Jun 27, 2017

Tafelmusik Wraps Up an Extraordinary Season of Growth and Transformation

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“Tafelmusik continues to provide incredibly high-quality music for audiences the world over. With [Elisa] Citterio at the helm from September, we have much to look forward to…”  —The Wholenote

Toronto, Canada, June 27, 2017 … Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir are on a roll, having just wrapped up an extraordinary season that saw the appointment of the “superb” (The Guardian) Italian violinist Elisa Citterio as the orchestra’s next Music Director. Over the course of the 2016/17 season, Tafelmusik boosted its stature as a global leader in period performance thanks to myriad activities in the areas of live concerts, national and international touring, recording, and artist training. Audience outreach initiatives flourished this season, with an 18% increase in tickets sold on subscription for the popular 35-and-under membership program Tafelscene.

Elisa Citterio succeeds Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon as only the second music director in Tafelmusik’s 39-year history. Following the announcement of her appointment in January 2017, Citterio returned to co-direct the season grand finale in May with Tafelmusik Chamber Choir Director Ivars Taurins. She led “a very stylish, sophisticated performance” (The Globe and Mail) of Haydn’s Symphony No. 98, a work the orchestra had not performed before. Hundreds of Koerner Hall audience members were also treated to an intimate pre-concert Q&A session with Citterio, which was moderated by writer and broadcaster Robert Harris.

Tafelmusik achieved a record-breaking year in annual giving, thanks to the generosity of more than 1,000 members and donors. Individuals contributed over $975,000 — a massive 63% increase over the previous record, which was set during the 2015/16 season. Tafelmusik also welcomed three new corporate sponsors this year: iA Securities, Blakes and Stikeman Elliott.


Visions and Voyages: Canada 1663-1763

“You don’t really expect an evening of contemplation about the meaning of Canada and its Indigenous peoples from a baroque orchestra. But Visions and Voyages provides it … with skill and passion."
—The Globe and Mail

Marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Tafelmusik double-bassistAlison Mackay's latest multimedia program brought a century of Canadian history to life with superb baroque music, dance, lighting design, scripted text, and spectacular projected images, creating the kind of immersive concert experience for which Tafelmusik is world-renowned.

Collaborating closely with two of Canada’s most exciting First Nations artists, narrator Ryan Cunningham, former Artistic Director of Native Earth Theatre Company, and dancer and choreographer Brian Solomon, Mackay took an unflinching look at a century that saw the establishment and subsequent abandonment of Aboriginal treaty rights. Visions and Voyages premiered at Jeanne Lamon Hall in February to enthralled audiences, who described the program as “remarkable,” “sublime,” “outstanding,” and “particularly poignant.” A touring version was later seen in London, Hamilton, Midland, and Port Perry.   

Tafelmusik Chamber Choir at 35

The choir’s carefully crafted sound, delivered with vivid expression, is nothing less than a Canadian national treasure … they make the scores come alive in a way that is the essence of what makes people fall deeply in love with music.” —Musical Toronto

Under the direction ofIvars Taurins since its formation in 1981, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir celebrated its 35th anniversary throughout the 2016/17 season, starting with Let Us All Sing in November, Messiah and the 30th anniversary performance of Sing-Along Messiah in December, and A Bach Tapestry in February. They concluded this landmark season in May with powerful performances of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.

 Engaging Audiences Across the GTA

“I’m not sure what has motivated what must be close to a record breaking run of artistic output for an already prolific group, but Toronto and area audiences will have a slew of concerts to choose from in the next few weeks.” The Wholenote

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, 2016/17 saw three Haus Musik events at Longboat Hall and the debut season of the Close Encounters chamber music series, which sold out on subscription, at Temerty Theatre and Heliconian Hall. A free lunch-hour performance at the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre drew the series’ largest audience to date, and five free 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 were also well attended. A special performance of Alison Mackay’s “powerful” (The Globe and Mail) and “flawless” (Musical Toronto) multimedia creation Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House at the Aga Khan Museum was recorded before a live audience for release on DVD in fall 2017. Tales of Two Cities received rapturous critical acclaim at its May 2016 premiere and was named Best Concert of 2016 by Spanish classical music magazine Codalario.com.

