“Tafelmusik has a gift in Jeanne Lamon. Since taking over the then two-year old orchestra in 1981, she has helped build it into one of the foremost period-performance ensembles in the world.” — Toronto Star
Ms. Lamon passed away in Victoria, British Columbia, on Sunday, June 20, 2021 at age 71. Read our media release here, and find a list of tributes to Ms. Lamon here.
Music Director of Tafelmusik from 1981 to 2014, JEANNE LAMON C.M., O. Ont., D. Litt., was praised by critics in Europe and North America for her virtuosity as a violinist and her strong musical leadership. Under her direction, Tafelmusik achieved international stature and is considered “one of the world's top baroque orchestras” (Gramophone Magazine). Ms. Lamon stepped down from her role as full-time music director in 2014, ending her remarkable 33-year tenure at the helm of one of Canada’s most successful international performing arts organizations. Lamon assumed the role of Music Director Emerita and continued to work with Tafelmusik to develop the next generation of musicians.
From 2014 until her move to British Columbia in 2019, Ms. Lamon was Artistic Director of Health Arts Society of Ontario. Her role included artistic leadership of the Society's Concerts in Care program of professional music concerts for people, mainly frail elders, living in long-term care.
Ms. Lamon regularly guest directed symphony orchestras in North America and abroad. Recent engagements included Les Violons du Roy, l’Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Victoria Symphony, and Orchestra London.
Described as “a toweringly influential figure in the musical life of Canada” by the Canada Council for the Arts, Jeanne Lamon was a passionate educator who taught at the University of Toronto and as part of Tafelmusik’s various artist-training programmes. In recognition of her outstanding leadership and contribution to music education in Canada, Ms. Lamon received honorary Doctorates from York University in 1994, from Mount Saint Vincent University in the spring of 2007, and from the University of Toronto in 2014.
Jeanne Lamon was born and raised in New York State and attended Brandeis University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. She began to specialize in baroque violin in the early 1970s, studying in The Hague with Sigiswald Kuijken. From 1972 to 1981 she was engaged as concertmaster of many period orchestras, both European and North American, including Il Complesso Barocco, Boston Baroque, Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, and The Smithsonian Chamber Players of Washington, among others. In 1980, Lamon was invited to Toronto by Tafelmusik’s founders, Kenneth Solway and Susan Graves, and was appointed music director in 1981.
Ms. Lamon won numerous awards for her work with Tafelmusik, including the 1997 Joan Chalmers Award for Creativity and Excellence in the Arts, the Canada Council's prestigious Molson Prize in 1998 for her lifelong commitment to the arts and excellence in her field, the Musician of the Year Award from the Toronto Musicians’ Association for outstanding Canadian musical achievement and artistic excellence, and in 2013, that organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Lamon was the 2006 recipient of the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition, and the 2007 recipient of the Betty Webster Award for Musical Leadership. In July 2000, Lamon was appointed Member of The Order of Canada, in recognition of her exceptional achievements as a baroque violinist, teacher, and Music Director of Tafelmusik. In January 2014, she was appointed to the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest civilian honour.
Ms. Lamon moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 2019 with her partner, cellist Christina Mahler, where she continued to work as a violinist and director. She also pursued different interests, both musical and otherwise, and enjoyed spending more time outdoors in the fresh ocean air.
“Lamon's playing had a delicately contoured, high-metabolic, airborne swiftness in its intricate detail that seemed able to dispense with anything like sawing or slashing. It just flew. The beautiful central Largo movement, in contrast, was sombre and poignant.” — The Globe and Mail
“Watching Lamon play is part of the joy of a Tafelmusik concert. She is constantly in motion, partly to lead her group, partly moved by the music itself, but always full of the emotional depth of the works she is performing.” — The Globe and Mail
“The orchestra, led by Lamon from her concertmaster's chair, made the score glow and vibrate with rare warmth. Most importantly, it made the music sound as fresh as if it were created on the spot. This is music at its most powerful – a living force, not a museum piece.” — Toronto Star
“Jeanne Lamon has developed a crack ensemble which, in the main baroque and classical repertoires from Vivaldi, Telemann, Bach and Handel to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (with a few rarities to spell them off), can be counted upon to give superb, idiomatic performances.” — The Globe and Mail
“Beyond its impeccable discipline and luminous textures, the group displays an expressive sensibility that transcends the instruments, whether strung with gut or wire. That expressive empathy is most powerfully conveyed in the Adagioof the E-Major Concerto, where, over a measured tread, Jeanne Lamon spins out a radiant, sad line that might be a wordless aria from a Bach Passion.” — The New York Times
“Lamon is a true virtuoso. There are few better baroque violinists in the world today and she led the ensemble of eighteen musicians in a concert that sounded like a non-playing conductor was choreographing every move.” — Continuo
“In violinist Jeanne Lamon Tafelmusik has a leader who's first among equals, an engaging pro who knows how to put together a program of entertainment informed by a strong sense of history.” — Chicago Reader
Photo credit: Sian Richards