Dec 14, 2017

Tafelmusik presents the world premiere of Safe Haven

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January 18–23, 2018

A multimedia concert exploring the influence of refugees on the music and culture
of baroque Europe and Canada today.

Created by Alison Mackay

Elisa Citterio, music direction
 Maryem Tollar, narrator and vocalist | Diely Mori Tounkara, kora
Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion

you have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land
— Warsan Shire

Toronto, December 14, 2017 … Tafelmusik continues to push the boundaries of classical music concerts with its spectacular multimedia productions created by double bassist Alison Mackay. Her latest, Safe Haven, 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. The world premiere performances of Safe Haven are directed by Elisa Citterio, and take place January 18 through 21 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, and January 23 at George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Mackay and her creative team employ scripted text narrated by Maryem Tollar, 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. 

“Throughout history, the effects of war, religious persecution, climate change, and poverty have caused people to abandon their homes and seek asylum beyond their borders,” says Mackay.  “In the time of Tafelmusik’s baroque repertoire, waves of refugees had a huge influence on the music and culture of Europe. Today, when many refugees are finding their place in Canadian communities, the past can teach us about the cultural riches our newcomers have to offer.”

Safe Havenfeatures music by European baroque composers including Corelli, Lully, Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi — composers whose interactions with migrant musicians, impresarios, and artisans had a major influence on their work. In the final section of Safe Haven, Mackay brings the program full circle to Canada’s music scene, where cross-pollination has flourished thanks to the arrival of musicians and musical traditions from around the world. With guest artists Diely Mori Toukara, kora, Maryem Tollar, voice, and Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion, the second half explores some of the rich global cultural traditions passed along to a new generation of Canadian musicians.

Safe Havenalso explores how the movement of refugees across baroque Europe changed and enriched the economy and culture of major cities. French Huguenots could be found in Amsterdam, Scottish Catholics in Warsaw, and Sephardic Jews in the cities of Northern Italy. Audiences will hear how the term refugee (or refugiés) first came into common usage during the forced exodus of Protestants from France, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685.

 Tafelmusik’s creative multimedia performances have been described as “powerful” (The Globe and Mail), “flawless” (Musical Toronto), and “entertaining” (HuffPost Canada), and have delighted audiences around the world. Earlier programs including J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation, House of Dreams, and The Galileo Project have been seen across Canada and the United States, and some have travelled as far as China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. DVD and CD recordings of The Galileo Project, House of Dreams, and most recently, Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House have garnered considerable critical acclaim and are available on the Tafelmusik Media label.

Safe Haven Production Sponsor: KPMG
Safe Havenis generously supported by The Pluralism Fund.


Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion, is the daughter of master percussionist Mahmoud Farahmand, and has performed with many well-known ensembles in Iran and at festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America. In 2010 she moved to Canada, releasing her solo percussion CD Unbound and collaborating with leading performers of world music. She has vast experience teaching music and conducting workshops throughout the world. In 2016 she released her first instructional DVD on Persian rhythms, The Iranian Daf, in international drumming language.

Alison Mackay, who has played the violone and double bass with Tafelmusik since 1979, is active in the creation of cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary programmes for the orchestra. A number of her projects, which include The Four Seasons,a Cycle of the Sun;The Galileo Project;House of Dreams; and Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig Damascus Coffee House have been made into feature documentary films and have toured extensively around the world. Her musical tale of adventure, The Quest for Arundo Donax, was awarded the 2006 Juno Award for Children’s Recording of the Year, and she is the recipient of the 2013 Betty Webster Award for her contribution to orchestral life in Canada.

Maryem Tollar, narrator, is a renowned Egyptian-Canadian vocalist, known for her world-music performances as well as original compositions. Her voice has been heard on the theme of CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R. Rahman’s Bollywood hit, Mayya Mayya. Maryem received Juno nominations in 2017 for Nazar with quartet Turkwaz and in 2009 for Cairo to Toronto with Ernie Tollar, and received a Juno Award in 2014 with the group Odessa/Havana. She has performed in Christos Hatzis’ Syn-Phonia, Constantinople, Sepulcher of Life, and From the Song of Songs. She is featured on Tafelmusik’s newest CD-DVD release, Tales of Two Cities.

Diely Mori Tounkara, kora, was born in Mali. He hails from a large family of musicians called griots, and followed in his father’s footsteps to become a master of the kora. Throughout his upbringing he was immersed in mandingue culture, learning from leading musicians, historians, storytellers, and singers. His knowledge of traditional Mali music is extensive, and his compositions have touched audiences of diverse origins, from Africa to the Western world. Diely Mori has worked with artists from Mali and Senegal, and since moving to Canada in 2007, with a range of artists in Montreal. The Tounkara-Lavoie Trio has won numerous prizes. Diely Mori teaches kora, guitar, and percussion.


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.

Listing information:
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra presents Safe Haven
A new program from Alison Mackay
Directed by Elisa Citterio

Dates & Times:

Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
Thu Jan 18, Fri Jan 19, Sat Jan 20, 2018 at 8pm
Sun Jan 21 at 3:30pm


George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts
Tue Jan 23, 2018 at 8pm



Ticket Prices:

TSP: Regular: Start at $43 | 65+: Start at $35 | 35 & Under: Start at $19


TCA: Regular: Start at $38 | 65+: Start at $33 | 35 & Under: Start at $15




Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
427 Bloor Street West, Toronto


George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge Street, Toronto



Box Office:

Tafelmusik Box Office: (416) 964-6337


George Weston Recital Hall Box Office: 1 (855) 985-2787


Antonio Vivaldi               Allegro non molto, from “Winter” (The Four Seasons)

Jean-Baptiste Lully           Suite from Cadmus & Hermione

Claude Goudimel           “Or sus, serviteurs du seigneurs”

& Louis Bourgeois

Henry Purcell                   Voluntary on The Hundredth Psalm

Johann Sebastian Bach    Sinfonia to Cantata 156

Antonio Vivaldi                Allegro, from Concerto for 4 violins in F Major

Tomaso Albinoni             Allegro, from Concerto for 2 oboes

A. Vivaldi                         Allegro, from “Winter” (The Four Seasons)

Agostino Steffani             Ouverture, from I trionfi del fato

Juan Hidalgo                     A la salida de Lisboa

Peter Phillips                    Pavan

Jan Sweelinck                   Pavana Philippi

Tobias Hume                    A Soldier’s Galliard

John Beck                         “Come riggs are bonnie,” from The Balcarres Lute Book

Georg Philipp Telemann  Adagio, from Concerto for oboe in C Minor

                                          Mezzetin en turc, from Suite in B-flat Major

                                          Les postillons, from Suite in D Major

A. Vivaldi                         Largo, from “Winter” (The Four Seasons)

Arcangelo Corelli            Allegro, from Concerto grosso in D Major


Media contact:
Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications, (416) 456-0499 |
427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X7
High‐resolution photos are available for download here.