Tafelmusik | Staircases
March 22, 2024 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
One event on March 23, 2024 at 8:00 pm
One event on March 24, 2024 at 3:00 pm
“It’s no wonder so many of Mackay’s creations have been performed for audiences around the world—there’s really nothing like them” (The Globe and Mail).
A pinnacle of our 45th-anniversary season is Staircases, a new creation by Alison Mackay, whose award-winning multimedia programs have enhanced Tafelmusik’s reputation for artistic innovation. The concert is designed in collaboration with the acclaimed American bass-baritone and composer Jonathan Woody, who acts as narrator, singer, and creator of a new work.
Through words, stunning images, and music by Lully, Purcell, Handel, Platti, Bach, Vivaldi, and Woody directed from the violin by Tafelmusik’s Julia Wedman, the program explores journeys on staircases and the concepts they represented.
In the age of baroque music, staircases were scenes of dramatic ceremony, public piety, and colourful urban commerce. So much more than architectural conveniences, they became theatres of power, markers of status, settings for musical performances, and avenues for slavery and freedom.
At the Palace of Versailles, the Ambassadors’ Staircase was designed to humble diplomats and dazzle visitors with the work of builders, painters, and the musicians who performed there on ceremonial occasions.
Meanwhile, on Pickle Herring Stairs in London, Thames watermen unloaded cargo boats and met passengers to ferry them to parliament at Westminster or an evening at the Dorset Garden Theatre. Entering the theatre by water steps, the audience would have heard the tunes of river ballads and popular dances echoed in the music of Henry Purcell.
The history of baroque culture is entwined with that of the Atlantic slave trade. Men, women, and children were forced to descend staircases to slave ships. Only a fraction of these escaped, ascending staircases to the promise of freedom.
Join us for a powerful journey into the remarkable cultural symbolism of staircases.
Staircases will be filmed for future digital broadcast.
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