Feb 12, 2018

Tafelmusik Gives Debut Performances of Alexander’s Feast

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Handel’s ode to the power of music
Feb 22 to 25, 2018

“A sense of cohesion and purpose that is what music-making on the highest level is all about.”
The Globe and Mail (on Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir)

Toronto, February 12, 2018 … From February 22 to 25, 2018, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir gives its debut performances of Alexander’s Feast, Handel’s dramatic and colourful ode to the power of music. Directed by Ivars Taurins, these concerts are a fitting way to mark the composer’s birthday on February 23, and take place at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning.

Alexander’s Feast honours St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, and Tafelmusik’s debut performances feature an array of guest soloists renowned for their musicality: Amanda Forsythe, soprano, “an absolute wonder, able to bring striking precision, agility and dynamic shading to her articulation, and to her coloratura runs and trills in particular,” (Seen and Heard International); Thomas Hobbs, tenor, “a joy to behold in Handel’s diverse tenor solos, lyrical of voice,” (Sinfini Music); Alexander Dobson, baritone, whose “beautiful, rich and commanding voice …  is also as smooth as silk,” (Opera Canada); and Julia Seager-Scott, harp, whose “clear melodic lines against the lower contrapuntal notes are perfect,” (The Wholenote).

The premiere of Alexander’s Feast took place at Covent Garden in February 1736, a few short weeks after Handel completed the score. The work is a setting of poetry by John Dryden scored for vocal soloists, choir, and orchestra, and includes concertos for harp and organ. The libretto describes a banquet held by Alexander the Great and his mistress Thaïs in the captured city of Persepolis. Roused by the singing and playing of the musician Timotheus, Alexander decides to avenge his fallen soldiers by torching the city. Cecilia arrives just in time and persuades Alexander to allow the beauty and sacredness of music to prevail.

“The aim of St. Cecilia odes is to celebrate music, and it is evident here in the range of orchestrations in the airs and choruses, and by the inclusion of two concertos — one for harp, representing Timotheus’ lyre, and one for organ, representing ‘the divine Cecilia,’ says Tafelmusik’s Charlotte Nediger, who will be featured as organ soloist in the second concerto.

Over the years Ivars Taurins and the choir have developed a quality of sound, intonation, word painting, and colour that brings a freshness and directness to the music they perform. Music critics have acknowledged this in countless reviews, including one from the choir’s 35th anniversary concert last season: “In a world that craves new things done in new ways, one might wonder how a group dedicated to music written two to three centuries ago can flourish. But Taurins and by extension, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, have grown, experimented and done everything to make what they interpret sound as fresh as the day the last of the copyist’s quill-applied ink dried on the pages of the score.” (Musical Toronto).

Audience members are invited to join conductor and teacher Larry Beckwith for a free pre-concert chat one hour before each performance.



Amanda Forsythe sang Eurydice on the 2015 GRAMMY-winning recording of Charpentier La descente d’Orphée aux enfers. Career highlights include Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Boston Symphony/Andris Nelsons and Los Angeles Philharmonic / Susanna Mälkki), Bach Magnificat, Marzelline in Beethoven Fidelio (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Sir Antonio Pappano), Handel Sileti venti and Laudate pueri (Chicago Symphony / Nicholas Kraemer), Amour in Gluck Orphée and Mozart C-Minor Mass and Requiem (Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra / Sir John Eliot Gardiner), and the title role in Handel Teseo (Philharmonia Baroque / Nicholas McGegan).


Thomas Hobbs is in demand with many leading baroque and early music ensembles. Highlights of this season include Haydn Creation with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla), Schumann Requiem with Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Richard Egarr), Evangelist in Bach St Matthew Passion with Netherlands Bach Society, and Handel Messiah with Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican. He will also sing Bach programs with the Milan Symphony Orchestra, Violons du Roy, Danish National Symphony, Gli Angeli Genève, La Chapelle Harmonique, Dunedin Consort, and will travel to Australia to sing Bach Christmas Oratorio with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Thomas will return to Israel to sing Bach and Britten with the Israel Camerata.


British-Canadian baritone Alexander Dobson is equally renowned on opera and concert stages. Recent major roles include the title role in Wozzeck with Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (Yannick Nézet-Séguin); Masetto in Don Giovanni with Calgary Opera and Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera; and Guglielmo (Così Fan Tutte), Belcoré (L’elisir d’amore), and Ned Keene (Peter Grimes), all with L’Opera de Montréal. Concert performances of note include Walton Belshazzar’s Feast with Toronto Symphony (Sir Andrew Davis), Mahler Songs of a Wayfayer with Orchestre Métropolitain, Fauré Requiem with Windsor Symphony, and Mahler Symphony No. 8 with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the combined National Arts Centre Orchestra and Orchestre Métropolitain.


Toronto native Julia Seager-Scott is principal harpist of the Stratford Festival Orchestra, a position she has held since 1997. She is also a teacher and freelancer, doing solo, orchestral, choral, chamber, radio, and television work. Julia fell in love with baroque harp in 2002 and undertook studies with Lucas Harris and Maxine Eilander. Julia has performed Handel’s Harp Concerto on modern harp since she was a teenager and she is thrilled to realize her dream of performing it on the instrument for which it was created, the triple harp. Julia’s newly-released solo CD Two Roads features her on triple harp and clarsach, a wire-strung Gaelic harp.


A native of southwestern Ontario, harpsichordist Charlotte Nediger joined Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra as principal keyboard player in 1980 at age 21 and has held that position ever since. She has an extensive background in music research, and works behind the scenes at Tafelmusik as Assistant to the Music Director, Librarian, and Program Editor. She also oversees Tafelmusik’s Artist Training Programs, notably as Artistic Coordinator of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute. Charlotte teaches at the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School.


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, 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.

Listing information:

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir presents Alexander’s Feast by G.F. Handel, directed byIvars Taurins

Dates & Times:
Thu Feb 22, Fri Feb 23, Sat Feb 24, 2018 at 8pm
Sun Feb 25 at 3:30pm

Ticket Prices:
: Start at $39 | 65+: Start at $39 | 35 & Under: Start at $26

Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Box Office:
Koerner Hall, Weston Family Box Office: (416) 408-0208


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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.