Jun 29, 2018

Tafelmusik’s Record-Breaking Season with Elisa Citterio as Music Director

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"Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is a testament to what hard work and dedication to art and scholarship can do over time. This is a world-class period instrument ensemble … the playing
is superb.”
— Ludwig van Toronto

Toronto, Canada, June 28, 2018 … Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir has just wrapped up a banner season under its new Music Director, the“breathtakingly stunning”Italian violinist Elisa Citterio (Toronto Concert Reviews). In 2017/18, North America’s most active and innovative period orchestra boosted its stature as a global leader in period performance thanks to wide-ranging activities in the areas of live concerts, national and international touring, recording, and artist training. Audiences across the GTA responded enthusiastically to Tafelmusik’s offerings, and robust box office earnings boasted the second-highest number of single tickets sold in the orchestra’s history and the highest subscription revenue in five years. Subscriptions are currently on sale for Tafelmusik’s 40th anniversary in 2018/19, and single tickets will be available starting August 14.

“As my first season as Music Director of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra comes to a close, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished together. After ten months, three tours, two weeks of artist training, and 36 concerts with Tafelmusik, I feel like I am part of a big, warm, family. I am especially touched by all the kind words and the incredibly warm reception I’ve received from our audiences in Toronto, and on tour in the Eastern provinces of Canada and across Australia. Music is a gift that offers each listener a unique emotional experience, and it’s been my privilege to share this with our musicians and audiences,” said Elisa Citterio.


“All the terrific characteristics of the Tafelmusik Orchestra are well in hand under Elisa Citterio’s lead, namely the players’ evident engagement with the music and with one another, plus their infectious enjoyment in playing … The four-year process looking for a new music director certainly seems to be a success.”—Concertonet.com

Last September Tafelmusik heralded the start of a new era under Elisa Citterio, the orchestra’s second Music Director in its 39-year history. Renowned for her stunning virtuoso performances on baroque violin and her innovative approach to period performance, Citterio made her Tafelmusik season debut directing concerts in three different GTA venues. A gala season opener at Koerner Hall and Toronto Centre for the Arts “created edge-of-the-seat excitement and was greeted with shrieks of delight” (Concertonet.com).

In a nod to her Italian roots, Citterio was featured as violin soloist in movements from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons that were peppered throughout the season. She was “nothing short of dazzling in her solo work in the “Winter” movement ... as crisp and bracing as a sunny January morning in Toronto” (Toronto Star).

Citterio was warmly welcomed by members of the GTA’s Italian community, with extensive coverage from Italian cultural organizations and media outlets including the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto, Corriere Canadese, Panoram Italia, L’ape musicale, OMNI TV, and Insieme TV. She was the guest speaker at Salone 2018 Beyond Bella, and the guest of honour at a reception at the Columbus Centre.

For her debut as Music Director in Tafelmusik’s home venue of Jeanne Lamon Hall, Citterio took audiences on a guided tour of the fresh, vibrant, and innovative music by pioneering Italian baroque composers. “As a soloist, Citterio was clearly in her element, and besides tossing off the concerto with ease, is prepared to have some fun with it on stage … she showed she can be a soloist with technical prowess and sensitivity, play chamber music and direct a continuo band, and lead a full orchestra in difficult repertoire” (Ludwig van Toronto).

Members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra were deeply honoured to perform at the October 2, 2017 swearing-in of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette to the office of Governor General of Canada. Elisa Citterio and Patricia Ahern, violins; Patrick G. Jordan, viola; and Margaret Gay, cello played the Allegro movement from Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major, K. 136, which was televised nationally as part of the investiture ceremony.

Outgoing Managing Director William Norris said, “This has been an incredibly exciting and important year for Tafelmusik with the debut of Elisa Citterio as Music Director. Following an intense three-year search involving a number of guest directors, it has been wonderful for the orchestra to work consistently with a musician of her outstanding caliber. The fact she is already shaping and molding the orchestra’s sound is something remarked upon repeatedly by many audience members. The standout high of 2017/18 has to be Elisa’s renditions of the Beethoven Violin Concerto – performances that were fresh, original and truly compelling. We are all so thrilled to have Elisa at Tafelmusik and look forward to next season—the first programmed by her—with great anticipation.”


