The Theatre of Early Music
Founded by Artistic Director and Conductor Daniel Taylor, the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) are sought-after
interpreters of magnificent yet neglected choral repertoire from four centuries. Their appearances include stunning
a cappella programs, with practices and aesthetics of former ages informing thought-provoking, passionate and
committed reconstructions of music for historical events and major works from the oratorio tradition. Through
their concert performances and recordings, the 10 - 18 solo singers offer a purity and clarity in their sound
which has resulted in invitations from an ever-widening circle of the world’s leading stages. With Daniel Taylor,
the Choir and Orchestra of the TEM are new visitors to the most renowned concert halls and festivals and are
building an exciting discography in partnership with Sony Classical Masterworks.
News and Events
Sony Classical Masterworks has signed Daniel Taylor as an Exclusive Recording Artist.....Read more
IMG Artists to represent Daniel Taylor and the
TEM for select touring projects..... Read more
Mission Statement of the Theatre of Early Music ......Read more
The TEM Choir and Ensemble Caprice in concert
Catch them in Montreal or Toronto!....Read more
Reviews of Schola Cantorum and the Theatre of Early Music performance in Ottawa (Dec 3)......Read more
Juno Nomination for TEM's Latest Release - The Heart’s Refuge .....Read more
TEM with "Daniel Taylor and Deborah York Perform Handel to Perfection" - Carnegie Hall Nov 2011......Read some reviews
TEM perform for the delegates of the International Congress of Human Genetics......Read more
The mission of the Theatre of Early Music is to become a fixture in the rediscovery of early music.
By using only period instruments, original scores, judicious performance practises and appropriate vocal styling,
the TEM seeks to preserve the musical integrity of ancient masterpieces. The distinctive style of the group paired
with the expertise and enthusiasm of the artistic director and conductor, Daniel Taylor, creates captivating
interpretations of magnificent yet neglected works.
The TEM explores the depth and substance of choral and instrumental literature as we share our ideas and passion.
The key aspect involved in the approach of the Theatre of Early Music is revelation: just as in modern-day we have
restored the frescoes of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, so do we hope to reveal the original beauty of ancient works.
Therein we hope to understand, communicate and celebrate this inspirational music.
Welcome to the world of the Theatre of Early Music
The Theatre of Early Music (TEM) records exclusively for Sony Classical Masterworks.
The Theatre of Early Music is an ensemble of some of the world’s finest musicians,
sharing a particular passion for early music. Its formation is the result of a search by instrumentalists and
singers for opportunities that would allow devotion and dedication to enter into the creative process.
The core of the TEM consists of an ensemble based in Canada that is primarily made up of young musicians. Their distinctive
style, coupled with its artistic director Daniel Taylor’s expertise and enthusiasm, leads to captivating readings
of magnificent but often neglected works.
In various combinations, leading international musicians in the field perform
on the platform provided by the Theatre of Early Music in concerts conducted by Daniel Taylor
in its regular series in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, on tours around the world and on recordings.
TEM appear in some thirty concerts every year, recently having performed on stages in France,
Argentina, Brazil, England and China. In recent seasons the TEM led successful North American tours
that culminated with their debut at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall. The calendar also included
collaborations with Dame Emma Kirkby, concerts of Handel’s Coronation Anthems and ancient German music,
as well as tours of Canada, the United States and South America.
Guest artists performing with the TEM include Dame Emma Kirkby, Nancy Argenta, Karina Gauvin, Suzie Leblanc, Carolyn Sampson,
Deborah York, Robin Blaze, James Bowman, Benjamin Butterfield, Charles Daniels, James Gilchrist, Michiel Schrey,
Alexander Dobson, Michael George, Peter Harvey, Daniel Lichti and Stephen Varcoe.
The TEM’s first recording with BIS Records, Leçons de Ténèbres by Couperin, featured Taylor and Blaze and was released in 2005.
