Gloria Re-Release: A Message from Ivars Taurins

By Ivars Taurins, Choir Director

For the past 37 years, I have had the great privilege and pleasure to explore and share my passion for choral music with the remarkable group of singers known as the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir. In 2006, we opened our 25th anniversary season with a gala concert of music that epitomizes the choir and its characteristic sound and spirit, and we were delighted that CBC Records documented this special celebration by releasing a CD entitled Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Gloria by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir

The Bach and Vivaldi settings of the Gloria, together with Mondonville’s dramatic motet Dominus regnavit, continue to be favourites of Tafelmusik and our audiences, and I am delighted that this recording is once again available on our own label, Tafelmusik Media.

Gloria is now available for purchase at Tafelmusik concerts and on our online shop.

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Harlequin Blog Series: The Servant and his Master

By Sarah Baumann, Marketing Director

One of the most-anticipated concerts of our 2018/19 season is the world premiere of The Harlequin Salon in January 2019. Following on the success of the multimedia performances created by double bassist Alison Mackay, these concerts will be created, scripted, and illustrated by oboist Marco Cera. We’ll be writing a monthly Harlequin blog post to take you behind the scenes as this production comes to life!

This January, Tafelmusik will stage an elaborate Roman salon hosted by caricaturist Pierre Leone Ghezzi (portrayed by show creator Marco Cera). Famous guests at the salon will include composer Antonio Vivaldi, 24-year old opera diva Faustina Bordoni, and cello virtuoso Giovanni Bononcini. These guests and their music will be performed by Tafelmusik’s Music Director Elisa Citterio, guest soprano Roberta Invernizzi, and Tafelmusik cellist Christina Mahler.

How else will these performances bring a theatrical flair to the world of Ghezzi and his guests? While reading Ghezzi’s diaries, Marco realised that he wrote about his servants a lot – and that their escapades were similar to those in the famous Carlo Goldoni play, The Servant of Two Masters. This play draws on the traditions of commedia dell’arte, a form of theatre first developed in 16th century Italy, featuring masks, stock characters, and comedic sketches, or “lazzi.” The Harlequin Salon will interweave musical performances with scenes featuring Ghezzi’s servant, Harlequin, played by Toronto actor Dino Goncalves.

We asked Marco what kind of trouble we can expect from Goncalves’ character: “He’s going to animate and host the party for the audience, get into trouble, and attempt to seduce our opera singer, Faustina. This will lead her to play a trick in turn on him in return. Hijinx will definitely ensue!”

Harlequin, or Arlecchino, is the best-known of the comic servant characters from commedia dell’arte. He is known for his chequered costume, and is light-hearted, nimble, and astute, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, in order to pursue his own love interests. Will he succeed in winning the heart of Faustina Bordoni and not bringing the party crashing down around him? We hope you will join us to find out!

This blog series will continue in November and December. Here is the link to the first post, Marco meets Ghezzi.

The Harlequin Salon premieres January 16-20, 2019 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Click here to buy your tickets now.

Get to know Brandon Chui, viola

This season, violist Brandon Chui takes up his position as the newest core member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Brandon had a busy freelance career on modern viola when his interest in period playing inspired him to attend the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer and Winter Institutes. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard!

 

We know you as a violist, but you first studied violin. What drew you to the violin?

Brandon Chui, violist

It was actually through my love of the trombone that I discovered the violin. I’d already been playing trombone for a couple of years in band class at school. I discovered a bunch of orchestral VHS videotapes my dad had recorded off PBS. I was watching all the trombone bits but soon fell in love with the violin. After a year of begging, my parents let me have my first violin lesson at the age of thirteen. They didn’t want to commit to anything because of a previously failed experiment with piano lessons. I remember my first lesson like it was yesterday — my teacher Zheng Zhong He came to our house and opened up the case to my violin. Words can’t describe the excitement I felt!

What was your first music gig?

Two friends from high school and I set up a group that played at weddings and other community events. With a configuration of two violins and keyboard, our group — called Strings of Joy — charged $150 for a wedding. Fifty bucks for a fifteen-year old was still a decent chunk of money twenty years ago. By that time I had also picked up the trumpet in high school and occasionally belted out Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary on the namesake’s instrument. Man, those brides got more than they bargained for; I pity the poor souls who were subject to my shenanigans!!

