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PREVIEW | Tafelmusik’s Staircases Blends Baroque With New Music, Poetry And Images

By Anya Wassenberg on March 4, 2024

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Photo: Dahlia Katz)

Staircases, an original program and multimedia performance, will be one of the highlights of Tafelmusik’s 45th season. The program was created by Alison Mackay, and incorporates two new works by composer and bass-baritone Jonathan Woody.

The performances, which incorporate poetry and images along with the music, will take place March 22, 23 and 24.

Alison Mackay & Staircases

Along with innovative programming, Alison Mackay is a musician who’s performed on the violone and double bass with Tafelmusik from 1979 until 2019. She was a member of Toronto Consort for several years through the 1970s and 1980s. She is the recipient of the 2013 Betty Webster Award for her contribution to orchestral life in Canada.

Alison has created several imaginative programs for Tafelmusik over the years. In 2019, her multimedia project Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House, toured the United States after a successful run in Toronto. That performance project wove Classical Arabic music with European, and put the music into a historical and social context, something her productions become known for.

In Staircases, she begins with music and the idea of staircases. There is the music that was performed on the staircases of Versailles in Paris in January 1749. In London, around the same time, there were staircases leading from the streets down to the banks of the river Thames where music would be performed for passersby.

The staircase becomes an idea that opens up a way to connect different pieces of music.

The program includes pieces by Lully, Purcell, Handel, Platti, Bach, and Vivaldi along with Woody’s new compositions.

L-R: Jonathan Woody; Alison Mackay (Photos courtesy of the artists)
L-R: Jonathan Woody; Alison Mackay (Photos courtesy of the artists)

Jonathan Woody

Jonathan Woody is the composer of the new music that will be premiered at the performance, and will also serve as narrator for the performance.

American bass-baritone and composer Jonathan Woody holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

As a soloist, Woody performs with several ensembles and events specializing in period music, including the Boston Early Music Festival, Pacific MusicWorks, and New York Baroque Incorporated, among others. He was the Artistic Advisor for Portland Baroque Orchestra for the 2021-2022 season.

Chamber music is another of his passions. He is a frequent performer with the GRAMMY®-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street.

As a composer, he takes inspiration from the music of the 17th and 18th centuries, while incorporating elements of minimalism and socially conscious subject matter. Commissions include Chanticleer, the Handel and Haydn Society, Cathedral Choral Society of Washington, D.C., and many others.

Jonathan is currently based on traditional Lenape lands, now known as Brooklyn.

Julia Wedman will direct the performance from the violin.

  • More information about the concert, and tickets available [HERE].

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