The disc was received with critic acclaim: "Beauty of this recording bows to no other."
This disc was followed in February 2006 by another BIS Records album featuring an original program of works from
the Renaissance entitled Love Bade Me Welcome. The program presented the actor Ralph Fiennes reciting poetry as
well as duets with counter-tenors James Bowman and Daniel Taylor. Critics unanimously praised "the legendary counter-tenor
James Bowman in the magical duets with remarkable young star Daniel Taylor." In 2009, the TEM released
Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater with BIS records, which also featured Bach's setting of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater featuring
Dame Emma Kirkby.
The Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music has released a dozen CDs so far, and now records exclusively for
Sony Classical Masterworks. The best-selling debut disc on the Sony label entitled The Voice of Bach was praised in Gramophone
Magazine as “serious music-making of the highest order”. The disc received five stars from both BBC Music Magazine and Classic Music CD,
was featured on BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” and received acclaim worldwide including reviews from the Times (London),
the Globe and Mail (Toronto), the New York Times, the Guardian (London) and La Scena Musicale (Montreal). The TEM’s latest Sony disc,
Come Again Sweet Love, was also very well received.
The TEM became a registered non-profit organization in 2002 and a charitable organization in August 2004.
Quebec's Le Soleil described the Choir of the TEM conducted by Daniel Taylor in concert:
“Listening to the 20 pure angelic voices had already moved many to tears. The mix of light but exact timbres
conserves a texture that is lithe yet at times sumptuous. The text is sustained and respects the music of the language.
Clear intonation and balance were in evidence: unity and cohesion particularly strong. Daniel Taylor directs as he sings,
this is to say with an ease and economy of gestures. The result is a most moving ensemble that could not be more supple,
more pleasing. Every moment spoke to the audience and answered perfectly, providing it seemed what the audience was searching for.
At a concert entitled ‘The Path to Paradise’, apparently, many had found their path.”
Sony Classical Masterworks Announces the signing of Daniel Taylor as an Exclusive Recording Artist.
Sony Classical Masterworks, one of the largest major recording companies in the world,
represents the finest musicians in the world including Yo-Yo Ma, Andrea Bocelli and Joshua Bell.
Sony Classical are proud to begin an association with one of the world’s leading early music artists,
the Canadian vocal star, Countertenor Daniel Taylor.
Alexander Cowan, UK-based Senior marketing manager for
Sony Masterworks International, comments: “Daniel Taylor is a world-class recording artist.
We are looking to complement his touring activities with a succession of
records to reaffirm his position as one of the most sought-after countertenors in the world.”
IMG Artists Europe and Asia:
IMG Artists, the global leader in the artist management business, is pleased to announce the signing of Daniel Taylor
and the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music. With an unparalleled degree of artistic and managerial talent,
IMG is committed to breaking new ground in the ever-evolving world of the performing arts. IMG Artists and Daniel Taylor
look forward to beginning their future touring collaborations. Daniel Taylor comments “I am honoured to have the
opportunity to work with this brilliant management team which will compliment our work with local agents in South America,
Canada and in France.”
IMG Artists is the global leader in the arts management business, combining the highest standards of management with an
incomparable range of services to its customers and clients alike. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris,
Hanover, Lucca and Singapore, IMG Artists delivers an international suite of capabilities including the management and
touring of the finest musicians, dance companies, orchestras, and attractions, as well as consulting and advisory work for
sovereign clients, arts institutions, concert halls, and culturally engaged corporations.
IMG Artists will continue to seek out distinctive partnerships and craft collaborative initiatives in the years to come.
The Choir of the Theatre of Early Music in concert with the Ensemble Caprice Orchestra
Handel and Vivaldi: Effervescence and Melancholy
Catch them in Montreal or Toronto!
