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Dec 18, 2012

Actor R.H. Thomson joins Tafelmusik for Baroque London

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Toronto, Canada, December 17, 2012 … One of Canada’s most renowned and respected actors, R.H. Thomson returns to Tafelmusik January 17 to 22, 2013 for Baroque London, a words-and-music exploration into the world of London’s concert halls circa 1720. Baroque London is conceived, scripted, and acted by R.H. Thomson, who lends his imagination to what life would have been like for Mr. Richard Neale, an oboist in the King’s Theatre Haymarket. The first Englishman to be hired in Handel’s orchestra in London, Neale would have played for many important composers of the era. Handel’s music forms the backbone of this programme, which includes works by several of his contemporaries.

R.H. Thomson has worked with Tafelmusik on many occasions, bringing scripts and characters to life in such programmes as Metamorphosis and Purcell’s King Arthur. For Baroque London, Thomson explores a character of his own creation. “What attracted me to Richard Neale, the forgotten oboist, was his ordinariness. Democracy stirs when the commoner is heard. We hear stories of the greats, the famous and the favourites, but who were the common players?” says Thomson.

Thomson collaborated closely with Tafelmusik Music Director Jeanne Lamon, who programmed the music for Baroque London.  Mr. Neale’s remembrances will be interwoven among several works by Handel including the Entrance of the Queen of Sheba and excerpts from three of the composer’s concerti grossi, and music by John Loeillet, Giuseppe Sammartini, Johann Quantz, John Galliard, Giovanni Bononcini, Francesco Geminiani and Pietro Castrucci.
Lamon says, “What I found interesting are the similarities between baroque London and Toronto today: none of the composers on this programme was born in England! They were mostly German and Italian, with one Belgian. London in 1720 was a really cosmopolitan city of immigrants, but our oboist, Mr. Neale, was an Englishman.”

R.H. Thomson is a Canadian actor and director who has worked for thirty years in Canada, the US and the EU in theatre, film and television. Most recently he appeared in Atom Egoyan’s film Chloe, and the CBC television mini-series The Englishman’s Boy based on the novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe.  His solo theatre piece The Lost Boys was based on the 700 letters from his five great uncles who served in WWI. Thomson has created many arts/history projects including Canada 1914-1918 Ypres, an international history and remembrance presentation which he co-produced in 2010. He is currently working on an international vigil project planned for the 2014 anniversary of WWI.

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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, led by Music Director Jeanne Lamon and founded in 1979, is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles. The orchestra performs over 50 concerts a year at home in Toronto, tours extensively around the world, has released over 80 CDs and has received nine JUNO Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. Tafelmusik Media, the choir and orchestra’s multi-platform recording label, was launched in January 2012. Tafelmusik is the Baroque Orchestra-in-Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto where it hosts its annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute.  The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. The 2012/13 touring season brings Tafelmusik’s two most recent multi-media concerts, The Galileo Project and House of Dreams, to audiences across North America.