Tafelmusik names new Music Director: violinist Elisa Citterio

Toronto, January 26, 2017 … Helen Polatajko, Chair of the Board of Directors of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, is thrilled to announce the appointment of the “superb” (The Guardian) Italian violinist Elisa Citterio* to the position of Music Director. The unanimous choice of the orchestra and search committee, Citterio is renowned for her stunning virtuoso performances on baroque violin and her innovative approach to period performance. She succeeds Jeanne Lamon, whose remarkable 33-year tenure paved the way for Tafelmusik to become “one of the world’s top baroque orchestras” (Gramophone).

Milan-based Citterio immediately becomes Tafelmusik’s Music Director Designate and will fully assume her new role in July 2017, taking up full-time residence in Toronto along with her family. She divides her artistic life between orchestral work, including her former role as concertmaster and soloist with the orchestra of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, and an intense schedule as a chamber musician.


Violinist Elisa Citterio, Tafelmusik’s new Music Director (photo: Monica Cardiviola)

Citterio has recorded and toured, often as leader or concertmaster, with such ensembles as Dolce & Tempesta, Europa Galante, Accademia Bizantina, Accordone, Zefiro, la Venexiana, La Risonanza, Ensemble 415, Concerto Italiano, Orquestra del Monsalvat, Il Giardino Armonico, and Orchestra Academia 1750. She has been a member of the Orchestra del Teatro della Scala di Milano since 2004.

Elisa collaborates closely with harpsichordist Stefano Demicheli in duo, and with violinist Stefano Montanari in their quartet, Estravagante, and will perform with both artists in Italy this summer. Upcoming highlights include concerts with Cecilia Bartoli, and a solo recital of Bach violin sonatas and partitas in Merano, Italy.

“After an extensive worldwide search, the musicians of Tafelmusik are delighted to welcome Elisa Citterio as our next Music Director.  We have all found the search process to be an incredibly rewarding experience, enabling us to work with many of the world’s finest musicians in our field,” said Tafelmusik oboist John Abberger. “Elisa is an outstanding violinist who combines great virtuosity with deep musical knowledge and a warm and dynamic personality on stage.  She immediately established an exceptional rapport with the orchestra, and the musicians are thrilled to have found such an inspiring and collaborative leader,” he said.

“It is with immense joy and excitement that I accept the position of Music Director of the extraordinary Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir. First of all, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the entire Tafelmusik organization for the faith it has placed in me, and I’d especially like to thank Jeanne Lamon for her tremendous artistic leadership over the past three decades,” said Elisa Citterio.

“I’m incredibly honoured to take on this role, which gives me the privilege of working with such brilliant musicians. I’m fascinated by the possibility of exchange between our two countries, which are geographically distant, but which music unites through a shared language. I love the fact that we will be able to learn from each other and intertwine our distinct cultures and music without the need for words. I look forward to working with Canadian musicians and composers, and am eager to get to know Tafelmusik’s audiences in Toronto and on tour,” she said.

As Music Director, Citterio will be responsible for Tafelmusik’s overall artistic leadership including concert planning, touring, recording, education, and artist training. With a keen interest in contemporary compositions for period instruments, Citterio will continue Tafelmusik’s commitment to working with Canadian musicians and composers.

“The appointment of Elisa Citterio is a truly pivotal moment for Tafelmusik. It heralds the start of an exciting new chapter for us, as only the second Music Director in the orchestra’s 38-year history, and following the incredible legacy left for her by Jeanne Lamon,” said Managing Director William Norris. “The search was an exciting and invigorating process, and confirmed the reputation that Tafelmusik holds not just at home, but internationally. Elisa joins us at a time when we are seeking to further expand our reach, through attracting new audiences at home and also internationally through our busy touring schedule. Her artistic vision, dynamism, charisma, and collaborative approach are the perfect fit for us, and we can’t wait to have her start with us.”