The Choir of the Theatre of Early Music join the Ensemble Caprice Orchestra
in a concert of Handel and Vivaldi at the Salle Bourgie in Montreal
and also at Trinity Chapel, University of Toronto
Musical Direction: Matthias Maute and Daniel Taylor
This program features the talents of the Ensemble Caprice orchestra
performing the pyrotechnics of Vivaldi concertos, and also features the
singers of the Choir of the Theatre of Early Music who lend their celestial
voices to Vivaldi’s Psalms and Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline.
Heavy and happy is the music that crowns a king
PETER ROBB, Ottawa Citizen
November 26, 2014
Since the coronation of William the Conqueror at Westminster Abbey in 1066, every British monarch has been crowned in a service full of glorious music. Ottawa-native counter tenor Daniel Taylor tells Peter Robb a little bit about the service and a performance of the music he is delivering on Dec. 3.
Q. What an interesting project. Where/when did the idea germinate?
A. The coronation of the Queen took place 60 years ago on June 2, 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey. The Diamond Jubilee marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. On the BBC, a shining example of what the CBC could be with proper management and effective government support, 30 million British citizens tuned in to watch a Coronation Festival. Last year, at the residence of the governor general, I was awarded the Queen’s Medal in recognition for my work in the arts. A few days later, I listened to the Gabrieli Consort’s Venetian Coronation and days later to the King Consort’s stunning rendition of Parry’s I Was Glad- it reminded me how much music can move us. In our current political climate, in a time when there still exists inequality in our society, when child poverty continues to go unnoticed by our ruling government, as our population ages I feel more and more the need to bring music to people.
Q. Please tell me about how you researched the music and the ceremony?
A. I traveled to Westminster Abbey, to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and to the Chapel Royal. I spoke at length with the well-known British Period-Orchestra conductors Paul McCreesh and Robert King. We know that there are no indisputable documents that detail a specific order of service for the Coronations. We can be sure that the Clerk of the Cheque’s account of the service is fairly accurate in indicating that there was an introductory anthem as well as a setting of a work by Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tallis confirming the tradition of returning to compositions of the past composers with works found in the music library of the Chapel Royal. Thus this concert/ceremony honors the ‘old’ music and music from the greatest of the English composers in a reconstruction of the pageant.
One of King George I’s last acts before his death on June 11, 1727 was to sign an act of naturalization of George Frederick Handel. Handel’s first subsequent commission was to write music for the coronation of King George II which took place on Oct. 11, 1727. To celebrate the ascension to the throne, a magnificent service full of pomp and ceremony was planned. The commissioning of new music was usually entrusted to the Composer and Organist of the Royal Chapel, however with the unexpected death of William Croft, the King appointed "Mr. Handel, the famous composer to the opera."
We will be playing Handel’s coronation anthems Zadok the Priest and The King Shall Rejoice. Their festive character brought the works great popularity, the performances being hugely successful and have been played ever since, Handel re-used excerpts notably in Deborah and Ester. Zadok the Priest has been sung at every subsequent coronation and was traditionally performed, as it will be in our concert, during the anointment of the King. (At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 music by Gibbons, Purcell, Tallis and Handel, including Zadok the Priest, was played.)
Q. Any interesting stories to tell about the coronation music that you uncovered?
A. It is to some extent that we owe some thanks to Sir Frederick Bridge for his decision to shed a light on the best of the British composers.
Bridge, the English composer and organist, became known to historians for organizing great state occasions including Queen Victoria’s
jubilee in 1887, the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 and the Coronation of George V in 1902. On receiving his commission as Director
Music, Bridge courageously decided to make a coronation a celebration of 400 years of English music including works by Orlando Gibbons,
Henry Purcell and Thomas Tallis alongside compositions of the day. New works commissioned included Hubert Parry’s setting of Psalm 122, I Was Glad, which has been used at every subsequent coronation, it was made famous in modern times when it was performed at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Q. Tell me about your upcoming performance.