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My primary teacher in university, Mark Skazinetsky, really made me think of phrasing, line, colour, the impact of different types of articulation and how it affects musical characterization — he was the one who really fostered my love for music as an art form, not just playing the violin, and I think that’s one of the greatest gifts a music student can receive.

What is your favourite music to listen to?

I spend a lot of time on the road, and along with blaring Handel as I cruise the mean streets of Toronto, hip hop and R&B often make appearances on the car stereo. It’s 99% classical at home though, and I go through periods of composer obsession. Bach always hits once a year where I simply can’t get enough. Right now, I’m coming off of a month-long Bruckner craze.

What are the last three pieces you’ve listened to?

  • Bruckner Symphony No.8, with Bavarian Radio Symphony and Mariss Jansons
  • The Spinner’s I’ll Be Around
  • John Legend’s album Get Lifted, the last thing blasted in the car

What is your favourite thing to do in Toronto during your free time?

Laughing loudly with friends while eating food. A lot of food.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Toronto?

It’s not the most glamorous place, but Roti Cuisine of India up at Spadina/Dupont holds a real special place in my heart. Special shout-out to their Baigan Burtha and Lamb Korma!

You have a night off — what do you do?

During basketball season, I always check in advance to see if there’s a Toronto Raptors game happening during our nights off. If there is, you’ll find me glued to the TV. With the addition of Kawhi Leonard to the roster this season, you can expect more of the same from me. Another activity I am known for is eating. If it’s tasty, I eat it.

What words of wisdom would you pass to budding musicians?

Be realistic: the majority of musicians don’t win an orchestral job right out of school. Most will have to live the life of a freelancer. Be prepared: it’s a tough business, with too many people fighting for too few jobs, and there are always bills to pay. You better love the hell outta music to do this.

Behind the Musik: Vivaldi con amore

Download the Program Notes and Program Listing

PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

The most popular composer for the violin, as well as player on that instrument, during these times, was Don Antonio Vivaldi . . . if acute and rapid tones are evils, Vivaldi has much of the sin to answer for.

— Charles Burney, A General History of Music (1789)

The famous Vivaldi, whom they call the Prete Rosso [the Red-Haired Priest], very well known for his concertos, was a topping man among them at Venice.

 — Mr. Wright, in his Travels through Italy (1720–22)

Such contemporary accounts show us that the appeal of Vivaldi’s music in his own time was comparable with its great popularity today. Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678, and received his early education from his father, a violinist employed at St. Mark’s. In 1703 Antonio was ordained a priest, and in 1704 was appointed as a violin teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà. A few years later he was also named maestro de’ concerti and took over direction of the Pietà orchestra.

The Pietà, founded in 1346, was one of four Venetian institutions for children who had been orphaned, or whose parents were unable to care for them. At some point during the history of the Pietà, its charges became exclusively female. Musical education became an important part of the curriculum, and by the end of the seventeenth century, the Pietà had virtually become a sort of conservatory of music, its concerts enjoying enormous prestige and popularity.

Vivaldi was to remain an employee of the Pietà until his death in 1741, and during his tenure supplied the orchestra with a wealth of instrumental concertos, several hundred in all. Many of the concertos were published by Roger in Amsterdam for circulation throughout Europe; others were circulated in manuscript form by travelling musicians. As his fame spread, Vivaldi started to receive commissions for works from abroad: he wrote many works for the brilliant court orchestra at Dresden, and had close ties with musicians in Vienna. Equally renowned as an opera composer, his many opera sinfonias complete his orchestral output.

The constant demand for concertos inspired Vivaldi to turn to instruments not usually given solo roles in the orchestra. Included in his worklist are, for example, no fewer than 40 concertos for bassoon, and several for one or two oboes. For his own instrument, the violin, he wrote over 250 solo concertos, and numerous concertos for two, three, and four violins. Occasionally Vivaldi added descriptive titles, such as the violin concertos “L’amoroso” and “Amato bene,” which inspired our own title of this week’s concerts. The form and spirit of Vivaldi’s concertos were to provide the model for the late baroque instrumental concerto both in Italy and abroad, and to delight listeners far and wide.