Safe Haven

“Tafelmusik Orchestra has emerged in recent years as not just a purveyor of good concerts, but a weaver of fascinating stories that edify and educate as well as entertain.” —Ludwig Van Toronto

In 2017/18, Tafelmusik continued to push the boundaries of classical music concerts with its spectacular multimedia productions created by double bassist Alison Mackay. Her latest, Safe Haven, is a “highly effective and tightly-woven tapestry of words, music and art” (The Wholenote) that explores the influence of refugee populations on the culture of their adopted countries, and taps into Mackay’s uncanny ability to examine the parallels between 18th-century Europe and the issues currently facing our world. Mackay and her creative team employed scripted text, lighting designed by Glenn Davidson, and stunning projections designed by Raha Javanfar to create the kind of immersive concert experience for which Tafelmusik is world renowned.

“Each of the three guests [Diely Mori Toukara, kora, Maryem Tollar, voice and narration, and Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion], had a chance to show off their instruments and talents in solo pieces. Then they joined the orchestra in an improvisatory way to create an enchanting hybrid sound. It was the best kind of cultural fusion at work, right before our eyes. That is the very essence of what cultural life in Toronto should look like at the beginning of the 21st century” (Ludwig Van Toronto).

Kristian Bezuidenhout

“I would have happily sat in my crammed seat surrounded by other people's winter coats for two or more solo encores ... Bezuidenhout is becoming one of those soloists whom it's not wise to miss.” — Definitely the Opera

Following his 2013 Tafelmusik debut, virtuoso fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout returned to Jeanne Lamon Hall in November to direct the orchestra in Mozart’s Piano. Known as “the finest living exponent of the fortepiano” (The Herald), Bezuidenhout brought Mozart’s fortepiano to life in a program of 18th-century keyboard gems and orchestral works.

Alexander’s Feast

“The music positively glowed. The invited soloists were as good as anyone could ever hope for, and the choir and augmented orchestra were at their very best.” — Toronto Star

In February, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir led by Ivars Taurins gave its debut performances of Alexander’s Feast, Handel’s dramatic and colourful ode to the power of music, at Koerner Hall. The performances featured guest soloists Amanda Forsythe, soprano; Thomas Hobbs, tenor; Alexander Dobson, baritone; and Julia Seager-Scott, harp.

Bach B-Minor Mass

“The fine shaping of this complex music at his [Taurins’] hands was awe-inspiring … one of the great choral presentations of the season in Toronto.”  — Toronto Star

Tafelmusik Chamber Choir under Ivars Taurins was also front and centre in Bach’s profound and transcendent B-Minor Mass. A stellar cast of soloists including Dorothee Mields, soprano; Laura Pudwell, mezzo-soprano; Charles Daniels, tenor; and Tyler Duncan, baritone, joined the choir and orchestra for five performances at Jeanne Lamon Hall and George Weston Recital Hall — concerts that broke previous Tafelmusik single ticket sales records in both venues.

All-Beethoven Season Finale

“Citterio in particular added an indefinable element of soul and serenity ... she revealed a vital engagement with the music that was anything but dry ... she scanned the soaring phrases with sensitivity to harmonic underpinnings.” —The Wholenote

The 2017/18 subscription season wrapped up at Koerner Hall with a remarkable all-Beethoven program that brought together long-time Tafelmusik collaborator Bruno Weil as conductor, Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon as concertmaster, and Music Director Elisa Citterio as violin soloist. Weil conducted the orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral.” The thrilling culmination of this program featured Elisa Citterio’s much anticipated solo performance in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, “a work that requires not only considerable virtuosity, but also extraordinary physical energy — both gifts that Citterio possesses in abundance” (translated from L’ape musicale).

