Tafelmusik’s new Executive Director, Carol Kehoe is an accomplished leader, arts lover, and mentor to many. We chatted with her following the announcement of her new role at Tafelmusik to learn more about her professional journey, favourite artworks, and hopes for the future of Tafelmusik.
What is the career path that brought you to Tafelmusik?
Certainly not a straight line. Doors have opened, and I’ve walked through them, mostly because of curiosity—learning new things is always exhilarating—and a determination to contribute positively to my community. At 16, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. Specifically, one who wrote columns keeping politicians honest. After graduate school and a few years in the newspaper and magazine business, I bridged from editing to managing, and spent the majority of my journalism career as a change agent, leading the development of new reader products/services. I spent my leisure time volunteering for civic groups—universities, hospitals, municipalities, arts organizations—doing lots of committee and board work. When I left my media career, I gravitated to professional arts management, and worked for a regional theatre, a regional museum and art gallery, arts councils, and finally, a regional orchestra. Along the way, I taught arts management courses at Western University, and am proud that many of my students are now successful arts managers right here in Toronto.
What is the best thing about what you do?
The absolute best thing is the satisfaction of seeing others succeed. You start out your career hungry to achieve, and it’s gratifying when you do. Somewhere in the middle, you learn that working so others can do what they do best is more rewarding. I’m grateful for the many leaders, coaches, mentors, and colleagues I’ve had to show me the way. And, I love that I’m helping the community see artists as the important creators they are. Without art—and professional artists, at that—our communities wouldn’t be as rich as they are.
What are some of your favourite works of art?
The list is long and eclectic. I am an art geek and we couldn’t fit in this space everything I’m enthralled by. When I travel, pretty much all I do is visit museums, heritage sites, and attend live performances. Following Pablo Picasso around Barcelona last year was a treat! I’m a big fan of living artists Wyn Geleynse and Aidan Urquhart, and recently started reading poetry by Hamilton’s John Terpstra. Anything Vivaldi. I like to read, and am close to finishing former Governor-General David Johnston’s Trust. Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country.
Specific artworks that will always capture my heart:
L’ete, 1959, by Jean Paul Lemieux, collection of Museum London
Cinderella, 2004, choreographed by James Kudelka, National Ballet of Canada (I was at the premiere with my daughter)
Huron Carolby Jean de Brébeuf
Margaret Lawrence’s The Stone Angel (I read this when I was 12 years old: it sparked a quest to read any and all Canadian authors: Atwood, MacGregor, Mowat, Hebert, Berton…)
Waiting for Godot, 1949, by Samuel Beckett (I saw it at Stratford Festival in 1984, and fell in love with the idea that the world was grey not black and white)
Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party and why?
Our Music Director Elisa Citterio, of course. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, American Supreme Court Justice, and Rosalie Abella, Canadian Supreme Court Justice: high achieving women who ensured that women achieved the rights they deserve. I’d love to hear them talk frankly about how our society and culture is evolving now. Horace Walpole. He was the 4th Earl of Orfor, an art historian, man of letters, antiquarian, and Whig politician. I wrote my BA Honours English and Literature thesis on how his letters reflected the times he lived in. Writers, actors, poets, painters, composers—they are recorders of history. We need them. And Meghan Markle. I am fascinated by how she’s moved her brand from “actor”to “royal”and so successfully.
What do you think the next five years hold for Tafelmusik?
What doesn’t it hold? Tafelmusik is Canada’s leading baroque orchestra, with musicians who are experts in their field. We have a gifted Music Director who understands the past, but sees the future of baroque, orchestral music for new listeners. And we’ve got a talented group of volunteers and an extraordinary staff who believe in what we’re doing. We’ll continue to do what we do best…bring fabulous music to our Canadian and international audiences.
Photo by Sandra Mulder.