May 22 is National Buy a Musical Instrument Day! While the origins of this celebration are unclear, today we are celebrating some recent and upcoming additions to the Jeanne Lamon Instrument Bank that have been made possible thanks to generous support from donors this season.

Founded in 2006, Tafelmusik’s Instrument Bank is a collection of period instruments and bows that are available to both professional musicians performing with Tafelmusik, and students learning to perform on period baroque instruments.

As a period ensemble, our repertoire often calls for specialty baroque instruments that are rare and thus not owned by musicians. Having these instruments available enables Tafelmusik to enhance the audience experience by having exactly the right period instruments for the repertoire programmed.

Maintained and curated by Tafelmusik’s musicians, the Instrument Bank is a unique resource that allows Tafelmusik to share the beauty of baroque with both audiences and budding artists.

New Bows

In summer of 2021, we received numerous donations to the Jeanne Lamon Instrument Bank in honour of Jeanne Lamon after her sudden passing. Jeanne had a deep love for performing music of the classical era, and it was with this love in mind that our committee pursued new additions to our collection of instruments and bows.

We have been able to commission four new classical bows and one new violone bow from Toronto-based bow maker Stephen Marvin. Stephen is a former Tafelmusik musician who performed alongside Jeanne for many years, making this commission a very special project for the experienced bow maker. Our Instrument Bank already includes several of Stephen’s baroque bows and will grow to include classical bows for the first time. We are excited to add:

  • Two classical violin bows, one classical viola bow, and one classical cello bow
  • One violone bow to accompany the instrument already in our collection

Until 2020, all the bows in the Instrument Bank were appropriate for the baroque period, but we have started to see an increase in the number of requests for classical bows. Given that classical programming is a vital part of Tafelmusik’s core repertoire, and was a favourite of Jeanne’s to perform, we know that these additions to our collection will be used frequently and become well-loved by our musicians and students alike.

Baroque Viola Donation

The Instrument Bank has also received a new baroque viola, thanks to a donation from Tafelmusik supporter Binnie Brennan. As a violist with Symphony Nova Scotia, Binnie had the opportunity to work closely with Jeanne Lamon as a colleague and mentor and decided to donate her viola in Jeanne’s memory this fall. When deciding what to do with her baroque instrument after retiring, she said, “the decision came very quickly. I’m just so pleased to think of students making good use of it.

Basse de Violon Commission

The basse de violon is an early baroque cello, and was the instrument used in the baroque period until the early 1700s. There is a considerable amount of early baroque repertoire that the composers wrote with the sound of this instrument in mind. But since it is not used as frequently as the late baroque cello, most cellists do not own their own. Thanks to a generous gift from Tafelmusik donor Michael Disney, we have been able to commission a new basse de violon from lutenist Nate Tabor. This instrument based on a 1690’s cello from Arcangelo Corelli’s orchestra in Rome, is expected to be complete in August 2022. Tafelmusik cellist Keiran Campbell will debut this basse de violon onstage during the 2022/23 season.

Instrument Petting Zoo

Curious to learn more about baroque instruments and our Jeanne Lamon Instrument Bank? Join Tafelmusik on Sunday, May 29,, 2022 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for a family-friendly Instrument Petting Zoo as part of Doors Open Toronto. Meet with musicians, hear the difference between baroque and modern string instruments, and try your hand at some less-common instruments like the timpani!

Doors Open provides an opportunity for visitors to explore 100+ sites of architectural, cultural and social significance in Toronto. Tafelmusik and Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre (TSP)—the orchestra’s home venue—were awarded one of the coveted spots this year. Visitors to TSP are invited to hear performances by Tafelmusik (May 29) and VIVA Singers Toronto. Guided and self-guided tours are available on May 28 and 29.

Learn more about early music

Read our blog to learn more about baroque music, composers, instruments, our own orchestra, choir, and much more.