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, 2017/18 saw three Haus Musik events at Longboat Hall and the second season of the Close Encounters chamber music series at Temerty Theatre and Heliconian Hall. Tafelmusik presented a total of eight free concerts across the GTA, including a lunch-hour performance at the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, a TTC rush-hour concert at Spadina Station, and five 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.

The second season of Haus Musik, Tafelmusik’s “experimental offshoot” (The Globe and Mail) offered a dynamic platform for collaboration between Tafelmusik and exciting young artists from Toronto’s emerging indie opera scene and beyond, including directors Jennifer Nichols, Anna Theodosakis (MYOpera), and Amanda Smith (FAWN Chamber Creative); electronic artists and DJs Andycapp, Noble Oak, andACOTE; actorAlly Smither; dancers Jack Rennie and Renee Killough; filmmaker Patrick Hagarty; lighting designers Wesley McKenzie andNoah Feaver; and set designer James Bolton, among others.

As part of Tafelmusik’s dedication to reaching audiences of all ages, a quartet visited the Seven Oaks long-term care home in Scarborough in early February. This performance was part of a series curated by the Health Arts Society of Ontario, whose Artistic Director is Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon.


J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation

“Music director Elisa Citterio set a musical tone of joyful liveliness ... with rhythmically crisp, scrupulously articulated playing, rich tonal hues and bright colours.” — Sydney Morning Herald

In 2017/18 Canada’s busiest touring orchestra spent five weeks on the road touring Alison Mackay’s “superb” (San Diego Tribune) multimedia creation J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation, which was also remounted in Toronto for four performances. Since its premiere in May 2015, J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation has been seen in 25 cities around the world, with scripts performed in four different languages: English, French, Mandarin, and Korean.

Elisa Citterio made her Tafelmusik national touring debut in November, leading the orchestra for six performances of J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation in Québec, New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia. Last month, Tafelmusik and Citterio were welcomed to Australia with standing ovations and rave reviews for their performances in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Sydney. “Led by Citterio, the performance was spirited and flawless … visually sumptuous and musically stunning, this was another outstanding production from Tafelmusik” (Sounds Like Sydney).


In September Tafelmusik presented its “stimulating and thought-provoking” (The Wholenote) recordings of the complete Beethoven symphonies, a total of six CDs packaged in a striking box set. Recorded in Toronto under the direction of guest conductor Bruno Weil between 2004 and 2016, Tafelmusik’s Beethoven cycle is the first by a North American recorded on period instruments. These performances chart Tafelmusik’s evolution as it expanded its repertoire to explore the music of classical and early romantic composers. A “fitting monument to the orchestra’s first three decades” (The Wholenote), the complete Beethoven symphonies box set is available on CD on the Tafelmusik Media label and via digital download from Analekta.

In November Tafelmusik released its “beautifully realized and enormously inspiring” (Ludwig van Toronto) Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House on CD and DVD, with Syrian subtitles. Conceived, programmed, and scripted by Alison Mackay and inspired by the opulent world of 18th-century Saxon and Syrian coffee houses, Tales of Two Cities features guest ensemble Trio Arabica and is performed entirely from memory by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra with narration by actor Alon Nashman. The immersive multimedia program was filmed before a live audience at the Aga Khan Museum in December 2016, and will be remounted in 2019 for performances in Toronto, Ottawa, and seven cities in the US including Los Angeles.


Under the guidance of Artistic Coordinator Charlotte Nediger and Directors Jeanne Lamon, Elisa Citterio, and Ivars Taurins, Tafelmusik’s flagship artist training workshop, the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, attracted a record number of applications and welcomed 98 musician participants from seventeen 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.


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, Hal Jackman Foundation, KPMG, Great West Life, London Life, Canada Life, McLean Foundation, Blakes LLP, iA Securities, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Margaret and John Catto, Margaret and Jim Fleck, The Pluralism Fund, 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.

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

High‐resolution photos are available for download here.