under the inspired leadership of Music Director Jeanne Lamon from 1981 to 2014. She assumes the role of Chief Artistic Advisor during the search for her successor in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, and will work on developing the Tafelmusik International Baroque Academy (TIBA). Lamon will continue to perform with the orchestra for specific Toronto and touring programmes during the next two seasons, and will lead artistic planning until Tafelmusik’s new Music Director is appointed.
With its artist-focused mandate and commitment to excellence and innovation, Tafelmusik is known around the world for its creative, innovative new contexts for the performance of baroque and classical music.
At the heart of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is a group of seventeen remarkably talented, enthusiastic, and dynamic permanent members, each of whom is a specialist in historical performance practice. Their collaboration results in a delightful transparency, vitality, and richness of sound, which has garnered acclaim around the world. The musicians participate on many levels, whether as core members, soloists, or contributors to the exceptionally creative programming ideas that bring Tafelmusik concerts to life and make them fully relevant in a 21st-century context.
Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall
Tafelmusik recently launched an ambitious $3 million project to revitalize Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, its home performance venue since 1981. The two-phase project is being undertaken in partnership with long-time collaborators Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and the Toronto Consort, and will help usher in Tafelmusik’s vision of becoming a global centre of excellence in period performance, while preserving the 125-year-old building’s sacred and historic character. Phase One renovations were completed in September 2013 and include acoustical improvements, the installation of a permanent stage, and more comfortable seating. Phase Two of the project will see improvements to the lobby/narthex area, increased wheelchair accessibility, installation of lighting and safety equipment, and improvements to air circulation.
In January 2012, Tafelmusik launched its own independent label, Tafelmusik Media, which encompasses new digital, live performance, studio CD and DVD recordings, and re-releases of previous Tafelmusik recordings from SONY Classical and CBC Records. The Watch and Listen site, launched as the precursor for Tafelmusik’s future digital concert hall, features excerpts from recent releases, including films from the House of Dreams DVD, and audio tracks from Beethoven Symphonies 1–4. Tafelmusik Media recordings are distributed by Naxos USA and Naxos Global Logistics.
Tafelmusik Chamber Choir
The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, specializing in baroque and classical performance practice, was formed in 1981 to complement the orchestra. Under the direction of Ivars Taurins, the choir was awarded the Healey Willan Prize in 1991 and has been described as “the best period-performance choir anywhere in the world” (The Globe and Mail).
The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir has made several critically acclaimed recordings, including Gloria in Excelsis Deo released on CBC Records in 2007 in celebration of the choir’s 25th anniversary season, and a live-concert CD of Handel’s Messiah recorded in 2011 at Koerner Hall, which was nominated for a 2013 JUNO Award. Tafelmusik’s annual performances of Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah have become an established part of Toronto's holiday tradition. In September 2011, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir appeared with Kent Nagano and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at the inaugural concerts of La Maison symphonique de Montréal. This performance of Beethoven Symphony no. 9 was recorded and has been released on CD by Analekta.
Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, 2011 (Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)
Tafelmusik’s regular tours in Canada, the United States, and Europe are complemented by tours to such destinations as Asia and Australia. The orchestra has toured in Asia since 1990, performing in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China.
Tafelmusik’s unique multidisciplinary and cross-cultural concert programmes — such as The Galileo Project and House of Dreams — were created by double bassist Alison Mackay and have opened doors around the world. In recent years, Tafelmusik has taken The Galileo Project on the road to Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Beijing Music Festival, and Kuala Lumpur. The orchestra returns to Australia and New Zealand in February and March, 2015, with House of Dreams. In 2013, House of Dreams travelled to Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as part of eight-city US Tour, and in November 2014, Tafelmusik returns for performances of The Galileo Project at Penn State University (State College, PA), Chicago, Kansas City, Houston, and Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), among other destinations. Tafelmusik also performed at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall in 2009, 2011, and 2014.
Tafelmusik has been invited to perform in Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Musikverein in Vienna, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, and the Barbican Centre in London. In June 2014, Tafelmusik made its debut as Orchestra-in-Residence at BachFest Leipzig, in the city where Bach spent the last 25 years of his life. Since 1984 Tafelmusik has also performed in Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and from coast to coast in the United States and Canada. Tafelmusik made its debut at the Reate Festival in Rieti, Italy by invitation from the Festival’s Artistic Director Kent Nagano in 2009, and was invited to return in August 2010.
