Jan 28, 2013

A New Era Begins: Tafelmusik Announces Venue Revitalization Project

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Toronto (Canada), January 28, 2013 … Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir has announced an ambitious $3 million project to revitalize its home performance venue since 1981, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.  The two-phase project is being undertaken in partnership with long-time collaborators Trinity-St. Paul’s and the Toronto Consort. The impressive revitalization project has been launched with a pledge of up to $500,000 in matching funds from Heritage Canada, and will help usher in Tafelmusik’s vision of becoming a global centre of excellence in period performance. Tafelmusik’s deep roots in the Annex community are anchored in Trinity St. Paul's, a community hub that has a long tradition of arts, community care and enrichment of its local and extended neighborhood. With this initiative, Tafelmusik has taken on a leadership role on behalf of the many diverse users of this facility, and has demonstrated a commitment towards strengthening the bonds between its loyal audience, Trinity-St. Paul’s and the community it serves. This renovation will be the latest in a series of initiatives along Toronto’s Bloor Street Cultural Corridor, including the Gardiner Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

Tafelmusik has engaged an internationally acclaimed acoustic and design team to realize this project:  E.R.A. Architects Inc., led by Principal-in-Charge Edwin Rowse, specialists in heritage buildings whose past projects have included Toronto’s Distillery District and Maple Leaf Gardens; renowned London-based acoustician Bob Essert of Sound Space Design, who has consulted on acoustics for The Four Seasons Centre, Koerner Hall and Montreal’s Maison symphonique; and Anne Minors of Anne Minors Performance Consultants, whose high-profile projects include Wigmore Hall, Gergiev Cultural Centre and Koerner Hall. Detailed information on Tafelmusik’s Venue Revitalization Project including a brochure and high-resolution renderings is available at Tafelmusik.org.

A major fundraising campaign has been launched to renew Tafelmusik’s long-term home venue of Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, and was kick-started by a contribution of up to $500,000 in matching funds from Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Spaces Canada programme. The Revitalization Project is the biggest investment Tafelmusik has ever made in the growth and development of the organization, and for its sister arts organizations who also cherish Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre as their home. Tafelmusik’s $3 million revitalization campaign will ensure a strong future for the orchestra and choir by funding a permanent venue that is financially sustainable.
“For years we have dreamed of transforming the acoustics of our venue at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre so that our loyal audience can hear the wonderful sound of Tafelmusik the same way international audiences hear us in the best concert halls in the world,” says Tafelmusik Music Director Jeanne Lamon. “The hall we perform in is like the instrument for the entire orchestra and choir, and if we improve that instrument, we dramatically improve the experience for our audience and our musicians.”

Phase One: Transforming the concert experience

Phase One of the Revitalization Project will take place in 2013, and will see major acoustic enhancements as well as significant physical improvements to the hall as follows:

• Improving the Acoustics: Acoustical renovations will dramatically improve the sound of the hall and ensure that audiences can hear Tafelmusik in an acoustic environment of the highest standard. Worn carpets will be removed, and flooring will be refurbished to give a bloom to the sound and enhance the bass frequencies. Acoustical wooden slats will be added to the walls of the orchestra level to disperse the sound and to bring out upper frequencies. Instead of the current plywood, a permanent stage will be acoustically designed using a type of wood that enhances and disperses the sound.
• Improving Audience Comfort and Sightlines: Completely new seating on the main floor and restored pews in the balcony will greatly enhance audience comfort. Balcony seating and stage height will provide better sightlines for patrons on the balcony sides. This will be done while respecting the communal nature of this sacred space.
• Installing a Permanent and Safer Stage: An acoustically designed permanent and expanded new stage will enable Tafelmusik to undertake creative new programming, mount larger orchestral, choral and multimedia programs, and expand educational training and outreach initiatives.
• Improving Accessibility: Additional wheelchair seating and improved accessibility will ensure that everyone is able to enjoy the improved performance hall.
• Improving the Aesthetics: Enhancements to the overall beauty of the space will make for a more enjoyable concert environment while preserving the heritage elements of Trinity-St. Paul’s.

Phase Two is scheduled to begin in 2014 and 2015, and will focus on the restoration and enhancement of other spaces in Trinity-St. Paul’s. The staircase, lobby and upper lobby spaces will be renovated, while preserving the historic characteristics of this 125 year-old building. Significant new accessibility improvements will be made, including increased wheelchair accessibility from the lobby area, and the installation of an elevator. A new coat check area will be created and the Box Office area will be refurbished; lighting, sound and multimedia equipment will be upgraded.  

Managing Director Tricia Baldwin stated, “The improvement of Tafelmusik’s venue is the number one priority for the next three years, and is the most important aspect of our strategic plan. Tafelmusik’s home in Toronto, where we perform some 50 concerts a year, is an integral part of our sound, our spirit and our identity. Improving our home venue will in a very concrete way assure our viability into the future.”

Board Chair Andy Kenins said, “With the generous support of our audience for this capital campaign, Tafelmusik will be able to present the excellence of the orchestra and choir in a beautifully renovated historic venue with magnificent acoustics. The result will be an exceptional home for a world-class orchestra and chamber choir that will celebrate the past and invest in the future.”

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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.