A. The concert is played on period instruments and combines choristers from the Theatre of Early Music, the University of Toronto Schola Cantorum and the York University Chamber Choir. Just as Choirs were combined for the major events, so do we bring together 60 young choristers and musicians. We open with the tolling of the bells, a trumpet fanfare and cries of Vivat either side of the procession of the drums — it’s fantastic stuff.
A regal affair with Daniel Taylor, Lisette Canton and the Theatre of Early Music
Performed at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa
Reviewed Wednesday night, Dec 3rd by Natasha Gauthier, the Ottawa Citizen
Royal pomp was on offer Wednesday evening at Christ Church Cathedral - complete with trumpets, drums, a jowly bishop and a boy king - as Daniel Taylor and Lisette Canton co-conducted the Theatre of Early Music and assorted guests in a program of music fit for a coronation.
The TEM choir was augmented by members of University of Toronto’s Schola Cantorum, which Taylor directs, and the York University Chamber Choir, led by Ottawa’s Lisette Canton.
Presented as a mock crowning ceremony, the concert opened with a sonata for two violins by French Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair. It was jauntily played by Cynthia Roberts and Adrian Butterfield...
After a drum procession and a trumpet fanfare the performance began in earnest with Hubert Parry’s soul-shaking anthem I Was Glad, directed by Taylor. He conducts from a deeply spiritual place and coaxed a fresh, mentholated sound out of the largely student choirs, with crisp if not entirely Westminster diction. Organist Matthew Larkin provided grand, spacious accompaniment.
Canton took over to direct Handel’s Coronation Anthem, The King Shall Rejoice. Canton’s style is quite different from Taylor’s: more extroverted and rhythmically driven; clearer to follow perhaps, but also less obsessive about details in the text.
Gibbon’s stunningly simple, open-hearted anthem Drop, Drop Slow Tears and Elizabeth Poston’s lovely carol Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, both conducted by Taylor, were the emotional and musical highlights of the concert, crystalline in their transparency and softly glowing with humility. The singers showed admirable focus despite loudly popping speakers and hacking audience members.
The coronation on Queen Street concluded with two kingly Handel works. Taylor took Zadok the Priest - the most famous of the four Coronation Anthems - at a more sedate tempo than many early music specialists. It had nobility........they rallied to crown the concert with a golden chord at the very end.
Juno Nomination for The Heart's Refuge!
Jan 26th 2015: Daniel Taylor writes:
" What an accomplishment for our students at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music in Historical Performance and
Voice in partnership with the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music! "
Here is the list of Juno nominations for 2015 :
CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: VOCAL OR CHORAL PERFORMANCE:
Schubert: Winterreise Gerald Finley & Julius Drake (Hyperion) (WINNER IN CATEGORY 2015)
Handel & Porpora: The London Years Julie Boulianne, Clavecin en concert & Luc Beauséjour (Analekta)
Mozart: Opera & Concert Arias Karina Gauvin, Les Violons du Roy & Bernard Labadie (Audiogram)
Terra Tremuit Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (ATMA)
The Heart's Refuge Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum & Daniel Taylor (Analekta)
To see all Juno Awards for 2015 click here: Juno Awards
September 9 2014
The Heart’s Refuge / Le Refuge du cœur
1. Buxtehude, Dietrich (1637 - 1707)
Jesu, meines Lebens, BuxWV 62 (Aria)
2. Bach, Johann Cristoph (1642 - 1703)
Es ist nun aus mit menem Leben (Aria)
3. Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich (1680)
Harmonia a 5
4. Kuhnau, Johann (1660 - 1722)
Gott, sei mir gnädig nach diener
5. Bruhns, Nicolaus (1665 - 1697)
Ich Liege und schlafe mit Frieden
Schola Cantorum and The Theatre of Early Music:
Daniel Taylor, Director
#1 on the Classical Soundscan
Canada WholeNote Magazine
To listen to The Heart’s Refuge or
to order a CD on line
or download MP3 from Analekta
please click here: Order Now
Dripping with beauty and style, they establish their seriousness from the off - Buxtehude's passacaglia meditating on
Christ's sacrifice and continue it through Johann Christoph Bach's aching strophic death aria.
