House of Dreams

Tafelmusik in Banff

From the Banff premiere of House of Dreams. Left to right: Aisslinn Nosky, violin; Christina Zacharias, violin; Geneviève Gilardeau, violin; Christina Mahler, cello; in the background: Charlotte Nediger, harpsichord; seated: Blair Williams, actor. On the screen: paintings by Vermeer.. (Photo: Donald Lee)

None of the arts exists in isolation.  While I can go to an art gallery and see paintings or sculpture by an artist, those works came from a person who ate, drank, and slept.  Chances are they read books, saw plays and operas, socialized with their friends who may also have been artists, musicians or writers.

But our classical concert practice doesn’t usually honour that richness.  We go into darkened & hushed rooms to hear music without reference to the cultural influences that not only inspired those creations, but also may be indispensable in decoding them so many years later.

This week Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra will give the Toronto premiere of a new creation, co-produced with the Banff Centre, gathering together an intriguing combination of images and sounds unlike anything I’ve seen before.  “House of Dreams” is a concert that combines the music that might have been heard at a particular time & place, with the pictures that could be seen in there as well.

Alison Mackay, previously creator of the Galileo Project (another concert experience that helped illuminate music in a cultural context for Tafelmusik) is again bringing her special vision to the fore.

In her interview (though this part didn’t make the final cut), Alison Mackay makes it clear she doesn’t feel that great music needs “dressing up”:

“It’s not by any means that I think our music needs that [combining it with images and a script]. I love ‘old-fashioned’ concerts and I’m glad that’s mainly what we do, but it does allow us to turn a different lens on our music.”

Perhaps it makes sense that in a time when music is so ubiquitous that one can take one’s music just about anywhere (carrying hundreds of symphonies inside a tiny device), that we’re investigating the circumstances for the ambient listening experiences of people living long ago.

For a more detailed overview, have a look at Mackay’s programme notes.

House of Dreams:  Wed Feb 8 at 7pm
Thurs Feb 9, Fri Feb 10, Sat Feb 11 at 8pm; Sun Feb 12 at 3:30pm
Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre 416.964.6337

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