The only Canadian orchestra to have held an annual international residency, Tafelmusik was orchestra-in-residence at the Klang und Raum Festival in Irsee, Germany for 19 years from 1993 to 2011. For Klang und Raum’s final edition, the festival’s Artistic Director Bruno Weil led Tafelmusik in works by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven.
An integral part of Tafelmusik’s success worldwide has been its recordings, with a discography of more than 80 baroque and classical albums on the Analekta, CBC Records, Sony Classical, Collegium, Hyperion and BMG Classics labels, nine of which have won JUNO Awards. Recent releases on the Tafelmusik Media label include Baroque Virtuoso (a limited edition commemorative CD featuring highlights from Jeanne Lamon’s recordings), Beethoven Symphonies 1 to 4, House of Dreams (CD and DVD), The Galileo Project (CD and DVD), Sing-Along Messiah (DVD), a live-concert CD of Messiah recorded in 2011 at Koerner Hall, and several re-releases of Tafelmusik CDs originally recorded for SONY and CBC Records.
Tafelmusik’s reach has extended to television and film, with performance documentaries Le Mozart Noir and The Four Seasons Mosaic. Produced by Media Headquarters, Le Mozart Noir is a documentary on Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a black French composer and contemporary of Mozart. Originally broadcast on CBC, BBC, PBS, TV5, and ARTV, the DVD was released in 2005. The Four Seasons Mosaic, also produced by Media Headquarters, is a cross-cultural arts special that reinvents Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to include a Chinese pipa, Indian sarangi, and Inuit throat-singing. The Four Seasons Mosaic premiered on CBC Television’s “Opening Night” in 2005, and the DVD is paired with Tafelmusik’s L’estro armonico CD. A live performance of Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah produced by 90th Parallel Productions was released on DVD 2012 on the Tafelmusik Media label, and has been telecast nationally on Bravo!, CTV, and by American public broadcaster WNED.
At home in Toronto, Tafelmusik performs over 50 concerts each season at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, a historic church in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, as well as a series of performances at George Weston Recital Hall in the Toronto Centre for the Arts, and at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for the Performing Arts, Royal Conservatory of Music.
Tafelmusik’s long and celebrated collaboration with Opera Atelier has helped establish Toronto as an important North American centre for baroque and classical opera performance. The two organizations collaborate on two productions per season in Toronto’s historic Elgin theatre. In 2012 Tafelmusik joined Opera Atelier at the Royal Opera House in Versailles, France to perform Lully’s Armide, and returned in May 2014 for performances of Lully’s Persée.
Working towards its vision of becoming an international centre of musical excellence, Tafelmusik has invested much energy and many resources into ongoing music education and outreach programs for music-lovers of all ages. In 2002, the orchestra and choir founded the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI). TBSI offers advanced students, pre-professional, and professional musicians an in-depth introduction to baroque repertoire and performance practice through masterclasses, lectures, orchestral and choral training, and chamber ensembles. TBSI is held at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, where Tafelmusik is the baroque orchestra-in-residence. Building on the success of TBSI, in January 2013, Tafelmusik launched the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, a week-long specialized institute for experienced players of period instruments. In 2010, Tafelmusik launched Baroque Mentors, allowing emerging artists to learn directly from Tafelmusik musicians and distinguished guest artists through university residencies and guest artist masterclasses.
Tafelmusik continues its commitment to the Advanced Certificate in Baroque Performance Programme at the University of Toronto. This one-year programme is an intensive immersion in baroque performance on period instruments, combining study and performance with Tafelmusik musicians with academic courses offered at the Faculty of Music. Also offered is a two-year graduate programme leading to a Master of Music in Period Performance.
Tafelmusik's vision for music education includes a programme for students in elementary and secondary schools featuring free outreach concerts, a musician-in-the-classroom programme, multi-disciplinary projects with area schools, and education events on tour, including children’s concerts and school visits. As part of an ongoing commitment to music education, Tafelmusik provides permanent music-education classroom materials to the school groups they meet on tour, including access to Tafelmusik’s online learning centre, curriculum-based study guides, the JUNO Award-winning TafelKIDS™ recording Baroque Adventure: The Quest for Arundo Donax CD, the critically acclaimed Four Season Mosaic DVD with Inuit, Chinese and South Asian musicians, and Tafelmusik recordings related to our education concerts.