Tapestry pays it forward

Tapestry Opera receives gift of $225,000 Bösendorfer piano; ‘pays it forward’ with disaster relief concert on October 25

Opera and jazz greats unite to inaugurate “the Stradivarius of pianos” with proceeds to benefit relief efforts across the world

(Toronto, ON) – Tapestry Opera has received a historic and transformational gift with the donation of a 9.5-foot Imperial Bösendorfer 290 Concert Grand Piano, one of the most highly sought-after concert pianos in the world and one of only 12 in Canada. Valued at $225,000, the piano was privately donated in September by Clarence Byrd and Ida Chen, marking one of the most significant gift of a piano to a performing arts organization in Toronto’s history. To inaugurate the instrument and celebrate its public debut as part of the musical community, Tapestry Opera will hold a disaster relief concert on Oct. 25, 2017 at the Earnest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District, featuring many greats of the Toronto opera and jazz scenes.

In honour of the monumental generosity shown by Byrd and Chen—and as a way to pay it forward—Tapestry Opera will present two concerts on the evening of Oct. 25th to benefit disaster relief efforts around the world, specifically those underway in Puerto Rico, Dominica, Mexico and India. All proceeds will be donated to the Medecins san Frontieres and Global Medic, who are working to rescue, support and rebuild the lives of millions affected by recent extreme weather events.

The Bösendorfer Imperial is widely regarded as the world’s premier concert grand piano (with its signature extra half-octave of keys). With its recent arrival to the city, the piano will be among the most valuable instruments publicly available for use to musicians and concert producers in Toronto, adding the Ernest Balmer Studio to a short list of destination classical and jazz music venues in the city. During a technically demanding installation process, the piano was carefully lifted by crane through the third-storey window of its new home in Tapestry Opera’s Ernest Balmer studio, capturing the attention of onlookers in the Distillery District.

“This is a momentous gift for our creative and performing arts community,” said Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera. “By making world-class instruments available to the public, we are able to support a whole new generation of exciting artistic achievements. It also puts the Distillery District on the map as Toronto’s newest destination for jazz and classical chamber music, which is especially significant at a time when live music venues are vanishing.”

Toronto’s brightest young opera stars will unite in a performance of favourite arias and scenes, including selections from musical theatre. Featuring soprano Simone Osborne, mezzo-soprano Erica Iris Huang, tenors Asitha Tennekoon and Keith Klassen, baritone Alexander Hajek and others, the two-hour concert will take place at 7 p.m., with tickets priced at $30.

A late-night concert of piano greats presented by Yamaha Canada will follow at 10:00 p.m., featuring jazz legend Robi Botos and classical concert virtuoso Younggun Kim. This concert will mark the first opportunity to hear two of Toronto’s most gifted pianists grace the Imperial Bösendorfer. Tickets are $30.

Tickets for both performances are available at www.tapestryopera.com.

“There is a deeply felt sense of civic duty and community spirit within Toronto’s cultural landscape, and we were overwhelmed when our single Facebook post to solicit participation generated such an incredible response from artists willing to donate their time and talent,” said Mori. “Tapestry is honoured to be in a position to facilitate something so meaningful and inspiring. It’s also a fitting way to introduce our wonderful new instrument to the community – one act of generosity begetting another.”

Tapestry Opera is grateful for the visionary generosity of Clarence Byrd and Ida Chen, and the gracious support of Robert Lowrey Pianos, Wayne Strongman, O.C., and Yamaha Canada.

Clarence Byrd and Ida Chen reside in Ottawa, and over the past 40 years have written over 150 books on accounting and tax, widely used both by students and professionals. In addition, Mr. Byrd has held positions at a number of Canadian universities. Currently, most of their time is devoted to preparing the annual edition of Canadian Tax Principles, the most widely used university text on taxation.

Both Clarence and Ida spent many years studying piano. In addition, Clarence played professionally for a number of years. While they no longer have an appropriate home for the Bösendorfer, they have several other pianos and try to spend some time each day playing.

Tapestry Opera is a Toronto-based company that creates and produces opera from the heart of here and now. For 38 years, the company has presented award-winning works by preeminent artists, brought to life by some of the most talented and versatile performers of the contemporary stage. As Canada’s leader in opera development, Tapestry Opera is committed to cultivating new creators and performers to serve the evolution of the art form and build a lasting Canadian repertoire.



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