For many, the Tafelmusik Box Office wouldn’t be the same without our trusty Manager, Martin Reis. Whether he’s helping subscribers with their ticket packages, helping newcomers find the best possible seats, or sharing with you what concerts he’s really looking forward to, Martin is always there when you need him. You might have even caught sight of his alter ego, the French Postman, on stage with Mr. Handel at Massey Hall over the years! As with many Tafelmusik staff, Martin has a full and busy life outside of our walls. We recently chatted with Martin about his time at Tafelmusik and his other interests and hobbies.
You joined Tafelmusik 25 years ago. How did you hear about the job?
The job was listed at an employment centre.
Did you know about baroque music before joining us?
Yes, quite a bit. My father was a church organist and my mother’s maiden name is Bach (of course, no relation). After moving to Canada from Germany, I worked for several years for Tourism Toronto and would very often send visitors to enjoy Tafelmusik concerts. So when a job opened up in the Box Office in the early nineties, I jumped at the chance.
What have been some of your favourite concert moments over the years?
Oh, too many to list here, but that weekend when former Mayor Mel Lastman called in the army because Toronto was snowbound and the concerts went ahead anyways, one even by candlelight, that was pure magic. I also have very fond memories of performances by Anner Bylsma, Marion Verbruggen, Stefano Montanari, the many astounding multimedia programs of Alison MacKay, and our wonderful choral concerts.
Do you have a favourite church cat story?
Even though the new feline addition to the church, Meesha, is holding her own, my faveourite story is when legendary church cat Moriarty managed to get onto the stage in the middle of a concert and a red-faced house manager had to come to the rescue — to the delight of the audience. The Tafelmusik musicians never missed a beat.
You’re an avid cyclist — have your pedals taken you anywhere exotic?
I think my most exotic ride was an adventure in the Altiplano of Bolivia. I rode down a mountain bike trail starting at 5200m and ending in the jungle. Not sure how I survived that, but certainly not something I will ever try again. Closer to home, I really loved bike-touring in magical Haida Gwai.
Many concert-goers may not know about your alter-ego, the French postman. How did he come about?
Martin de la Rue, the French Postman, came about by sheer coincidence. A filmmaker friend needed help finding a vintage French postal costume for a short film, so I bought one for him online. It did not fit him at all, but was just my size. Voila! The inspiration for my alter-ego character comes from an early film by Jacques Tati called Jour de Fête, which is about a French postman. My alter-ego knows how to have fun and has appeared at Nuit Blanche (2008), the Sing-Along Messiah (2013 & 2016), and mostly recently this summer at Art Spin in Toronto. One day, we’ll actually finish the short film.
On top of all of this, you’re an incredible photographer. What are your favourite things to shoot around the city?
Thank you, you are too kind! When I go about the city, I very much enjoy photographing the quieter corners of our city, the alleyways, and the older buildings of Toronto. There is a lot of beauty all around us and all you need is time to find it.
If you have favourite stories to share about Martin, we’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave comments here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.