Tafelmusik, Canada’s award-winning orchestra on period instruments, has become an internationally recognized ensemble lauded by Gramophone Magazine as “one of the world’s top baroque orchestras.” Founded in 1979 by Kenneth Solway and Susan Graves, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has been under the inspired leadership of Music Director Jeanne Lamon since 1981. With its artist-focused mandate and commitment to excellence and innovation, Tafelmusik is actively creating new contexts for the performance of baroque and classical music.
At the heart of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is a group of seventeen remarkably talented, enthusiastic and dynamic permanent members, each of whom is a specialist in historical performance practice. Their collaboration results in a delightful transparency, vitality and richness of sound, which has garnered acclaim around the world. The musicians participate on many levels, whether as core members, soloists, or contributors to the exceptionally creative programming ideas that bring Tafelmusik concerts to life and make them fully relevant in a 21st-century context.
Tafelmusik recently launched an ambitious $3 million project to revitalize Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, its home performance venue since 1981. The two-phase project is being undertaken in partnership with long-time collaborators Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and the Toronto Consort, and will help usher in Tafelmusik’s vision of becoming a global centre of excellence in period performance, while preserving the 125-year-old building’s sacred and historic character. Phase One renovations will be completed in September 2013 and include acoustical improvements, the installation of a permanent stage, and more comfortable seating.
In January 2012, Tafelmusik launched its own independent label, Tafelmusik Media, which encompasses new digital, live performance, studio CD and DVD recordings, and re-releases of previous Tafelmusik recordings from SONY Classical and CBC Records. The Watch and Listen site, launched in 2012 as the precursor for Tafelmusik’s future digital concert hall, will feature films from the new House of Dreams DVD, and audio tracks from Beethoven Symphonies 1 -4 beginning in autumn 2013. Tafelmusik Media recordings are distributed by Naxos USA and Naxos Global Logistics.
The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, specializing in baroque and classical performance practice and vocal technique, was formed in 1981 to complement the orchestra. Under the direction of Ivars Taurins, the choir was awarded the Healey Willan Prize in 1991 and has been described as “the best period-performance choir anywhere in the world” (The Globe and Mail). The choir recently saluted three decades of artistic excellence with Choral Anniversary: Celebrating 30 Years.
The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir has made several critically acclaimed recordings, including Gloria in Excelsis Deo released on CBC Records in 2007 in celebration of the choir’s 25th anniversary season, and a 2011 live-concert recording of Messiah made in Koerner Hall, which was nominated for a 2013 JUNO Award. Tafelmusik’s annual performances of Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah — which celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2010 — have become an established part of Toronto's holiday tradition. In September 2011, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir appeared with Kent Nagano and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at the inaugural concerts in La Maison symphonique de Montréal. This performance was recorded and has been released on CD by Analekta.
Regular tours in Canada, the United States and Europe are complemented by ambitious tours to destinations like Asia and Australia. The orchestra has toured in Asia since 1990, performing in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Tafelmusik’s unique multidisciplinary and cross-cultural concert programs — such as The Galileo Project and House of Dreams — were created by double bassist Alison Mackay and have opened doors around the world. In recent years, Tafelmusik has taken The Galileo Project on the road to the Beijing Music Festival, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Tafelmusik will take The Galileo Project to Japan in November 2013. In March, 2013, House of Dreams travelled to Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as part of eight-city US Tour, which included a performance at Columbia University in New York City. Tafelmusik also performed at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall in 2009 and 2011, and will return to the venue for a concert in March 2014.
Tafelmusik has been invited to perform in Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Musikverein in Vienna, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, and the Barbican Centre in London. Since 1984 Tafelmusik has also performed in Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and from coast to coast in the United States and Canada. Tafelmusik made its debut at the Reate Festival in Rieti, Italy by invitation from the Festival’s Artistic Director Kent Nagano in 2009, and was invited to return in August 2010.
The only Canadian orchestra to have held an annual international residency, Tafelmusik was orchestra-in-residence at the Klang und Raum Festival in Irsee, Germany for 19 years from 1993. For Klang und Raum’s final edition in September 2011, the festival’s Artistic Director Bruno Weil led Tafelmusik in works by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.