PROGRAM LISTING

Directed by Elisa Citterio

October 10–14, 2018
Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

October 16, 2018
George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts

 Antonio Vivaldi
1678–1741

Sinfonia to Ottone in villa, RV 729
Allegro – Larghetto – Allegro

Concerto for violin in C Minor, RV 761 “Amato bene”
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Elisa Citterio violin

Concerto for bassoon in D Minor, RV 481
Allegro – Larghetto – Allegro molto
Dominic Teresi bassoon

Concerto for 2 oboes in C Major, RV 534
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
John Abberger & Marco Cera oboes

INTERMISSION

Concerto for violin in E Major, RV 271 “L’amoroso”
Allegro – Cantabile – Allegro
Elisa Citterio violin

Concerto for lute in D Major, RV 93
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Lucas Harris lute

Concerto for 4 violins in B-flat Major, RV 553
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Elisa Citterio, Cristina Zacharias, Patricia Ahern & Geneviève Gilardeau violins

Concerto for 2 oboes & 2 violins in D Major, RV 564a
Allegro – Adagio non molto – Allegro
John Abberger &  Marco Cera oboes
Elisa Citterio & Julia Wedman violins


Elisa and the orchestra will be heading to Humbercrest United Church later this month to record the music from this week’s concerts. The resulting CD, Vivaldi con amore, will be our first with Elisa as Music Director. Stay tuned for news of its release later this season.

If you would like to sponsor a concerto, or learn more about how you can support this recording project, please contact Ania Kordiuk at (416) 964-9562 x 223 or akordiuk@tafelmusik.org.

Harlequin Blog Series: Marco Meets Ghezzi

By Sarah Baumann, Marketing Director

One of the most-anticipated concerts of our 2018/19 season is the world premiere of The Harlequin Salon in January 2019. Following on the success of the multimedia performances created by double bassist Alison Mackay, these concerts will be created, scripted, and illustrated by oboist Marco Cera. We’ll be writing a monthly Harlequin blog post to take you behind the scenes as this production comes to life!

Marco moved from Italy to Toronto to play with Tafelmusik from 2000–2002 and rejoined the orchestra in January 2007. A passionate painter (Marco studied figurative art at Liceo Artistico Citta’ di Valdagno in Italy), as well as multi-instrumentalist, he first encountered the sketches of Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674–1755) as references. “Ghezzi left behind more than 4,000 drawings depicting Roman society from the baroque era. These have become important for musicians now,” he explains. “They provide a great deal of detail on the musical instruments, hairstyles, furniture, posture, and lifestyle of musicians from the time.”

Ghezzi was an Italian artist who was probably the world’s first professional caricaturist. Marco points out that the word “caricature” comes from the Italian “caricare” or “to load, overload, exaggerate.” Caricatures exaggerate the features of the person in the portrait in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

Ghezzi was an enthusiastic music lover, who held exclusive musical salons at his palazzo for a “who’s who” of Roman intellectuals and artists. His most well-known portrait is the famous caricature of Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi by Pier Leone Ghezzi

Marco started to research the composers that Ghezzi would have met and sketched, starting with Vivaldi. He dreamed up a salon that would feature several of these personalities: Vivaldi, the famous prima donna Faustina Bordoni, and renowned cellist Giovanni Bononcini. The concert started to take shape: recreate one of Ghezzi’s famous salon evenings for the Tafelmusik audience, and imagine what happens (and what music results) when these famous characters from the time meet!

Marco Cera looking at a Ghezzi sketch

This blog series will continue in October, November and December. Stay tuned!

The Harlequin Salon premieres January 16-20, 2019 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Click here to buy your tickets now

The Charm and Innovation of Boccherini

By Allen Whear, violoncello

On October 3 & 6 a chamber group of Tafelmusik musicians will perform Quintessential Boccherini as part of our Close Encounters series. We asked Tafelmusik cellist Allen Whear to share his thoughts on the appeal of Boccherini and the importance of the composer’s work for the cello.

