“There is probably no more inspirational musician working today”—Gramophone

Toronto, April 20, 2023 … Tafelmusik is thrilled to announce the appointment of violinist Rachel Podger, “the unsurpassed British glory of the baroque violin” (The Times), to the newly created role of Principal Guest Director for a two-year period starting in September 2024.

Fresh from being announced as the winner of two 2023 BBC Music Magazine Awards for Instrumental Recording and Recording of the Year, as 23/24 Artist in Focus for Kings Place, and with two new albums released this month, Podger is a leading interpreter of baroque and classical music. She was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize in October 2015, Gramophone Artist of the Year 2018, and the Ambassador for REMA’s Early Music Day 2020. A creative programmer, she is the founder and Artistic Director of Brecon Baroque Festival and her ensemble Brecon Baroque. A full biography is available below.

As Tafelmusik’s Principal Guest Director, Podger will direct three mainstage programs per season, as well as recordings and select tours, including Tafelmusik’s 2024 Asia Tour in a jointly-curated program entitled Brilliant Baroque. An important creative collaborator, she will work closely with Tafelmusik’s Artistic Co-Directors—violist Brandon Chui, bassoonist Dominic Teresi, and violinist Cristina Zacharias—on the programs she directs.

La Passione: Haydn & Mozart, my recent project with Tafelmusik, felt like a homecoming—exciting yet easy, a shared musical language and a collective fount of creativity and passionate aspiration amongst a team of friends,” says Rachel Podger. “To then learn that I had been gifted the opportunity of a closer relationship with an ensemble I have admired for so many years is a dream come true. I can’t wait to return and share new musical adventures with the ensemble and its dedicated family of followers.”

“We are thrilled to welcome renowned violinist Rachel Podger as Tafelmusik’s Principal Guest Director for our 24-25 and 25-26 seasons,” says Cristina Zachariason behalf of Tafelmusik’s Artistic Co-Directors. “Our recent concerts with her were electrifying, sensitive, and virtuosic, and created magical experiences for musicians and audiences alike. Rachel is a generous and inspiring artist and we cannot wait to collaborate more regularly with her!”

“Rachel Podger’s well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s top baroque violinists presents a wonderful opportunity for Tafelmusik to amplify its standing as a global leader in period performance,” says Daniela Nardi, Interim Executive Director. “In addition to Rachel’s superb musicianship and gift for creative collaboration, she has an innate ability to communicate with audiences in a compelling way. We look forward to a thrilling new chapter at Tafelmusik with Rachel on board.”   

Podger’s remarkable Tafelmusik debut more than a decade ago left a lasting impression on musicians, audiences, and critics, thanks to her “interpretations that combined strong phrasing held aloft with rhythmic vigour.” (Ludwig van Toronto) Earlier this year, Podger made her long-awaited return as soloist and guest director in La Passione: Haydn & Mozart, a program of classical symphonies and concertos. Her dynamic leadership, virtuoso playing, and sheer charisma brought the audience to its feet.

Watch a video excerpt of Rachel Podger’s recent performance with Tafelmusik, premiering today at youtube.com/tafelmusik1979.

“Rachel Podger’s own virtuoso performance and above all, her dynamic interaction with the rest of the orchestra, all of whom appeared to be almost physically tied to her enthusiasm, totally enthralled all of us and brought us to our feet for a well-deserved standing ovation.” (Tafelmusik subscriber)

Tafelmusik gratefully acknowledges the support of BMO, Presenting Sponsor of the 2022/23 concert season. We are also grateful to our government partners, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Violinist Rachel Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of baroque and classical music. She was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize in October 2015, Gramophone Artist of the Year 2018, and the Ambassador for REMA’s Early Music Day 2020. A creative programmer, Rachel is the founder and Artistic Director of Brecon Baroque Festival and her ensemble Brecon Baroque; she is Principal Guest Director for Tafelmusik for the 24/25 and 25/26 seasons, Artist in Focus at Kings Place for 23/24, is Patron for The Continuo Foundation and an Ambassador for the Learned Society of Wales. Rachel is the 2023 BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Year and Instrumental Award winner for her solo album Tutta Sola.

Following her residency at the renowned Wigmore Hall, Rachel continues to widen the breadth of her artistry, collaborating with orchestras and ensembles worldwide, including most recently the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Tafelmusik, Montana Baroque, Tesserae Baroque, and Philharmonia Baroque. Upcoming engagements include Salamanca Baroque, Luthers Bach Ensemble, Handel and Haydn Society, and a residency in 23/24. Alongside these, as a director and soloist Rachel has worked with many other collaborators, including VOCES8, Robert Hollingworth & I Fagiolini, Robert Levin, Jordi Savall, Christopher Glynn, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Masaaki Suzuki, Armonico Consort, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, San Francisco Early Music Society, Holland Baroque, and Oregon Bach Festival.

Upcoming recordings on Channel Classics include CPE Bach with Kristian Bezuidenhout, a box set of Vivaldi, and The Goldberg Variations Re-imagined, a new arrangement by Chad Kelly with Brecon Baroque. Recent releases include Tutta Sola, nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award, and Beethoven Sonatas 1, 5, and 10, and the world premiere of three previously unfinished Mozart sonatas, both with Christopher Glynn. Past releases include Vivaldi Le Quattro Stagioni with Brecon Baroque, and Bach Cello Suites transposed for the violin.

Rachel has won numerous awards, including two baroque instrumental Gramophone Awards for La Stravaganza (2003) and Biber Rosary Sonatas (2016); the Diapason d’Or de l’année in the Baroque Ensemble category for her recording of the La Cetra Vivaldi concertos (2012); and two BBC Music Magazine awards for Guardian Angel (2014) and the complete Vivaldi L’Estro Armonico concertos (2016).

Rachel was featured in The VOCES8 Foundation’s LIVE From London festival in a new advent version of A Guardian Angel, and alongside I Fagiolini in their Christmas programme Angels and Demons. She performed solo Bach for Gramophone Magazine’s Winners’ Digital Gala, appeared in Bitesize Proms, BOZAR at Home, Living Room Live, Baroque at the Edge, and a collaborative disc by Musicians For Musicians titled Many Voices on a Theme of Isolation. Rachel presented BBC Radio 3’s Inside Music and directed a recording of Chad Kelly’s new arrangement, The Goldberg Variations Reimagined, written especially for Rachel and Brecon Baroque.

A dedicated educator, she holds the Micaela Comberti Chair for Baroque Violin (founded in 2008) at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Jane Hodge Foundation International Chair in Baroque Violin at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Rachel has a relationship with The Juilliard School in New York, which she visits regularly.

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 historically informed performance. Played on period instruments and grounded in scholarship, 17th- to 19th- century instrumental and choral music shares the stage with exciting multimedia programs, bold new commissions, and intriguing cross-cultural collaborations. From dynamic live performances 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. 

Tafelmusik is a Canadian charitable organization that relies on donations from the community to make our performances and education programs possible.

Website: tafelmusik.org
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Media contact:

Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications
luisa@luisatrisi.com | 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X7