From Dowland to David Bowie and Purcell to Petula Clark
Arrangements by Andrew Downing | Vocals by Alex Samaras
Featuring Tafelmusik musicians

October 4, 2023 … Following a four-year hiatus, Haus Musik is back with Mods & Rockers on November 7 at 8 PM at Toronto’s legendary venue, El Mocambo. Mods & Rockers puts a new spin on old tunes that range from the 1600s to the 1960s and beyond. Iconic pop hits like Petula Clark’s Don’t Sleep in the Subway, The Beatles’ Across the Universe, David Bowie’s Life on Mars, and Soft Cell’s Tainted Love get a “baroque” makeover in arrangements by Andrew Downing featuring vocals by Alex Samaras — the creative team behind the 2019 Haus Musik hit, Café Counterculture. Tickets are $20 in advance at, or $25 at the door.

Mods & Rockers celebrates two moments when English music took the world by storm. The first took place during the 17th century, when innovative composers like John Dowland and Henry Purcell shaped the musical landscape in England and beyond. The second began almost three hundred years later, when the British musical tidal wave of the 1960s swept over the world and influenced artists for decades to come.

The set list for Mods & Rockers features hits by Petula Clark, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Queen, and Soft Cell, juxtaposed with a selection of music curated by Christopher Verrette by 17th-century English composers including John Dowland, Henry Purcell, and William Young.

“It’s fascinating how British musicians in the 60’s were able to make an American style – Rock – their own and then market it so successfully to North American audiences. Petula Clark even made it onto Glenn Gould’s radar,” says Tafelmusik violinist Christopher Verrette. “The songs we have chosen span 20 years and are quite varied in style. Some had ‘classical’ elements to their original scoring, such as strings or harpsichord. Andrew has made fresh arrangements with both Tafelmusik’s sound and Alex’s voice in mind.”

Launched in 2016, Haus Musik is Tafelmusik’s creative remix that combines baroque music with other genres, including folk, jazz, or pop.

Mods & Rockers program

Petula Clark – Don’t Sleep in the Subway
Dusty Springfield – No Stranger Am I
Beatles – In My Life
Beatles – Across the Universe
David Bowie – Life on Mars
Kate Bush / Peter Gabriel – Don’t Give Up
Queen – Bicycle Race
Soft Cell – Tainted Love

Music by Henry Purcell, John Dowland, William Young, and William Brade


Haus Musik: Mods & Rockers
November 7, 8 PM
El Mocambo, 464 Spadina Ave
Tickets are $20 in advance at
$25 at the door.

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Tafelmusik gratefully acknowledges the support of our government partners, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Andrew Downing is a double bass player, composer, and bandleader living in Toronto. He graduated from the University of Toronto’s Jazz Performance program and has since studied with Jack Winn, Dave Young, Don Thompson, Shauna Rolston and Joel Quarrington.

Andrew plays primarily in the creative jazz scene in Canada, but also performs in various genres. A member of the David Occhipinti Quartet and the Lina Allemano Four, he also leads his own groups The Great Uncles of the Revolution and Melodeon. Andrew has received a JUNO Award, a West Coast Music Award, and The Grand Prix de Jazz. As a composer, he has written pieces for Ensemble Meduse, Toca Loca, Runcible Spoon and the Urban Arts Brass Ensemble, as well as many works for his own groups.


Alex Samaras is recognized as one of North America’s leading singers in the jazz, experimental, and new music idioms. He has performed with Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble, Beverley Glenn Copeland, Jackie Richardson, and Marvin Hamlisch, among others. His vocal group GREX explores the extremes of the human voice in the context of ancient music and his own original compositions. Alex has performed across the country in well known groups A Sondheim Jazz Project and The Queer Songbook Orchestra. He released his first solo album in 2017 and has since been touring and playing festivals around Canada. Alex has premiered new operas and created roles in new musicals. His work extends to the dance community through numerous collaborations with choreographers.

Alex teaches singing at The University of Toronto Jazz Department, Humber College, Jazz Works Music Camp, and National Music Camp. He is also the founder of the PAL Chorale for Seniors at the Performing Artists Lodge in Toronto.

Tafelmusik is a world-renowned period orchestra and choir in the heart of Toronto.

Founded 45 years ago on the pillars of passion, learning, and artistic excellence, Tafelmusik brings a fresh perspective to baroque music and beyond. Historically informed performances of 17th- to 19th-century instrumental and choral music share the stage with exciting multimedia programs, bold new commissions, and intriguing cross-cultural collaborations. The orchestra plays on period instruments, and all performances are illuminated by scholarship. From dynamic live concerts at Jeanne Lamon Hall in Toronto’s historic Trinity-St Paul’s Centre and stunning Koerner Hall, to international tours, award-winning recordings, and inspiring education programs, Tafelmusik is a musical powerhouse with a reputation for thrilling and delighting audiences. 

Media contact:

Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications | 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X7