The choir shows its youth in a light and pleasing sound. This snapshot of 17th-century German sacred music is a heartwarming and worthy one.
Gramophone February 2015
The most recent recording of the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and the Schola Cantorum entitled The refuge of heart,
published by Analekta, offers images of peace and serenity like many pearls on a unlikely necklace.
Of course, great baroque music is made up of a large and varied repertoire and perhaps we should not be surprised
to hear such beautiful interpretations. But what sets this album apart from many others is the care taken by the
conductor and artistic director of the Theatre of Early Music Daniel Taylor and his research and selection of composers and works.
This may be first time on one recording that the well-known figures of Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Christoph Bach
(cousin of the father of Johann Sebastian Bach) are paired with rare compositions by lesser-known composers Johann Kuhnau,
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Nicolaus Bruhns.
The purity and depth of what is offered to the listener is made even better by the impressive cast of soloists:
the mezzo-soprano Rebecca Claborn, countertenor Kyle Guilfoyle, tenor Isaiah Bell and bass Alexander Dobson deliver
inspired performances and the impression of a contagious spirituality.
In perfect harmony with the chorus and soloists, musicians of the TEM show guided restraint required
for this type of repertoire in which the voice and text must occupy the largest share of the listeners focus -
the particular sound of old instruments is offered here in all its flavour. The thoughtful, unhurried work
immediately transports us elsewhere and for quite sometime. Such music, such purity!
Thank you Mr. Taylor!
Whether one is a believer or not, it’s always with an attitude of deep meditation that we surrender to
listening to the music of the German masters of the Baroque era. With a new album from the Analekta catalog,
entitled Refuge of the Heart, featuring the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and Schola Cantorum under the direction of
Daniel Taylor, we dive a little deeper inside the heart and soul of contemporaries of one of the most turbulent times in
history, that of the 30 Years War (seventeenth century). True to its mission to rediscover old music,
TEM and its founder and artistic director, Daniel Taylor, revealing here five gorgeous cantatas by German
composers of the Baroque era, all together in one album. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 - 1707), Johann Christoph Bach (1642 - 1703),
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623 - 1680), Johann Kuhnau (1660 - 1722) and Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697).
These German cantatas were constantly renewed by the great Italian masters of the Baroque.
The ensemble’s distinctive style, coupled with the expertise and enthusiasm of Taylor, leads to
exciting and authentic readings of these works in a musical testimony of agony, torment,
but also offering consolation for this century’s torn repression and internal conflict.
This repertoire covers a breadth in time of 4 centuries. Between 1618 and 1648,
a series of devastating wars decimated half the population of Europe. If believers found refuge in their faith and their
hope for a better world, the composers of the time found an endless source of inspiration. During the seventeenth century,
Lutheran musicians created a magnificent repertoire of sacred music. The texts emphasize Christ’s message in an original and
varied way. Death and deliverance ... the suffering of Jesus ... the distress of the soul are shown by ingenious methods of
musical imagery: motifs are repeated to emphasise their message in the mind of the believer;
very simple melodies have been refined to create a deep sense of peace and harmony ; a rapid succession of contrasts;
voices change from soprano to bass successively to evoke the descent into the tomb..
All this reflects the emotional landscape for those that were brought face to face with the horrors of war and destruction.
A non-profit organization, the TEM's mission is to allow early music to shine in all its glory.
The excellent musicians share their passion alongside prestigious guests, through their series of
concerts in Canada and through touring nationally and internationally (France, Argentina, Brazil,
England and Asia in particular). Under the baton of Taylor, the Schola Cantorum of the
University of Toronto - the elite of students of all levels - are guided by a desire to make known early music in
its original version, joining the TEM to offer us a brilliant and authentic presentation. Restoring the
works of great masters so that they regain lustre in our eyes, Daniel Taylor and musicians from TEM are
meticulous in their work, this is an offering that reveals every dimension of humanity.
