When NOW Magazine launched a quarter-century ago, wa-a-a-y back in 1981, folks scoffed at the implausibility of a bunch of lefty renegades creating a lasting legacy. Guess we proved 'em wrong.
And while most people these days wouldn't necessarily consider the rarefied world of baroque music in the same counterculture category as indie alt-media, Jeanne Lamon , who's also marking her 25th year as music director and virtuoso violinist for internationally renowned local baroque orchestra Tafelmusik , says she and her orchestra were written off as radicals when she first signed on.
"In those days it was very much a fringe thing," offers the soft-spoken musician from a tour stop in Saskatoon. "Early reviews referred to us as beatniks. At the time, you could hear baroque music, but it was very rarely played on period instruments. It sounded so staid! We turned it upside-down by performing on the instruments people had written it on. It felt rebellious!"
Today, Lamon explains, enough artists are playing works from the period between 1650 and 1750 the way they were heard in that era that the approach has become mainstream -- and quite popular.
In Tafelmusik's case, Lamon can take tons of credit for raising the orchestra's profile through the roof. Since the New York-bred violinist left a nomadic life as a baroque freelancer and university instructor to lead T.O.'s then two year old orchestra in 1981, Tafelmusik has released over 70 CDs, embarked on countless tours and won an impressive number of Junos -- and even scored a Grammy nomination.
Lamon herself has been honoured with scads of awards, including an appointment to the Order of Canada in 2000 and the Roy Thomson Hall Award for Exceptional Achievement in Music, which she received this year.
As well, Lamon's helped launch forward-thinking initiatives like the Face The Musik program (which attracts a younger crowd by offering cut-rate tickets to 18-to-30-year-olds), the Baroque Summer Institute at U of T and interdisciplinary endeavours like January's Bach And The Muses series, which combines Tafel tunes with poetry and visual art.
This month, Lamon leads Tafelmusik in another innovative effort, performances of Mozart's Magic Flute in collaboration with Opera Atelier, kicking off November 17 at the Elgin Theatre. Check out www.tafelmusik.org for complete info and further details.