Oct 25, 2016

Tafelmusik reports 16th consecutive surplus budget and record-breaking subscription revenue at AGM

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Toronto (Canada), October 25, 2016 … At Tafelmusik’s Annual General Meeting on October 24, Board of Directors Chair Helen Polatajko and Treasurer Jeff Bennett reported on the financial and artistic successes of the 2015/2016 season, reaffirming its stature as the most active period performance orchestra in North America. Record-breaking revenue from subscriptions, national and international tours, a new multimedia concert creation by Alison Mackay, a live recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the launch of the new late night series Haus Musik, and extensive artist training programs all contributed to an outstanding year.

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 program launched in 2012. Tafelmusik’s audiences responded enthusiastically to the range of concerts presented in several Toronto venues: Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre Jeanne Lamon Hall, Koerner Hall, Massey Hall, George Weston Recital Hall, the Hearn Generating Station, and 918 Bathurst Street.

“Tafelmusik's core artistic areas are the home performance season, touring, and recording, with additional activities in artist training, education, and outreach. Given Tafelmusik's artistic leadership nationally and internationally, we are building a sustainable model for increasing and maintaining international awareness, recording opportunities, and tour funding in these important areas,” said Ms. Polatajko.

Managing Director William Norris stated, “I am pleased to report our 16th successive balanced budget with an operating surplus of $107,017 on a budget of $5.4MM. Our firm financial footing enables us to program artistically adventurous projects, and the past season was a fantastic showcase for these — from Alison Mackay’s timely Tales of Two Cities, via our monumental performances of Beethoven Symphony 9 through to projects that take our music to new audiences, such as Haus Musik and our Luminato performance.”

Treasurer Jeff Bennett said, “Tafelmusik’s long standing tradition of excellence in financial management continues in 2015/16. Extensive budgeting, regular monitoring, forecasting and risk management processes are the foundation of this success, along with strong contingency planning. Fiscal success is demonstrated, in part, by being deficit free during a period of great artistic expansion, as well as significant revenue growth in earned, private sector and public sector support, and our endowment, which is now in excess of $5MM. Tafelmusik has doubled its revenues since 1999/2000, and the large growth areas of focus are: a) major gifts, b) a revitalized sponsorship strategy, and c) Tafelmusik’s endowment.”

Mr. Bennett also noted that in addition to $1,234,052 in Net Assets, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) holds a pool of endowment funds totaling $5,247,800 on behalf of Tafelmusik, of which $223,445 in investment income was received this past season.

Fundraising revenue for the annual operating campaigns was especially strong at $1.3MM, up from $1.064 in 2013/14.  A successful gala event chaired by David Linds in May raised more than $82,000 in support of Tafelmusik’s concert and education programs, andCentre Stage sponsors CIBC and CIBC Mellon were singled out for special thanks.  

Outgoing Board membersJeff Bennett, Susan Doniz, and William Meany were warmly thanked for their many years of accomplished service. Tafelmusik also welcomed four new board members: Bevan Brooksbank, Borden Ladner Gervais; Liane Kim; Eunice Lumsden, CxO Advisory Services Inc.; and Rom Schlumpf, CIBC.

Ms. Polatajko acknowledged the many individuals who contributed to making the season a success, saying, “I sincerely thank our wonderful and active Board of Directors, Jeanne Lamon, the orchestra, Ivars Taurins and the choir, our Managing Director William Norris and the Tafelmusik staff, and our many volunteers for all of the accomplishments of this past season and for their dedicated work.”

Tafelmusik thanked its sponsors and all levels of donors at the Annual General Meeting, with a special mention of Season Presenting Sponsor Sun Life Financial for its leadership support. BMO Financial Group, Hal Jackman Foundation and Lynn & James Haight were thanked for their significant support of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, RBC was thanked for its support of the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, and TD Bank Group was thanked for its sponsorship of the Tafelscene program.  Great West Life was acknowledged for their support of the Education Concerts, and Margaret & Jim Fleck, for their support of the George Weston Recital Hall series. The Metcalf Foundation was acknowledged for supporting Tafelmusik’s digital media initiatives, and Bank of America Merchant Services, CIBC and CIBC Mellon, KPMG, Davis + Henderson, and William Meany were also thanked for their generous support. Tafelmusik also acknowledged its government partners Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Canadian Heritage and City of Toronto.  



Tafelmusik continued to push the boundaries of the concert experience with the latest of its stunning multimedia productions created by double bassist Alison Mackay. May 2016 saw the premiere of her fully-memorized program, 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 was described asa 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). So successful was Tales of Two Cities that the recording of the program was fast-tracked, and the CD and DVD will be released in 2017.

On May 10, the worlds of baroque and electronica 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. 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).

In June Tafelmusik was invited to join arts partners across the city to mark Luminato’s 10th anniversary celebrations. Under the direction of Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon, the orchestra performed in Luminato’s new venue, the Hearn Generating Station. The venue’s cavernous, cathedral-like setting made for an exciting and thought-provoking contrast with the baroque repertoire being performed — music by Bach, Handel, and Telemann.


A major milestone was reached in February 2016, 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 took place during a series of sold-out, critically acclaimed public performances 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.

Tafelmusik’s first-ever crowdfunding campaign, Fund the 9th, was launched in January 2016 in support of the live recording. 122 supporters contributed a total of $16,607 over the course of the 54-day campaign, which exceeded its initial goal of $15,000, thanks to more than 120 individual backers.

Released on the Tafelmusik Media label on September 30, 2016, the Beethoven 9 recording was well-received. “I enjoyed the precise and light articulation of the period instruments in the second movement and slightly subdued colours and the beautiful swelling of the third movement phrases. But make no mistake – Tafelmusik sounds just as powerful as any contemporary symphony orchestra. It builds the momentum of the emotional narrative with conviction.” (The Wholenote)

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… 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)


The 15/16 season featured performances by compelling guest artists including conductor Bruno Weil, and violinists/guest directors Cecilia Bernardini, Elisa Citterio, Mira Glodeanu, and Rodolfo Richter; and harpsichordist Benjamin Alard.  

The launch of the international Tafelmusik Vocal Competition offered 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

Earlier in the season, Taurins led the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in critically acclaimed performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and Handel’s Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah. The choir also premiered Valediction, a new work commissioned from Canadian composer Jeffrey Ryan.


Tafelmusik continues to develop the next generation of musicians through its annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summerand WinterInstitutes. Last 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. 


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 some 80 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 programs, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute. Tafelmusik has been led by Jeanne Lamon since 1981, with Managing Director William Norris joining the team in 2015. In June 2014, Ms. Lamon stepped down as Music Director and continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita.


Tafelmusik wishes to thank the following for their generous support: BMO Financial Group, RBC Foundation, TD Bank Group, John and Margaret Catto, Margaret and Jim Fleck, Great West Life, London Life, Canada Life, Hal Jackman Foundation, KPMG, 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.

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

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