Another Tafelmusik season has come to an end, one unlike any other in our history!
In 2021/22, we were thrilled to return to live performances while once again offering a Digital Season of eight full-length concert films, as well as an array of other digital programs and initiatives. For the first time since March 2020, we welcomed international guest artists and musicians back to our stage. The reunion of audience and musicians was emotional and inspiring.
We were also delighted to welcome BMO as Season Presenting Sponsor. BMO’s sponsorships programs provide significant funding for organizations that enrich community life, and we are grateful for their support.
The 2021/22 season opened with Music & Magic, a digital production blending two mesmerizing art forms to create a world of illusion and enchantment. Conceived and programmed by Tafelmusik oboist and visual artist Marco Cera, who co-wrote the script with award-winning magician Nicholas Wallace, the film paired music by baroque composers with compelling magic vignettes by Wallace. A performance by contortionist Quinten Melo and stage direction by magician and digital media producer Ryan Joyce completed the picture.
In addition to Music & Magic and video recordings of three live concerts, we premiered four
all-new digital concerts recorded at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre: Spotlight 15; Voice of Vivaldi with Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano; Haydn & Friends; and Classical Revolution: Bologne & Mozart with guest director and violinist Leila Schayegh.
In late November, almost 21 months after our last live public performance at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Tafelmusik made its long-awaited return to the stage with A Tafelmusik Christmas. Curated by Choir Director Ivars Taurins, the festive program reunited members of the choir and orchestra for the first time in 2021 and marked the launch of Tafelmusik Chamber Choir’s 40th anniversary season.
In April, we welcomed two sold-out houses at our home venue for a poignant and unforgettable live tribute concert honouring Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon, who passed away in June 2021. This deeply personal musical homage was co-created by friend and colleague Alison Mackay, together with Jeanne’s partner and former Tafelmusik principal cellist Christina Mahler, who returned to perform with the orchestra directed by Julia Wedman, actor R.H. Thomson, baritone Brett Polegato, and Tafelmusik Chamber Choir directed by Ivars Taurins. The award-winning Canadian filmmaker Barbara Willis Sweete directed the concert film version produced by White Pine Pictures, which was broadcast online in early June.
“I’ve often resisted the virtual concert, seeking something authentic, however this concert satisfies completely because of the emotions in play. It’s not just another concert. Film-maker Barbara Willis Sweete has accomplished something miraculous, the variety of camera angles feeling organic and unforced, the sound wonderfully alive.” (Barcza Blog)
A major milestone took place in early May when Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir performed the first classical concert in the newly revitalized Massey Hall. World-renowned Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki returned to direct a “finely honed and carefully balanced” (Ludwig van Toronto) performance of Bach’s B-Minor Mass, featuring guest soloists Joanne Lunn, soprano; Tim Mead, countertenor; Thomas Hobbs, tenor; and Jonathon Adams, baritone.
In accordance with revised public health measures, in spring 2022 we were pleased to add two live concerts devoted to the music of J. S. Bach. The orchestra returned to Koerner Hall in late May to revisit four of the six sparkling Brandenburg Concertos, and Tafelmusik Chamber Choir wrapped up its 40th anniversary season with an evening of Bach Motets at Eglinton-St. George’s United Church.
A dynamic array of digital offerings complemented the digital season and live music experience throughout 2021/22. We presented three online Tafel Talks featuring guest panelists and moderators from Toronto and beyond. These lively panel discussions navigated a range of intriguing topics, including Baroque Feast, with panelists Laura M. Carlson, Farzam Fallah, and Samantha Medeiros, moderated by Patrick G. Jordan; Music in the Key of Green, with panelists Abigail Richardson-Schulte, Kathleen Reilly, and Maryem Tollar, moderated by Katy Clark; and Remix Culture, with panelists Jennifer Jenkins, Mathieu Lussier, and SlowPitchSound, moderated by Cristina Zacharias.
In keeping with our quest to explore baroque and beyond while contributing to community life, we launched a series of initiatives, including the final instalment of Musik in Motion, our free series of collaborative videos. Set to music from our 2019 recording of Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for bassoon in D Minor, Movement 1 featured choreography by Hanna Kiel and recent graduates from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. The film premiered in September as part of Culture Days’ digital offerings.
