For centuries, composers have turned to the natural world for inspiration and it’s no surprise that today, music gives voice to one of the most urgent issues of our time—climate change.

The global pandemic has only intensified the understanding of our relationship to nature, both its power to dominate our lives and the solace it provides. Our wide-ranging conversation explores the profound relationship between music and the environment, from the sustainability of materials used to make instruments to the idea of retraining our ears to listen more closely to the natural world.

Box Office
Tafelmusik Box Office
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Running Time
About 60 minutes
Style of Music

Digital Broadcast

March 16, 2022 7:00 pm
Headshot of Abigail

Abigail Richardson-Schulte


Composer Abigail Richardson-Schulte was born in Oxford, England, and moved to Canada as a child. Ironically, she was diagnosed incurably deaf at 5, but, upon moving to Canada her hearing was fully intact within months. Her music has been commissioned and performed by major orchestras, presenters, music festivals and broadcasters including the Festival Présences of Paris. Abigail won first at the prestigious UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers with broadcasts in 35 countries. She won the CBC Karen Kieser Prize, Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Opera, Quenten Doolittle Award, CMC Prairie Region Award and the City of Hamilton Arts Award. Abigail has been Affiliate Composer with the TSO and curated for their New Creations Festival.  In 2012, she wrote a piece on the classic Canadian story, “The Hockey Sweater” by Roch Carrier, in the country’s first triple co-commission by the TSO, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.  This orchestral “hit” has had over 150 performances in Canada and 14 performances in France. A recording of the work has been released on the Centrediscs label in both French and English with Roch Carrier and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.  Other notable orchestral works include: a WWI memorial piece, “Song of the Poets”, with choir and orchestra for NACO’s UK tour, and a complete children’s orchestra concert of Dennis Lee’s “Alligator Pie”. Abigail has a busy schedule as a composer, teaches composition at the University of Toronto, and is in her ninth year as Composer-in-Residence with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Abigail is also the composer behind The Gull, the Racoon, and the Last Maple, a program recently commissioned and debuted by Tafelmusik. 

Kathleen Reilly


Raised in Vermont, Kathleen Reilly owns Vermont Violins with her husband, Oren Kronick.  At Vermont Violins, she manages the manufacture of the V. Richelieu line of violins and violas, North American distribution of Sonowood, and instrument sales and restoration.  The principles of environmental sustainability and community development have served as key guides for the business’ growth. Her education background includes Oberlin Conservatory and College, studying viola performance and international relations; a master’s degree in the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont, and lutherie courses with Hans Nebel and Horst Klaus at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.  Kathleen’s earliest employment focused on issues related to the international timber trade and endangered species preservation at the Nature Conservancy and Friends of the Earth, and teaching viola and violin at the Monteverdi Music School. With her background in conservation and love of music, she founded Vermont Violins with her husband in 1990.  When the company began production of its own line of instruments, the V. Richelieu violins and violas, she was eager to incorporate appropriate, long-term policies and education for threatened and endangered species including Pernambuco, ivory and ebony into its manufacturing ethos … and the ethos of the company at large. A love of music and the natural world around us informs her work every day. She lives in Vermont with her husband, musical son, dog, cat and two miniature donkeys.

Maryem Tollar


Maryem is a renowned Egyptian-Canadian vocalist, known for her world music performances. Her voice has been heard on the theme of CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R. Rahman’s Bollywood hit, Mayya Mayya. Tollar was the featured vocalist in Tafelmusik’s multi-media performances of “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House” and the narrator and vocalist in “Safe Haven”. She performed Christos Hatzis’ piece “Syn-Phonia – Migration Patterns” with The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik; and his multi-media piece “Constantinople” with The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan. She performs with several Toronto musical groups including Al Qahwa (Traditional Arabic Music and Original compositions); Turkwaz (Traditional Turkish, Greek, Arabic and Balkan vocal repertoire); Odessa-Havana (original Ladino/Cuban/Jewish/Jazz repertoire) and with storyteller Dawne McFarlane, adding music and sounds to her stories. She was awarded the inaugural 2019 Johanna Metcalf Prize for Performing Arts. Maryem ran as the Toronto-Danforth Green Party candidate in the 2021 Canadian federal election.

Katy Clark


Soprano Katy Clark is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, where her research is focused on the operas of John Beckwith. She sings across Canada as a soloist and chorister. She is a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, The Elora Singers, the Canadian Opera Company Chorus, and Opus8, and has appeared with such ensembles as the Amici Chamber Ensemble, the Windsor and Stratford Symphonies, and Michigan Opera Theatre. Ms. Clark teaches Singing and Vocal Pedagogy at McMaster University, as well as operating a private teaching studio. She is the founder and executive producer of Village Opera, a London-based opera company that specializes in performing Canadian vocal works. 

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Box Office (Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall)
T: 1 (833) 964-6337

T: 1 (833) 964-6337