Oct 31, 2017

Tafelmusik’s Annual General Meeting: 2016/17 Season Sets the Stage for an Inspiring Future

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Appointment of Elisa Citterio as Music Director, 17th Consecutive
Surplus Budget, and Record Breaking Year in Annual Giving and Artist Training

Toronto, Canada, October 31, 2017 … At Tafelmusik’s Annual General Meeting on October 30, 2017, Board of Directors Chair Helen Polatajko, Treasurer Victor D'Souza, and Managing Director William Norris reported on an extraordinary season that saw the appointment of the “superb” (The Guardian) Italian violinist Elisa Citterio as the orchestra’s new Music Director.The organization reported its 17th consecutive surplus budget for the 2016/17 season, one in which Tafelmusik boosted its stature as a global leader in period performance thanks toconcerts presented in eleven different venues across the GTA,national and international tours, annual artist training initiatives which attracted a record number of applicants worldwide, a new multimedia concert creation by Alison Mackay, the release of two recordings, and flourishing audience outreach initiatives.


Elisa Citterio succeeds Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon as only the second music director in Tafelmusik’s 39-year history. Following the announcement of her appointment in January 2017, Citterio returned to co-direct the season grand finale in May with Tafelmusik Chamber Choir Director Ivars Taurins, leading “a very stylish, sophisticated performance” (The Globe and Mail) of Haydn’s Symphony No. 98. Hundreds of Koerner Hall audience members were also treated to an intimate pre-concert Q&A session with Citterio, moderated by writer and broadcaster Robert Harris.

“I know I speak for all of us here at Tafelmusik when I say that we are thrilled with our choice of Elisa. She is without question the right person to take over the artistic leadership from Jeanne Lamon and to spearhead the next phase of the orchestras artistic development,” said Mr. Norris.

Ms. Polatajko acknowledged the work of musicians Alison Mackay, Dominic Teresi, and Julia Wedman, who formed the Interim Artistic Advisory Committee during the transition period prior to the arrival of Elisa Citterio, and thanked them along with the Music Director Search Committee led by Andy Kenins, and search firm Genovese Vanderhoof and Associates.

Tafelmusik achieved a record-breaking year in annual giving, thanks to the generosity of more than 1,000 members and donors. Individuals contributed more than $975,000 — a 63% increase over the previous record set during the 2015/16 season. Tafelmusik also welcomed three new corporate sponsors last season: iA Securities, Blakes and Stikeman Elliott.

Numbers for Tafelmusik’s large and loyal subscription audience held steady in 2016/17, the fourth and final year of the orchestra’s exhaustive Music Director search, while at the same time the organization reached out to new audiences with initiatives such as daytime chamber music concerts and the immersive Haus Musik series.

Treasurer Victor D'Souza said, “Tafelmusik’s long standing tradition of wise financial management continued in 2016/17. Tafelmusik’s 17th successive surplus, this year of $7,123, is aresult that is particularly notable in a season when several large projects, such as our recording of Tales of Two Cities and the implementation of our new box office and database system, Tessitura, occurred.”


Visions and Voyages: Canada 1663-1763

Marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Tafelmusik double-bassistAlison Mackay's latest multimedia program brought a century of Canadian history to life, creating the kind of immersive concert experience for which Tafelmusik is world-renowned. Collaborating closely with two First Nations artists, narrator and former Artistic Director of Native Earth Theatre Company, Ryan Cunningham, and dancer and choreographer Brian Solomon, Mackay took an unflinching look at a century that saw the establishment and subsequent abandonment of Aboriginal treaty rights. Visions and Voyages premiered at Jeanne Lamon Hall in February to enthralled audiences, who described the program as “remarkable,” “sublime,” “outstanding,” and “particularly poignant.” A touring version was later seen in London, Hamilton, Midland, and Port Perry.  

Tafelmusik Chamber Choir at 35

Under the direction ofIvars Taurins since its formation in 1981, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir celebrated its 35th anniversary throughout the 2016/17 season, starting with Let Us All Sing in November, Messiah and the 30th anniversary performance of Sing-Along Messiah in December, and A Bach Tapestry in February. They concluded this landmark season in May with powerful performances of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, which drew rave reviews from critics including Robert Harris, who wrote, “I heard in the Mozart aspects of the choir new to me. I heard raw, explosive, almost shocking power at times, deeply lyrical moments, a great sense of play, a total package of choral presentation that still maintained the choir's trademark clarity, suppleness and sound.” (The Globe and Mail)

 Engaging Audiences Across the GTA

Audiences responded enthusiastically to a wide range of concerts tailored for different types of repertoire and experiences presented in eleven different venues across the GTA. In addition to mainstage concerts at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Koerner Hall, Massey Hall, and George Weston Recital Hall, 2016/17 saw three Haus Musik events at The Great Hall and the debut, sold-out season of the Close Encounters chamber music series at Temerty Theatre and Heliconian Hall. A free lunch-hour performance at the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre drew the series’ largest audience to date, and five free Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute concerts at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music’s Walter Hall, Grace Church-on-the-Hill, and Jeanne Lamon Hall were also well attended.