An integral part of Tafelmusik’s success worldwide has been its recordings, with a discography of more than 80 baroque and classical albums on the Analekta, CBC Records, Sony Classical, Collegium, Hyperion and BMG Classics labels, nine of which have won JUNO Awards. Recent releases on the Tafelmusik Media label include The Galileo Project (CD and DVD), Sing-Along Messiah (DVD), a 2011 live-concert recording of Messiah made in Koerner Hall, and several re-releases of Tafelmusik CDs originally recorded for SONY and CBC Records.
Tafelmusik’s reach has extended to television and film, with performance documentaries Le Mozart Noir and The Four Seasons Mosaic. Produced by Media Headquarters, Le Mozart Noir is a documentary on Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a French Black composer and contemporary of Mozart. Originally broadcast on CBC, BBC, PBS, TV5, and ARTV, the DVD was released in 2005. The Four Seasons Mosaic, also produced by Media Headquarters, is a cross-cultural arts special which reinvents Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to include a Chinese pipa, Indian sarangi and Inuit throat-singing. The Four Seasons Mosaic premiered on CBC Television’s “Opening Night” in 2005, and the DVD is paired with Tafelmusik’s L’estro armonico CD. In December 2010, a live performance of Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah produced by 90th Parallel Productions was telecast nationally on Bravo! and was released on DVD in April 2012 on the Tafelmusik Media label.
At home in Toronto Tafelmusik performs over 50 concerts each season at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, a historic church in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, as well as a series of performances at George Weston Recital Hall in the Toronto Centre for the Arts, and at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for the Performing Arts, Royal Conservatory of Music. Selected concerts at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre are recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio Two programmes, and are also heard on National Public Radio in the United States.
Tafelmusik’s long and celebrated collaboration with Opera Atelier has helped establish Toronto as an important North American centre for baroque and classical opera performance. The two organizations collaborate on two productions per season in Toronto’s historic Elgin theatre. In 2012 Tafelmusik joined Opera Atelier at the Royal Opera House in Versailles, France to perform Lully’s Armide, and will return in May 2014 for performances of Lully’s Persée.
Working towards its vision of becoming an international centre of musical excellence, Tafelmusik has invested much energy and many resources into ongoing music education and outreach programs for music-lovers of all ages. In 2002, the orchestra and choir founded the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI). TBSI offers advanced students, pre-professional and professional musicians an in-depth course of study of baroque repertoire and performance practice through masterclasses, lectures, orchestral and choral training, and chamber ensembles. TBSI is held at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, where Tafelmusik is the baroque orchestra-in-residence. Building on the success of TBSI, in January 2013, Tafelmusik launched the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, a week-long specialized institute for advanced students and professional players of baroque string and continuo instruments. In 2010, Tafelmusik launched Baroque Mentors training programmes that allow emerging artists to learn directly from Tafelmusik musicians and distinguished guest artists through university residencies and guest artist masterclasses.
Tafelmusik continues its commitment to the Advanced Certificate in Baroque Performance Programme at the University of Toronto. This one-year programme is an intensive immersion in baroque performance on period instruments, combining study and performance with Tafelmusik musicians with academic courses offered at the Faculty of Music. Also offered is a two-year graduate programme leading to a Master of Music in Period Performance.
Tafelmusik's vision for music education also includes a programme for students in grades 6 through 12 featuring free outreach concerts, a musician-in-the-classroom programme, multi-disciplinary projects with area schools, and education events on tour including university residencies, children’s concerts and school visits. As part of an ongoing commitment to music education, Tafelmusik is providing permanent music-education classroom materials to the school groups they meet on tour, including access to Tafelmusik’s online learning centre, curriculum-based study guides, the JUNO Award-winning TafelKIDS™ recording Baroque Adventure: The Quest for Arundo Donax CD, the critically acclaimed Four Season Mosaic DVD with Inuit, Chinese and South Asian musicians, and Tafelmusik recordings related to the education programme.
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