May 7, 2019

Tafelmusik’s Elisa Citterio named winner of the Leonardo Award for Arts, Science, & Culture by the Italian Chamber of Commerce 2019 ICCO Air Canada Business Excellence Awards

Music Director Elisa Citterio. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Toronto, May 7, 2019 … Tafelmusik is delighted to announce that Music Director Elisa Citterio has been named the winner of the 2019 Leonardo Award for Arts, Science & Culture by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario (ICCO). Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the award honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada through their ground-breaking and innovative work in the field of arts, science, and/or culture. One of several 2019 ICCO Air Canada Business Excellence Awards granted to outstanding leaders from the business, scientific, academic, and cultural communities, the Leonardo Award will be presented to Elisa Citterio at a gala event on May 23, 2019 at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto.

“In presenting the Leonardo Award to Elisa Citterio, the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario is making a statement: Italy is a generous partner to Canada, not only in business and trade, but also in culture and art. Elisa represents the excellence that comes from Italy and as a musician she brings a deep knowledge of baroque music, an engaging stage persona, and incredible virtuosity to Canada,” said Corrado Paina, Executive Director of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario. “I am proud that Canada has embraced this outstanding artist with open arms. Elisa Citterio has contributed greatly to strengthening the relationships between the two countries.”

“It is an incredible honour to receive the 2019 Leonardo Da Vinci Award. I would like to thank the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario for this generous recognition,” said Elisa Citterio. “Since beginning my journey as Music Director of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, it has been a source of great pride and joy to share the creative ingenuity, virtuosity, and artistry of Italian composers and musicians with my new family here in Toronto and with audiences across Canada. At the same time, I have drawn so much inspiration from the incredibly rich, diverse cultural landscape of this city. I'm fascinated by the possibility of exchange between Canada and Italy, which are geographically distant, but which music unites through a shared language.”

Since 2017, Citterio has invited several Italian period musicians to perform with Tafelmusik for the first time, including Stefano Demicheli, harpsichord; Roberta Invernizzi, soprano; Enrico Onofri, violin; and Vittorio Ghielmi, viola da gamba. She has championed music by composers from her homeland, and in September 2019, Citterio’s first recording with Tafelmusik, Vivaldi con amore, will be released worldwide on the Tafelmusik Media label.

In addition to paying homage to her Italian roots, Citterio has wholeheartedly embraced the richness of Canada’s cultural diversity. Tafelmusik’s signature multimedia programs created by Alison Mackay have provided opportunities for collaboration between Citterio and artists and musicians from a range of non-Western traditions, including Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion (Iran), Trichy and Suba Sankaran, percussion, voice (India), Maryem Tollar, voice and qanun (Egypt), and Diely Mori Toukara, kora (Mali).

“In September 2017, Tafelmusik heralded the start of a new era under Elisa Citterio. Renowned for her stunning virtuoso performances on baroque violin and her innovative approach to period performance, Elisa has made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada in just two years,” said Tafelmusik’s Executive Director Carol Kehoe. “Her presence has greatly enhanced North America’s most active and innovative period orchestra, while introducing Canadians to the richness and depth of Italian cuture. We couldn’t be prouder of Elisa and warmly congratulate her on winning the Leonardo Award.”

Among Citterio’s significant achievements are several programming innovations for the 2019/20 season, including Tafelmusik’s first-ever performances of the music of the late Romantic Russian composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which will extend the orchestra’s repertoire into an era where few period instrument ensembles have gone before. Citterio is also creating a new orchestral arrangement of Bach’s keyboard masterpiece, The Goldberg Variations, which will be premiered in Toronto in 2020.

Citterio has programmed six world premieres by living composers — unprecedented in Tafelmusik’s history for the number of new works debuted in a single season. Four Canadian and two Italian composers have been commissioned to create new pieces, to be performed in three venues across the GTA.

Citterio has led Tafelmusik on several high-profile national and international tours to Eastern Canada, Western Canada, the United States, and Australia, and to France with Opera Atelier. In November 2019, she will lead Tafelmusik’s Love & Betrayal tour, featuring the renowned Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin, to the UK and Belgium.

Citterio’s growing international reputation as a leader and violinist has prompted her American symphonic debut in 2020 leading the Seattle Symphony in a program of Italian music. In June 2019, she performs at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris as concertmaster for a production of Gluck’s Iphigénie et Tauride directed by Robert Carsen.

Citterio is also active in educating the next generation of period musicians in professional training programs offered through Tafelmusik Baroque Summer and Winter Institutes. These comprehensive programs attract 100 pre-professional and professional musicians from some 15 different countries each year and are a key component of Tafelmusik’s mandate to be a global leader in period performance.


The brilliant violinist Elisa Citterio joined Tafelmusik as Music Director in 2017. She moved to Toronto from her native Italy, where she divided her artistic life between orchestral work and an intense schedule as a chamber musician. She has recorded and toured, often as leader or concertmaster, with such ensembles as Dolce & Tempesta, Europa Galante, Accademia Bizantina, Accordone, Zefiro, la Venexiana, La Risonanza, Ensemble 415, Concerto Italiano, Orquestra del Monsalvat, Il Giardino Armonico, and Orchestra Academia 1750. Since 2004 she was a member of the Orchestra del Teatro della Scala di Milano.

Elisa was born in Brescia, Italy, and grew up in a musical family: including her composer mother and brother, and sisters who are professional musicians. Elisa began playing piano and violin as a pre-schooler, and as a teenager played baroque sonatas with her mother and sister.  At eleven she began formal studies in violin at the L. Marenzio Conservatory in Brescia, winning many prizes in national competitions and graduating in violin and viola with highest honours. She continued her post-graduate studies with Franco Gulli, Corrado Romano, Dora Schwarzberg, Matis Vaitsner, Ilya Grubert, and Dejan Bogdanovich.

In 2000, Elisa was selected as concertmaster and soloist with the orchestra of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, where she received intensive professional training in orchestral and chamber music repertoire, as well as violin technique. Soon after graduating, she began studying baroque violin, taking part in masterclasses with Enrico Onofri, and studying with Chiara Banchini at the Schola Cantorum Basilensis, and with Luigi Mangiocavallo in Rome.

Elisa Citterio’s discography includes more than 35 recordings with Accademia I Filarmonici (Vivaldi), Europa Galante (Vivaldi and Bach), Zefiro (Handel), Accordone (Storie di Napoli), Brixia Musicalis (Vivaldi Four Seasons), Accademia Bizantina (Handel and Corelli), Il Giardino Armonico (Handel and Haydn), La Venexiana (Monteverdi), Joachim Quartet (Schuster), Helianthus Ensemble (C.P.E. Bach trios), and a number of opera recordings with the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala under such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly, Edward Gardner, Daniele Gatti, Daniel Harding, Lorin Maazel, and Riccardo Muti.

Elisa played with Stefano Montanari in Estravagante Ensemble, and from 2014–2016 worked alongside Stefano as co-chair of the baroque violin studies program at the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado in Milan.


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 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, KPMG, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Whitmer Trudel Charitable Foundation, The Estate of Lawrence Ballon, Tom Bogart & Kathy Tamaki, The Pluralism Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Classical 96.3 FM, NOW Magazine, and Wholenote Magazine. Tafelmusik is a proud partner of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.


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