A special performance of Alison Mackay’s “powerful” (The Globe and Mail) and “flawless” (Musical Toronto) multimedia creation Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House at the Aga Khan Museum was recorded before a live audience for its November 17 release on DVD and CD through Tafelmusik Media.

The first full season of Haus Musik, Tafelmusik’s “fresh and fearless … shiny and new” (The Wholenote) experimental performance concept, was launched over three events at The Great Hall on Queen West, with 65% of the audiences averaging under age 35. Haus Musik offers a dynamic platform for collaboration between Tafelmusik and exciting young artists.   

Tafelmusik was the first professional orchestra to embark on Opus: Testing |Period Piece in collaboration with Musica Reflecta and the Canadian Music Centre. Opus: Testing featured new compositions by eight emerging composers for a quartet of Tafelmusik musicians, and culminated with a public workshop in March. Other contemporary music forays included the world premiere of Entwined: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th, a new work by Colin Labadie.

For the first time in Tafelmusik’s history, free pre-concert chats were made public to all ticket holders, and a new Listening Club, with broadcaster and musicologist Dr. Hannah French and Ivars Taurins, was piloted in April. The Listening Club aims to stimulate animated discussion about specific music selections, and rolls out during the current season.


Under the guidance of Artistic CoordinatorCharlotte Nediger and Directors Jeanne Lamon and Ivars Taurins, Tafelmusik’s flagship artist training workshop, the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, attracted a record number of applications and welcomed 100 musician participants from fifteen countries around the world. Together with the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, Guest Artist Masterclasses, and Baroque Mentors residencies, Tafelmusik is well positioned to develop and inspire the next generation of period musicians. 


In 2016/17 Canada’s busiest touring orchestra spent more than six weeks on the road, with two of Alison Mackay’s multimedia creations performed in four different countries.

In November, Mandarin and Korean versions of J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation travelled to China and Korea. Premiered in Toronto in May 2015, the fully-memorized program also travelled to eight American cities in February and March, and was performed for a sold-out house at the National Arts Centre’s Canada Scene Festival in Ottawa last June.

In March the orchestra brought a touring version of Visions and Voyages to London, Hamilton, Midland, and Port Perry with evening performances complemented by school versions in each location.

In May Tafelmusik returned to the Royal Palace of Versailles with long-time collaborator Opera Atelier for performances of Charpentier's Medea with Elisa Citterio as concertmaster. Several Tafelmusik musicians joined singers Mireille Asselin and Jesse Blumberg and artists of Atelier Ballet for a performance in the Royal Chapel at Versailles.


September 2016 marked an important milestone in Tafelmusik’s history, with the release of its recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the Tafelmusik Media label, thereby completing its cycle of recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies. Recorded live in concert at Koerner Hall under the direction of Bruno Weil, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was nominated for a 2017 JUNO Award and has been streamed online an impressive 195,000 times last season.

In February, Tafelmusik reissued its award-winning film Le Mozart Noir, about the Black eighteenth-century violinist and composer Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Released as a CD/DVD package, Le Mozart Noir was launched at a free screening presented in collaboration with Toronto Black Film Festival.


Led by Music Director Elisa Citterio, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir is one of the world’s leading period ensembles and Canada’s most-toured orchestra. Tafelmusik engages Toronto audiences with an annual season of more than 80 concerts in diverse venues across the city, as well as national and international audiences through an extensive schedule of tours and critically acclaimed recordings. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. Tafelmusik also seeks to transport audiences to the baroque and classical periods through adventurous cross-cultural collaborations, on stage with Toronto's Opera Atelier, and underground at its new Haus Musik series. The orchestra’s musicians share their knowledge and experience through artist training initiatives such as the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer and Winter Institutes. Tafelmusik's catalogue of award-winning recordings on the SONY, CBC Records, Analekta, and Tafelmusik Media labels have garnered nine JUNO Awards and numerous other recording prizes. Jeanne Lamon continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita.


Tafelmusik wishes to thank the following for their generous support: BMO Financial Group, TD Bank Group, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation, KPMG, Great West Life, London Life, Canada Life, McLean Foundation, Blakes LLP, iA Securities, Stikeman Elliott LLP, John and Margaret Catto, Margaret and Jim Fleck, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Classical 96.3 FM, and NOW Magazine. Tafelmusik is a proud partner of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.

Media contact:
Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications, (416) 456-0499 |ltrisi@sympatico.ca
427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X7

High‐resolution photos are available for download here.