Elisa Citterio made her Tafelmusik debut as guest director and violin soloist in November 2015 with Baroque Masters, a program that explored Italian, French, and German 18th-century musical styles. She was immediately invited to return, and in September 2016 directed the opening concerts of Tafelmusik’s 2016/17 season at Koerner Hall. The program featured Handel’s Water Music and orchestral movements from Rameau’s opera-ballet Les indes galantes. The performance was hailed as “stylish, playful and filled with the spirit of movement, light and pleasure” (The Globe and Mail).

Tafelmusik’s formal selection process began in early 2013 and was undertaken by a committee consisting of Tafelmusik musicians, board members, administrative staff, and community representatives under the guidance of international search consultant Margaret Genovese of the Toronto-based firm Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates. Together they lay the groundwork for the appointment of a music director who is an international-calibre soloist specializing in period performance and a leader who directs the orchestra while playing. Over a three-year period, the search committee identified potential candidates from Canada and beyond and invited suggestions from the public, as well as from a wide range of baroque music experts.

Andy Kenins, head of the Search Committee and past Chair of Tafelmusik’s Board of Directors said, “Tafelmusik’s artist-focused mandate and commitment to excellence and innovation have been of paramount importance throughout the painstaking process that led to Elisa’s appointment. Succession planning has been in the works for many years, and for the past decade Tafelmusik has been working with a wide range of Canadian and international guest directors in order to build the musicians’ flexibility and offer them the opportunity to explore a variety of different musical and personal styles,” he said. “Elisa brings exceptional leadership skills. She is an original and innovative thinker who has a remarkable ability to convey new ideas through music.”
Under the artistic leadership of Jeanne Lamon from 1981 to 2014, Tafelmusik has become one of Canada’s most successful international performing arts organizations. She recently assumed the role of Music Director Emerita and will continue to maintain an active role with the Orchestra, including appearances in Tafelmusik’s Toronto season and involvement in Artist Training programs such as the Summer and Winter Institutes.

Ms. Lamon hailed the appointment of Elisa Citterio, saying, “I have always maintained that the position of Music Director of Tafelmusik is the best job in the world, and I congratulate Elisa on her appointment. Attracting a music director of her calibre will greatly contribute to the artistic development of our musicians, and with Elisa at the helm, I’m excited and confident about Tafelmusik’s future. I am truly proud of what Tafelmusik has become, honoured to have been a part of such a wonderful group of musicians, and delighted to pass the torch on to Elisa.”

Ms. Polatajko added,Tafelmusik’s vision is to be an international centre of musical excellence in period performance, and it is one of the top orchestras of its kind that performs, tours, records, and trains, reaching out to audiences throughout Canada and beyond. I would like to thank the Search Committee, whose painstaking work over the past three years has resulted in the appointment of Elisa Citterio — a musician and leader with a wide range of top-tier experience in solo performance, chamber music, orchestral repertoire, and opera, as well as artist training. Her international reputation is a real asset to the orchestra’s future development in these areas. Finally, we are incredibly grateful to Jeanne Lamon for more than three decades of magnificent work as Music Director.”

Toronto audiences will have the opportunity to see Elisa Citterio in concert May 4 to 7, 2017, when she returns to direct Tafelmusik’s debut performances of Haydn’s Symphony no. 98 in B-flat Major at Koerner Hall — part of the Mozart Mass in C Minor concerts that close the 2016/17 season.

*Pronunciation guide: Citterio [chee TEH ree oh]

This is a musician who thinks.”  —The Globe and Mail

Uccellini’s Bergamasca showcased the group’s [Concerto Italiano] superb violinists, Elisa Citterio and Nicholas Robinson, who traded their lines with the loose spontaneity of folk fiddlers.” —The Guardian

The performance by first violinist Elisa Citterio, lutenist Tiziano Bagnati, and cellist Marco Frezzato was a masterclass in how to play together.” — translated from Classic Voice

Elisa Citterio … tackled the endlessly unfolding, seemingly unstoppable invention of Uccellini’s Bergamasca with infectious enthusiasm.”  — The Scotsman