The French violinist Cartier once wrote, “If God wished to speak to man through music, he would choose Haydn. If He wanted to listen to the music himself, he would choose Boccherini.”

Boccherini isn’t as popular as Haydn or Mozart, but those who know his music well are passionate about it. I’d say he is the most sensuous composer of the eighteenth century. He exploited the colours and textures of string instruments like no other, lavishing his music with gentler expression marks such as soave, dolcissimo, amoroso. But this doesn’t mean that his music lacks backbone—he strikes a balance between charm and innovation.

Allen Whear paying homage to Boccherini
Allen Whear paying homage to Boccherini

A virtuoso cellist himself, Boccherini’s writing is unfailingly natural for the instrument. He even created an art form, the quintet for two cellos, so that he could perform along with a resident string quartet in Spain, and he treated each of the parts equally. His technical achievements on the cello, as evidenced in his writing, surpass all his contemporaries, but he never seems to have been about showing himself off, but rather creating memorable sounds and effects. You will sometimes see the cello playing higher than the violin, something that never happens in traditional string quartets.

Quintessential Boccherini will include three quintets of strongly contrasting character:  The Quintet in D Major is florid, elegant, and often humorous, the Quintet in G Minor is dark and passionate, and the famous Fandango has a slow-burning, sexy buildup, the likes of which one finds these days in the work of famous tango composer Astor Piazzola.

Children in Madrid (photo by Allen Whear)

Consider the fact that Ravel’s Bolero was originally titled Fandango. The fandango may have had its roots in the New World, imported to Europe by way of the Iberian peninsula. Traditionally a sensual couple’s dance in triple meter and related to flamenco, the fandango reached a peak of popularity in Spain in the eighteenth century, but was also known in other parts of Europe and the Americas. Harmonically, it is simpler than the Folia (one of Europe’s oldest and most-used musical themes), with a bass that mostly alternates between tonic and dominant and a characteristic descent at the end of phrases (in D Minor: D-C-B-flat-A). It may take two to tango, but it takes five to fandango!

Quintessential Boccherini takes place October 3 at Holy Trinity Church and October 6 at Temerty Theatre in the TELUS Centre. Click here for details and to buy tickets.

A Fond Farewell to Carol Campbell

After 32 remarkable seasons at Tafelmusik as Front-of-House, Volunteer, and Events Manager, Carol Campbell is retiring. Former Managing Director Tricia Baldwin worked with Carol from 2000–2014, and offers these reflections. We all join her in wishing Carol the very best!

Carol Campbell, 2018

Confucius said, “To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue. These five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”  Kindness isn’t “niceness”; it is a thoughtful approach to humanity as it is a life discipline. This life-long discipline has been Carol Campbell’s modus operandi throughout her three decades at Tafelmusik. It is this kindness that really set the bar at Tafelmusik, and it clearly glows throughout the volunteer team as it has the entire Tafelmusik family. Carol has a beautiful, intuitive way of approaching people, while having the mind of a traffic cop in walking every event through beforehand so that not even the tiniest of details is overlooked. That’s because she cares so much and has the discipline to think things through.

Carol has a beautiful way of guiding from the centre, whether it is with her family or with Tafelmusik’s wonderful volunteers and staff colleagues. She, like the Tafelmusik musicians, has a quest and urgency for excellence, an amazing work ethic, real spunk, and doesn’t rest until things are done right.

I have rarely seen a person who has such loving conflict resolution skills. I remember when a clearly agitated man came into the sanctuary yelling and swearing during the intermission of a concert. I saw Carol approach this man. He trusted her right away and followed her out of the hall.  I asked her what she had said and done. She said, “He was hungry, so I gave him a cookie.” Just another example of why Carol is loved so much by the Tafelmusik family.

Volunteer Reception, September 2018

Now Carol is entering the next adventure in life. She loves her family and is a devoted wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend. I wish Carol all great things ahead, and may she be touched by the kindness and love that she has shown all of us for so many years. And remember Carol, it’s in the fine print: no one’s heart ever really leaves Tafelmusik. It’s just the way it is.

By Tricia Baldwin