Photo: Bruce Zinger
by Alison Mackay
The first Toronto performances in early 2016 of Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House coincided with the arrival of many newcomers to Canada fleeing from their homeland in Syria. Escaping terrible conflict, they brought with them a rich cultural inheritance which over the centuries had exerted a strong influence on the artistic life of Europe. In a week's time we will be sharing our exploration of the meeting places of eighteenth-century European and Syrian music, literature, and art with our neighbours to the south in a US tour which concludes in Frank Gehry's magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. We are grateful for the opportunity to launch our journey with a remounting of the program in Koerner Hall for our audiences in Toronto.
For centuries, both coffee and music have been celebrated for their stimulating properties and their restorative powers. The development of the coffee house in the cities of the Middle East and Europe offered citizens the opportunity to experience fine music making and coffee drinking at the same time. This was particularly true in the German city of Leipzig and the Syrian capital of Damascus in the eighteenth century.Read Full Story