There was no mistaking the electricity of the occasion, generated by Elisa Citterio, violin, and –at least for tonight—the leader of the orchestra. The chemistry I saw and heard and felt is surely something Tafelmusik will want to experience again.” — Barcza Blog

From the outset, it was apparent that both Citterio and the Tafelmusik Orchestra were simpatico.” —Eatock Daily

She brought energy and joy to each of the works on the program inspiring brilliant ensemble playing by our world renowned baroque orchestra. Her own playing in solo passages was stunningly beautiful.” —Toronto Concert Reviews
Elisa Citterio was born in Brescia, Italy, in 1975 and grew up in a musical family: her mother and brother are composers and her two sisters are professional musicians. Elisa began playing piano and violin as a pre-schooler, and as a teenager played baroque sonatas with her mother and sister.  At sixteen she began formal studies in violin and viola at the L. Marenzio Conservatory in Brescia under full scholarship for five consecutive years. During her time at the Conservatory, she won many prizes in national competitions and graduated with the highest honours. She continued her post-graduate studies with Franco Gulli, Corrado Romano, Dora Schwarzberg, Matis Vaitsner, Ilya Grubert, and Dejan Bogdanovich.

In 2000, Citterio was selected as concertmaster and soloist with the orchestra of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, where she received intensive professional training in orchestral and chamber music repertoire, as well as violin technique. She made her debut at La Scala in 2000, playing the solo violin part in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with La Scala’s principal violist Danilo Rossi, under the direction of Stefano Ranzani.

Soon after graduating from the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, she began studying baroque violin technique, taking part in master classes with Enrico Onofri and studying with Chiara Banchini at the Schola Chantorum Basilensis, and with Luigi Mangiocavallo in Rome.

Between 2000 and 2004, Citterio won numerous prestigious orchestral auditions with such orchestras as I Virtuosi, the orchestra of the Opera of Rome, the orchestra of the Arena of Verona, and the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Riccardo Muti.  In 2004, she became a member of the Orchestra of La Scala di Milano.

Citterio’s discography of more than 35 recordings includes Vivaldi concertos with Accademia I Filarmonici; Bach and Vivaldi concertos with Europa Galante; Handel Fireworks with Zefiro; Storie di Napoli with Accordone; Vivaldi The Four Seasons with Brixia Musicalis; Marini sonatas for solo violin with Opera Prima; Handel arias featuring soprano Sandrine Piau, and Corelli concerti grossi, both with Accademia Bizantina; the Goldberg Project, a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations transcribed for string quartet; Handel arias featuring Julia Lezhnieva, and Haydn symphonies, both with Il Giardino Armonico; Monteverdi madrigals with La Venexiana; Schuster quartets with Joachim Quartet; C.P.E. Bach trio sonatas with Helianthus Ensemble; Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony with Orquestra del Monsalvat, and a number of opera recordings with the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala under such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly, Edward Gardner, Daniele Gatti, Daniel Harding, Lorin Maazel, and Riccardo Muti.

For the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, together with Stefano Montanari, Citterio co-chaired the baroque violin studies program at the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado in Milan.


Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, founded in 1979, is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles. In January 2017 the orchestra appointed violinist Elisa Citterio as Music Director, succeeding Jeanne Lamon, who stepped down in 2014 following a remarkable 33-year tenure that began in 1981. Lamon continues her association with Tafelmusik as Music Director Emerita. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. The orchestra performs some 80 concerts each year at home in Toronto, and travels extensively around the world. The choir and orchestra’s multi-platform recording label Tafelmusik Media was launched in January 2012, along with the Watch and Listen site. Tafelmusik’s discography of 80-plus CDs has been recorded on the Sony Classical, CBC Records, Analekta and Tafelmusik Media labels. Since 1991, Tafelmusik has received nine JUNO Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. Tafelmusik is the Baroque Orchestra-in-Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and operates annual artist training programs, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute. Managing Director William Norris joined the Tafelmusik team in 2015.


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