Symphony celebrates 60th with Tafelmusik

The best of baroque music will soon grace the Cowichan Valley.

The best of baroque music will soon grace the Cowichan Valley.

On March 6, the Cowichan Symphony Society welcomes the return of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra as it plays House of Dreams, a symphonic journey through the artistic and musical history of Europe.

“This is our 60th anniversary, our 60th jubilee year, and this is one of the special concerts that we’ve put together this year. It’s great to have these people here, wonderful. It’s the best baroque orchestra probably in North America,” said Ted Rhodes, president of the Cowichan Symphony Society, noting the program is similar to that performed by Tafelmusik in Duncan several years ago.

“They had a huge response from the audience,” he recalled.

House of Dreams is a virtual tour through five private homes where great masterpieces of baroque art were displayed on the walls and brilliant music was performed by the leading composers and instrumentalists of the day. The show includes stage direction, narration, and stunning projected images. The five historical houses are all still in existence and the project is a collaboration with their present owners and administrators.

Conducted by Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik’s virtuoso performers will play completely from memory from music staged by Canadian baroque theatre expert Marshal Pynkoski whose work was recently presented at the Palace of Versailles near Paris.

The title of the concert comes from the House of Dreams in Book 11 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In the course of the performance, dreams enter the houses in many guises, first during Handel’s music for the “Entrance of the agreeable dreams” from his opera Alcina, which was premiered April 16, 1735 at Covent Garden.

Artwork from various artistic giants of the time will adorn the show as the audience gets a look at the passion for art found in many of their favourite composers such as George Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, Johann Bach and George Telemann. Ten months after Handel’s death, an auction catalogue of 80 paintings and 64 engravings from his private collection was published. This document came to light in 1985 and revealed Handel to have been a dedicated and sophisticated collector of works by artists including Antoine Watteau, Marco Ricci, Canaletto and Rembrandt.

As the audience enjoys the blend of music and art, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra recreates the musical form of the era. Most of the 17-musician orchestra stands for the performance and plays on period instruments, taking the audience back in time for the hour-and-one-half show.

“It’s staged like a theatrical show,” Rhodes explained.

Tafelmusik is internationally renowned and has performed from China to Australia.

“They’ve performed all over the world,” Rhodes said. “Just to have them here is amazing.”

Tafelmusik’s House of Dreams takes place Sunday, March 6 at            2 p.m. at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. For tickets and information visit www.cow or call 250-748-7529.

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