The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir announced a 2014-2015 season on Wednesday which is a milestone for the organization in many ways. The season will see the Toronto-based orchestra present some favourite works, renew an acquaintance with an old collaborator, premiere a new Canadian composition and both revive one of its famed multimedia productions and introduce a new one. But perhaps most importantly, it's using the season to test-drive candidates who may be in the running to replace the departing Jeanne Lamon as music director of the orchestra, when that choice is finally made in a year or so.
The collaborator is famed conductor Kent Nagano, current music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, who will be leading the orchestra in an all-Beethoven performance in January of 2015 that will include the Fifth Symphony and the Mass in C Major. Tafelmusik has worked with Nagano before, in Montreal and abroad, but this will be their first joint appearance in Toronto. It should make for an exciting evening of music.
The new Canadian composition will be by Michael Oesterle and will be part of an April program called "Baroque Misbehaving" led by Aisslinn Nosky, a long-time and exciting member of the Tafelmusik band. Nosky's program also includes music by Purcell, Charpentier and Telemann. And another Tafelmusik veteran, bassist Alison Mackay, will be represented by two of the wonderfully thoughtful multimedia extravaganzas she so beautifully conceives for the orchestra. Her award-winning House of Dreams will be presented once again at Trinity-St. Paul's in February, and a new production led by Jeanne Lamon, J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation, will premiere in May. Mackay's quiet creativity gets more and more powerful with each outing. The Bach spectacle should be interesting. Another Bach highlight in the season will be a performance of the other Passion, the one according to St. John, which Tafelmusik Chamber Choir director Ivars Taurins will lead in March.
But the most interesting part of next year's Tafelmusik season may be the several guest directors who have been invited to lead the orchestra during the year. Interesting, because Tafelmusik is in the midst of a process to replace Lamon as leader of the group, and while Tafelmusik brass will not say one way or another if any specific artist is on their short list, they have made it clear that they want potential candidates to have a chance to play with the orchestra before the hiring process is complete. Sort of the musical equivalent of living together before getting married. So, we'll likely be paying special attention to the varied and interesting concert programs led by violinists/guest directors Rodolfo Richter, Davide Monti, Pavlo Beznosiuk and Amandine Beyer next season, all well-known soloists and leaders in the authentic-music world. Not all of these musicians may be candidates for Lamon's job, but some most likely are.
You might expect Tafelmusik to be taking things a bit easy now that they are firmly settled in their lovely, newly renovated hall at Trinity-St. Paul's. But the future is full of challenges and opportunities for this fine group. Yet as they head into uncharted waters, they seem to have a firm hand on the tiller.