A special message from Christina Mahler and Alison Mackay

Our upcoming 40th season is a time for celebration, and as with all anniversaries, a chance for reflection, particularly for those orchestra members who have been with us since the beginning.

Christina Mahler, cello, and Alison Mackay, double bass, have recently let us know that they will be retiring from the orchestra after the 2018/19 season.

Both Christina and Alison are performing a number of concerts next season, and there will be lots of time to celebrate each of their tremendous contributions to Tafelmusik, and to wish them well as they embrace this next step in their lives.

Alison’s legacy will also continue in her rich array of multimedia programs that are now part of Tafelmusik’s repertoire. She continues to dream up new ideas, and will share these with Elisa and the orchestra for consideration for future seasons.

Christina and Alison have asked us to share the following personal messages with you, and are very much looking forward to sharing Tafelmusik’s milestone anniversary with you next year.


It was 37 years ago that I moved from Holland to Toronto to play in Tafelmusik. Canada has truly become my home. I would like to thank all of you for your warm welcome and all of my colleagues for a remarkable 37 years of music making.

I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to play in Tafelmusik for all these years. It has been an amazing journey of collaborative chamber music making, which is in my view the highest musical goal.

As instrumentalists, we are very similar to dancers and athletes in terms of the demands our profession puts on our bodies. Even a few years ago, I believed that I would go on playing in Tafelmusik forever. But as those years passed, my visits to the chiropractor and physiotherapist have increased to the point where I realize it is time for me to slow down and plan my retirement from Tafelmusik’s fast-paced schedule. Therefore, next season, Tafelmusik’s fortieth, will be my final year.

Working with Jeanne Lamon for my first 35 years with Tafelmusik has been wonderfully fulfilling. I am also very excited to have the opportunity to work with our warm and inspiring new Music Director, Elisa Citterio. I really look forward to the programs that we will play together before my departure next season.

It is not easy to say goodbye to you, our home audience. Our relationship has been very meaningful and important to me. We have grown together in our understanding of the music we all love. Although this represents the closing of a major chapter in my life, it is not the end of the book. I very much hope to be playing the cello in concerts for a long time to come.

I’m sure that Tafelmusik will find a wonderful principal cellist to replace me. The future is very bright for Tafelmusik and I will always hold the orchestra and the audience very close to my heart.


The 2018/19 season will mark my fortieth year as a member of the Tafelmusik Orchestra, and since I was 26 when I joined, it will be time to bid a fond farewell and pass the job on to one of the gifted bass players of the next generation. It has been the privilege of my life to share the stage with my beloved colleagues, each of whom is a brilliant and brainy virtuoso, and I will be forever grateful to orchestra founders Kenny Solway and Susan Graves for inviting me to join, to Jeanne Lamon for 35 years of inspiring leadership, collaboration, and profound shared experiences, and to Elisa Citterio for her passionate commitment to Tafelmusik and for her warmth as a colleague and friend.

For me, the Tafelmusik musicians, staff, donors and audience members are a family with whom I feel a deep personal connection in our shared love of our organization. The Music Directors and Managing Directors of the orchestra have given me unique opportunities to experiment with the ways in which baroque music is presented in performance, and the players have participated in our special projects with untold hours of extra work and flair on stage beyond my greatest hopes.

Excited about the future of Tafelmusik, I look forward to my final season with zest and then to joining you all in the audience to see what new magic will unfold.

If you wish to send remarks and wishes to Christina or Alison, please forward them to info@tafelmusik.org.


My Tafelmusik … with Rick Earls

In our ongoing series of featuring long-term supporters, “My Tafelmusik” invites donors to share their story with us. Individual support is integral to Tafelmusik. It funds live concerts in Toronto and across the world, education programs for young people, innovative new multi-media and recording projects … in addition to bringing renowned guest artists to our stage.

Here is Rick Earls’ story.

I first was exposed to classical music going to the TSO and Mendelssohn Choir concerts with my mom in the late 1960s, then gained an appreciation for opera listening to LPs from the Seneca College library in the early 1970s.

I have been going to Tafelmusik concerts for about 35 years. It has been such a wonderful experience to hear baroque music coming from such brilliant musicians. What a treat! My wife, Sally, has not been able to attend concerts for about seven years due to complications from a broken hip, but hopes to “face the music” again in the near future.

I took my wife Sally on dates to the NBC and COC in the mid-70s, then discovered Tafelmusik in 1981. We used to go to 90 to 100 concerts per season, now cut back to about 70 with 13 organizations.

We enjoy the high quality of performance and diversity of programing with Tafelmusik. I look forward to continued excellence and diversity in programing under Elisa’s leadership. When we go to the concerts I feel that I have been educated on baroque music and instruments and how people lived many centuries ago. We had an opportunity to visit Salzburg and Vienna on an Austrian trip in 2000, and when I hear music that composers from this area have written, it brings me a lot of joy.

Some of our memorable Tafel-moments:

  • Coming out of the Church of the Transformation in Markham after a Messiah concert just as snow began to fall and then the church bells struck eleven.
  • Running into some orchestra members at the hotel we were staying at in Stratford during the Summer Music Festival.
  • Getting glowing comments from some colleagues who attended a concert in Kingston that I told them about.
  • The surprise on my sister-in-law’s face after I gave her Julia Wedman’s solo CD after she swooned over her solo playing in a Bach Brandenburg Concerto.

Supporting the musical community runs in our family — my great-grandfather John Earls , who founded the Toronto Marlboroughs, was also a major player in a 1894 attempt to create a Toronto Philharmonic Society, but it only lasted two years.

We believe strongly in financially supporting Tafelmusik and many other arts organizations so that they can boldly go forward into the 25th century where no man has gone before (oops — make that 21st century and orchestra).

Support a global leader! Membership donations allow Tafelmusik to continue
inspiring the love of baroque and classical music. Give today!