June 8, 2009

Toronto - and Tafelmusik

Why this entry starts with a bit of house music may be a question....on Saturday, the third day of this workshop, I left a chamber music rehearsal and followed the sounds of some amazing African drumming - which came from Queen's Park, one block away from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. Stumbling upon a small international drumming festival - complete with Orisha music being played onstage - I realized that this is definitely an exciting time to be in Toronto, with many things happening including the Luminato Festival and the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute.

Now into day five of the Institute, I do find myself fascinated, amazed, inspired, and of course, humbled - the latter not only because I'm here and because of having received such generous support from both the Haight Bursary Fund and the Alternate ROOTS Artistic Assistance Program, which is made possible by funds from the Ford Foundation, but also because I am now truly becoming aware of the extent of Tafelmusik's reach across the globe and the growing number of musicians who are actively studying Baroque performance practice worldwide. Students have come to this institute from the United States, Canada (of course), Puerto Rico, Honduras, and Russia (and I was just told that there has been a Baroque performance program at the Moscow Conservatory for the past fifteen years).

There is a LOT of work to be done on my end: while I was aware of that before coming here I do have to say that playing with neither a chinrest or a shoulder rest is definitely a challenge; however, what I'm discovering is that to play without these devices one has to be very aware of one's body, and very "free" (that freedom meaning not falling into the physical traps that can, should one not be aware of one's physical apparatus, come with modern violin playing).

Nevertheless, while dealing with those challenges I have to say that I do feel that I've done the right thing by coming here for these two weeks.

On Friday night we were able to attend a concert by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, tenor Rufus Muller and soprano Ann Monoyios. This concert took place at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, an historic church in the Annex neighborhood of Toronto, and while it was indeed enlightening and fantastic, I have to say that I was incredibly impressed by the fact that there was a line at the door for this one - a line that went back about two city blocks on each side...

More from the road,

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