Jan 15, 2021

A View Of Tafelmusik From An Artist’s Sketchbook

Barry Slater - Tafelmusik performing Mozart in Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 2003
Tafelmusik performing Mozart in Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 2003. Credit: Barry Slater.

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Barry Slater, a long-time Tafelmusik subscriber, was reorganizing his studio during this time away from us and the concert hall. Slater reached out to us to share some drawings he discovered while cleaning up. These images were made over a decade ago while attending our concerts from his seat in Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. With Slater's permission, we are thrilled to share his drawings as we reminisce over our time performing on stage in front of you all, our friends and fans. We also wanted to learn more about the artist, so please enjoy this short Q&A with Slater as you browse his images below.

Tafelmusik: Tell us a little about yourself.

Barry Slater: I was born in New York City in 1949. My mother was a graduate of Cooper Union, and painted small still lifes in oils, and pen and ink. My father was a salesman with the wisdom of Solomon, and supplied the music after dinner: he sat reading the daily newspaper, smoking a big cigar, while listening to the classics.

Tafelmusik tuning
Tuning begins. Credit: Barry Slater.

TM: How and when did you start drawing?

BS: During my travels avoiding the Vietnam War, I kept a sketch diary, rendering scenes, stories, and poems. I maintained this habit through U. C. Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, courtship, and marriage. We moved to Toronto in 1977, raised two kids, divorced … to this day I carry a sketchbook when I leave home, a rare occasion now.

TM: What other art forms do you practise?

BS: I play any musical instrument I can get my hands on as well as I can. My garden is a thing of beauty, and I love to cook. I am also busy writing.

Barry Slate - Charlotte Nediger, harpsichord, and Alison Mackay, double bass
Charlotte Nediger, harpsichord, and Alison Mackay, double bass. Credit: Barry Slater.

TM: What inspired you to draw Tafelmusik concerts? Did you come prepared for the first one or was it a spur-of-the-moment decision?

BS: As with much in life, the accidental, whom you meet, your friends, all determine where you are at any time — and in this case I had met a charming woman who took me to hear Mozart in this amazing old church on Bloor Street for my birthday. This lovely lady married another, but I have maintained faithfully my attendance at one of my favourite musical venues where genius is available.

Barry Slater - Bassoon, violin, harpsichord
Malcolm Bilson & Mozart. Credit: Barry Slater.

TM: What do you miss most at this time when you’re not able to attend a Tafelmusik concert?

BS: Luckily I hear and feel the sounds made. Moved by such in a visual environment, I become one with some cosmic reality, perfectly ineffable. While at home these last few months has allowed me to focus on and rediscover my past experiences, I sorely miss the freedom to wander, listening for that sound.

TM: What is your most memorable Tafelmusik concert and why?

BS: Allison Mackay’s The Galileo Project broke through that fourth wall that confines the ordinary, opening a new realm of expression, the depth of which has always been of primary interest to me. Unforgettable.

Barry Slater - Opening night of a Tafelmusik concert, 1989
Opening night of a Tafelmusik concert, 1989. Credit: Barry Slater.

Tafelmusik Together
Trinity-St. Paul`s Centre
Charlotte Nediger
Alison Mackay