Toronto, Canada, July 6, 2016 … Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir has wrapped up its 2015/16 season, reaffirming its stature as the most active period performance orchestra in North America, thanks to national and international tours, a new multimedia concert creation by Alison Mackay, a live recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the launch of new late night series Haus Musik, record-breaking revenue from subscriptions, and extensive artist training programmes. In October 2015, Tafelmusik welcomed its new managing director William Norris, who came to his post from London’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment — one of the UK’s leading period music ensembles.
Tafelmusik’s 2015/16 season garnered the highest subscription revenue in recent history, bucking the industry-wide trend of declining subscriptions. The season also saw more than 2500 new audience members attending Tafelmusik concerts, with almost 18% of single tickets sold coming from Tafelscene — the popular 35-and-under membership programme inaugurated in 2012. Tafelmusik’s audiences responded enthusiastically to the range of concerts presented in four Toronto venues: Trinity-St. Paul’s Jeanne Lamon Hall, Koerner Hall, Massey Hall, and George Weston Recital Hall.
2015/16 Season Highlights:
Tafelmusik continues to push the boundaries of the concert experience with its stunning multimedia productions created by double bassist Alison Mackay. May 2016 saw the premiere of her latest fullymemorized programme, Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House, with narrator Alon Nashman and guest ensemble Trio Arabica. Inspired by the colourful, opulent world of eighteenth-century Saxon and Syrian coffee houses, Tales of Two Cities is“a phenomenon that was unexpected and powerful” (The Globe and Mail), an “enterprising concept … [that] blends elements that are entertaining, educational, musically rewarding and visually arresting.” (Huffington Post Canada)
On May 10, 2016, the worlds of baroque and EDM collided at Tafelmusik’s inaugural Haus Musik. This immersive, engaging, experimental initiative loosened up the live classical music experience by taking it out of the concert hall and into an informal, standing-only venue with a laid-back vibe and cash bar. The event featured Tafelmusik musicians performing music by Purcell, Marini, Biber, and others, with sound design by DJ BSMNT, lighting design by Noah Feaver, and direction by Amanda Smith. “… A welcome tonic to today’s rarefied and revered concert hall template. Haus Musik puts the music at your feet.” (Toronto Star).
February 2016 marked a major milestone, as the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir made a live recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Koerner Hall, thereby completing its recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies – the first North American orchestra on period instruments to do so. The recording will be released on the Tafelmusik Media label on September 30, 2016, with worldwide distribution by Naxos.
The recording of the 9th took place February 4 through 7, 2016, during a series of sold-out, critically acclaimed public performances in Toronto’s Koerner Hall, with conductor Bruno Weil leading the combined forces of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and guest soloists Sigrid Plundrich, soprano; Mary-Ellen Nesi, mezzo-soprano; Colin Balzer, tenor; and Simon Tischler, bass-baritone.
Canada’s most active touring orchestra spent more than five weeks on the road this past season. In November 2015, the orchestra joined long-time collaborators Opera Atelier in performances of Lully's Armide at the Royal Palace of Versailles, France — just days after the Paris attacks. In a guest column for The Globe and Mail, Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon wrote, “If ever we had an important job to do, it’s now. Ambassadorship, yes. But above all, the imparting of humanitarian values through our art.”
In March 2016, Tafelmusik brought its “all-encompassing … bliss-filled” (Toronto Star) multimedia concert House of Dreams to seven cities across Western Canada, including Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Edmonton, and Calgary. "While there are many attempts to fuse music with the visual these days, this one seemed inspired, and avoided any sense of cliché … I was immediately taken with the sheer ease with which the ensemble played to a virtuoso standard … I think it is unlikely that something like this could be better done than it was here." (Vancouver Classical Music)
Tafelmusik continues to develop the next generation of musicians through its annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer and Winter Institutes. This season’s programmes welcomed more than 125 pre-professional and professional musicians from more than a dozen different countries. Participants gathered in Toronto in January and June for intensive advanced training programmes led by some of the world's finest musicians in the field of baroque performance.
The 2015/16 season also saw the inauguration of the international Tafelmusik Vocal Competition, a unique opportunity for new voices to be introduced to Toronto audiences. The winners — Kim Leeds, mezzo-soprano; Jacques-Olivier Chartier, tenor; and Jonathan Woody, baritone — made their Tafelmusik debuts in May as soloists in Jan Dismas Zelenka’s Missa omnium sanctorum, under the direction of Ivars Taurins. Each of the prize-winners also received $2,000, and were mentored by German soprano Dorothee Mields in a series of masterclasses.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016/17
Tafelmusik looks ahead to the 2016/17 season with considerable excitement. In addition to concerts with renowned guest artists and long-time Tafelmusik collaborators, the orchestra will perform with a short-list of prestigious international candidates for the position of Music Director.
Tafelmusik’s 2016/17 season kicks off on September 22, 2016 at Koerner Hall with a grand opening night performance of Handel’s Water Music. The season includes tours to Asia, Europe, and the United States; a new multimedia concert creation — Visions & Voyages: Canada 1663 — 1763 — by Alison Mackay, with Ryan Cunningham of Native Earth Performing Arts, to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation; the expansion of Haus Musik, with three events in different venues across the city; the launch of a new chamber music series, Close Encounters, which sold out in a matter of weeks; the celebration of Tafelmusik Chamber Choir’s 35th anniversary; the 30th anniversary performance of Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall; and appearances by acclaimed guest artists, including soprano Karina Gauvin and cellist Christophe Coin. Browse through our 1617 online brochure
In addition to concerts performed in its home venue of Trinity-St. Paul’s Jeanne Lamon Hall, Tafelmusik returns to Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, for three programmes, and continues its three-concert series at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts.
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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, founded in 1979, is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. The orchestra performs more than 50 concerts each year at home in Toronto, and travels extensively around the world. The choir and orchestra’s multi-platform recording label Tafelmusik Media was launched in January 2012, along with the Watch and Listen site. Tafelmusik’s discography of 80-plus CDs has been recorded on the Sony Classical, CBC Records, Analekta and Tafelmusik Media labels. Since 1991, Tafelmusik has received nine JUNO Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. Tafelmusik is the Baroque Orchestra-in-Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and operates annual artist training programmes, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute. Tafelmusik has been led by Jeanne Lamon since 1981. In June 2014, Ms. Lamon stepped down as Music Director and continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita.
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