Over the Family Day weekend, we premiered The Gull, the Raccoon, and the Last Maple, a powerful new digital concert for the whole family. This contemporary fable about climate change was composed by Abigail Richardson-Schulte, with text and story by Alexis Diamond, narration by Amanda Cordner, and stage direction by Jordan Laffrenier.
Tafelmusik’s Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI), our internationally renowned artist training program, was held virtually once again. In June we welcomed 47 participants and 32 auditors from across Canada, the US, England, Spain, Bolivia, China, and South Africa to a busy week of masterclasses, lectures, and workshops, presented live over the Zoom conferencing application.
A new issue of Tafel magazine for the musically curious was published earlier this year, featuring in-depth articles and interviews with conductor Masaaki Suzuki, violinist Leila Schayegh, and culinary historian Annie Grey. These offstage conversations are meant to enhance our community’s understanding of the music that we are committed to exploring while inviting diverse perspectives.
Over the course of the season, Tafelmusik also collaborated with several organizations to bring the beauty of music of the past to local and national communities. Throughout the month of February, we were thrilled to partner with Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and University Health Network (UHN). Four free digital concerts were offered to the physicians, learners, and staffs of MGH and UHN to show gratitude for the tremendous dedication of healthcare professionals during the global pandemic.
In March, together with Concerts in Care Ontario, we embarked upon a national initiative that brought four free digital concerts to more than 1,000 seniors’ facilities through a cross-Canada network consisting of Concerts in Care (Ontario), Health Arts Societies (Western Canada), and LaSAMS (Quebec).
Other community-focused activities included a chamber music concert for the Cultural Performing Arts Series at Evergreen Brickworks; All Creatures Great and Small, a chamber music concert at the Columbus Centre presented by Villa Charities and North Wind; and a free performance and instrument petting zoo for Doors Open Toronto 2022, which welcomed more than 1,000 community members into Jeanne Lamon Hall and Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.
We were also delighted to offer performances beyond our immediate boundaries this spring, with live concerts at the Toronto Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, the Montreal Baroque Festival, and Ottawa Chamberfest.
We cannot summarize the 2021/22 season without acknowledging the tragic loss of our dear friend and beloved colleague Allen Whear, Associate Principal Cellist. In recognition of Allen’s 27 seasons with Tafelmusik, and his 22 years as a core musician, we dedicated our Classical Revolution concert film to his memory.
In late April, we shared the news that Elisa Citterio will not be returning to Tafelmusik next season. In her role as Music Director, Elisa’s contribution to our organization has been profound. Under her inspiring leadership, Tafelmusik broadened its status as a global leader in period performance, exploring exceptional repertoire from the 17th through 19th centuries, commissioning new works, and promoting cross-cultural exchanges. She led an acclaimed new recording, Vivaldi con amore, prestigious tours to Europe and Australia, and worked intensively on high-quality digital concerts to keep Tafelmusik connected with our audience in new ways. We are deeply grateful for her leadership as Music Director during her five-year tenure. An Artistic Committee has been appointed to oversee programming while the Board of Directors undertakes the search for a new Music Director.
After 27 years as a member of the soprano section, Francine Labelle will be leaving Tafelmusik Chamber Choir. We will miss her terrific sense of humour and extend our thanks for her significant contribution to the choir over the years. We are also grateful to departing choir members Katy Clark, soprano, and David Yung, baritone, and are pleased to welcome sopranos Jane Fingler and Teresa Mahon to the choir next season.
We are excited to welcome the newest member of Tafelmusik, violinist Johanna Novom, who will be joining the orchestra as a core member in September 2022. Johanna was Associate Concertmaster of Apollo’s Fire, and has performed with many period ensembles, including Trinity Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra, and Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, among others. As the past season disappears in the rear-view mirror, we can’t help but be excited as we look ahead to the 2022/23 season! There is so much to look forward to—from large-scale works for choir and orchestra, including Bach St John Passion and Handel Messiah, to intimate chamber music; and from the return of popular guest artists, including Jonathon Adams, Karina Gauvin, James Gilchrist, Aisslinn Nosky, Rachel Podger, Brett Polegato, Leila Schayegh, and Krisztina Szabó, to Tafelmusik debuts by several of today’s most exciting talents in baroque music—Francesco Corti and Avi Stein, guest directors and harpsichordists; Myriam Leblanc,soprano; Samuel Mariño, male soprano; Christopher Lowrey, countertenor; Valerio Contaldo, tenor; and William Sharp, baritone.
We hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to experiencing the power of live music with you all again soon!