May 21, 2019

Tomorrow's Talented Artists

Violinist Cristina Zacharias teaching during the 2011 Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. Photo by Gary Beechey.
Violinist Cristina Zacharias teaching in Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute.

Canadian violinist Cristina Zacharias has been a core member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra since 2004. She participated in Tafelmusik’s annual Summer Institute in 2002. Cristina shares how Tafelmusik’s artist training programs helped her flourish early in her journey as a musician and shaped her whole career.

By Cristina Zacharias, violin

Violinist Cristina Zacharias. Photo by Sian Richards.I love teaching at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI) each year because it connects me to the initial spark I felt when I discovered the magic of period performance. I am now a long-time faculty member, but I remember attending the first ever Institute as a student soon after I moved to Toronto. What an experience it was! It opened a wide, new path for me, and eventually brought me to the Tafelmusik stage to perform for you. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to study at TBSI with such an amazing faculty.

For this year’s summer institute, we have 90 participants ready to go! Musicians will be joining us from all over Canada and from different countries around the world. I can assure you that such comprehensive and immersive artist-training opportunities like this are rare and that is why we have so many applicants from far and wide.

Over the last 18 years, TBSI has created an international network of historically informed, talented musicians. We’re grateful that the connections made at the institute last a very long time. In addition to myself, Julia Wedman, and Brandon Chui — all of us in the Tafelmusik core orchestra who have come through our artist-training programs — you have perhaps unknowingly heard many other TBSI graduates on our stages.

Looking back through my Tafelmusik calendar for the last few months, it’s not at all hard to find moments when past TBSI participants joined us on stage.

Regular concert-goers will easily recognize Michelle Odorico (violin) and Matthew Antal (viola), both of whom play regularly with us as extra musicians. Both Michelle and Matt’s journeys into the specialized world of historical performance began at TBSI, when they discovered a style and a musical language that compelled them to pursue further advanced studies with Tafelmusik teachers.

Tafelmusik’s program devoted to the music of Steffani this past November featured Victoria Marshall as a soloist alongside Krisztina Szabo. Victoria’s sparkly personality shone at TBSI in 2015, and it has been amazing to hear her sing with the choir.

Participants of the 2018 Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute performing at the Baroque Summer Festival in Walter Hall. Photo by Jeremy Chan.
Participants of the 2018 Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute performing at the Baroque Summer Festival in Walter Hall

As you know, TBSI is a huge part of our ‘home-grown’ talent pool, but there are also many students who come to Toronto from long distances, and those relationships continue as well, in a very different way. When Tafelmusik goes on tour, we see TBSI alumni at almost every concert. These former students frequently invite us into their musical communities. Our “down time” while touring usually includes giving lessons, masterclasses or coaching orchestras in the local universities and conservatories.

Cristina Zacharias


If you are interested in making a gift to support TBSI and our other artist training programs, please click here. Your gift will help young performers deepen their understanding of the art of period performance.

See this season's participants perform in our annual Summer Festival. Click here for concert details.

Image credits:
Cristina teaching by Gary Beechey.
Cristina's headshot by Sian Richards.
Concert at Walter Hall by Jeremy Chan.

Summer Institute
Artist Training
Cristina Zacharias