The first full season of Haus Musik, Tafelmusik’s “fresh and fearless … shiny and new” (The Wholenote) experimental performance concept, was launched over three events at Longboat Hall (The Great Hall) on Queen West. Haus Musik offers a dynamic platform for collaboration between Tafelmusik and exciting young artists and directors from Toronto’s emerging indie opera scene and beyond, such as this season’s directors Amanda Smith (FAWN Chamber Creative), and Alaina Viau (Loose TEA Opera); electronic artists ACOTE, Jeff Jones, and SlowPitchSound; dancers Lybido andMary-Dora Bloh-Hansen; filmmaker Darren Bryant; and projection designer Andrew Chip Scriver, among others.   

Tafelmusik was thrilled to be the first professional orchestra to embark on Opus: Testing |Period Piece in collaboration with Musica Reflecta and the Canadian Music Centre. Opus: Testing featured new compositions by eight emerging composers for a quartet of Tafelmusik musicians, and culminated with a public workshop in March.

Free pre-concert chats were made public to all ticket holders for the first time in the orchestra’s history, and a new Listening Club, with broadcaster and musicologist Dr. Hannah French and Ivars Taurins, was piloted in April. The Listening Club rolls out in the 2017/18 season, with the goal of stimulating animated discussion about specific music selections.    


In 2016/17 Canada’s busiest touring orchestra spent more than six weeks on the road, with two of Alison Mackay’s multimedia creations seen in four different countries including Canada.

J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation in China, Korea, the United States and Canada

In November, Mandarin and Korean versions of J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation travelled to the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre in China, and three venues in Korea, including the Grand Concert Hall in Daegu, Tongyeong Concert Hall in Tongyeong, and the LG Centre in Seoul. Premiered in Toronto in May 2015, the fully-memorized program also travelled to eight American cities in February and March, including Finney Chapel in Oberlin (OH); Schwab Auditorium at Penn State University (PA); Luis. A Ferre Performing Arts Centre in San Juan (PR); Tiedtke Concert Hall in Winter Park, (FL); Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara (CA); Carpenter Performing Arts Centre in Long Beach (CA); Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla (CA); and Meany Hall at the University of Washington, Seattle (WA).

Closer to home, J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation was performed for a sold-out house at the National Arts Centre’s Canada Scene Festival in Ottawa earlier this month. Toronto audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy a remount of J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation at Jeanne Lamon Hall in March 2018.

In March the orchestra brought a touring version of Visions and Voyages to London, Hamilton, Midland, and Port Perry with evening performances complemented by school versions in each location.

In May Tafelmusik returned to the Royal Palace of Versailles with long-time collaborator Opera Atelier for performances of Charpentier's Medea with Elisa Citterio as concertmaster. Several Tafelmusik musicians joined singers Mireille Asselin and Jesse Blumberg and artists of Atelier Ballet for a performance in the Royal Chapel at Versailles.


September 2016 marked an important milestone in Tafelmusik’s history, with the release of its recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the Tafelmusik Media label, thereby completing its cycle of recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies. Recorded live in concert at Koerner Hall under the direction of Bruno Weil, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was nominated for a 2017 JUNO Award and has been streamed online an impressive 195,000 times to date.

In February, Tafelmusik reissued its award-winning film Le Mozart Noir, which uncovers the mystery around Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a Black eighteenth-century violinist and composer.Released as a CD/DVD package, Le Mozart Noir was launched at a free screening presented in collaboration with Toronto Black Film Festival.


Under the guidance of Artistic CoordinatorCharlotte Nediger and Directors Jeanne Lamon and Ivars Taurins, Tafelmusik’s flagship artist training workshop, the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, attracted a record number of applications and welcomed 100 musician participants from fifteen 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. 

Website: tafelmusik.org

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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, founded as a registered charity in 1979, is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles. In January 2017 the orchestra appointed violinist Elisa Citterio as Music Director, succeeding Jeanne Lamon, who stepped down in 2014 following a remarkable 33-year tenure that began in 1981. Lamon continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita. 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 offers annual artist training programs including the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute. Managing Director William Norris joined the Tafelmusik team in 2015.


Tafelmusik wishes to thank the following for their generous support: BMO Financial Group, RBC Emerging Artists Project for its generous support of Tafelmusik Winter Institute, 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
High‐resolution photos of Tafelmusik are available for download here.