Listen to this album, it is like rediscovering an old world in a new light.
Translation from french of Marie-Josée Boucher : original : info-culture.biz
The New York Times : Embracing Handel’s Leaping Arias and Duets
Weill Recital Hall
November 15, 2011
Theatre of Early Music players:
Cynthia Roberts, violin
Edwin Huizinga, violin
David Miller, viola
Amanda Keesmaat, cello
Reuven Rothman, bass
Eric Milnes, harpsichord
David Jacques, baroque guitar
The Theater of Early Music, a Canadian period-instrument and vocal ensemble led by Daniel Taylor, the countertenor, expands and contracts
to suit the project at hand. Mr. Taylor brought a compact version to Weill Recital Hall for a Handel program on Tuesday,
and though he was listed in the program book as both countertenor and conductor, there was no conducting to be done.
When the instrumentalists had the spotlight -in trim, zesty accounts of a passacaglia (from HWV 432) and the
"Giulio Cesare" Overture - Mr. Taylor left them to it.
The evening was mostly devoted to arias and duets from Rinaldo, Tolomeo, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda, in which
Mr. Taylor split the spotlight with the soprano Deborah York. They were well matched. In the ebullient Scherzano sul
tuo volto (I look in your beloved eyes) from Rinaldo, Ms. York’s bright, tightly focused timbre perfectly complemented
Mr. Taylor’s velvety tone, and when Ms. York darkened her sound in the mournful duet Io t’abbraccio (I embrace you)
from Rodelinda, the blend was just about perfect.
On her own, Ms. York was at her best in Bel piacere (It is a great pleasure) and Lascia ch’io pianga (Let me weep),
both also from Rinaldo. In Bel piacere, Handel demands an athletic series of barely prepared leaps, which Ms.
York handled so gracefully that she made her ornamentation of the top notes sound natural and comfortable if not
necessarily easy. In Lascia ch’io pianga, one of several tragic arias that gave the program its emotional richness,
she sang with a wrenching dynamic suppleness.
Mr. Taylor matched that quality in several pieces, most notably the lustrous Dove sei (Where are you)
from Rodelinda, where his tone was at its most fully burnished........
By Allan Kozinn, Published in NY Times on November 16, 2011
Photo credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Everything about Tuesday evening’s concert by The Theatre of Early Music at Carnegie Hall was intimate..
....the performance in Weill Recital Hall gave modern audiences a glimpse into how Handel’s audiences would have consumed this music in coffee houses,
concert halls, and in the home. The one-on-a-part ensemble may have left some in the audience yearning to hear a larger group of players to realize Handel’s sumptuous string parts.
However, the balance between the players and singers was perfectly suited to the size of the sold-out Weill Recital Hall, and created a robust
continuo - which contained more than half of the players!
Arias from three of Handel’s most popular operas in modern revival, Giulio Cesare, Rinaldo, and Rodelinda were featured in
the program. But the true gem of the evening was the aria Se il cor ti perde from Tolomeo sung by Daniel Taylor (countertenor).
The opera itself was little known even amongst the most experienced Handelians in the audience. For this piece, Taylor gave a
charming introduction and explained some of his artistic choices. This helped add to the intimacy of the evening....
In the aria, he mixed his falsetto and baritone wonderfully for dramatic effect, and literally let his hair down in order to match
the affekt of the crazed aria. His cadenzas were bombastic, chilling, and downright ferocious. One could really hear and see the rage
of the character Tolomeo, who in the aria threatens his sister Cleopatra.
...Taylor and his colleague Deborah York gave fresh interpretations to these old favorites. Taylor’s delivery of Cara sposa from Rinaldo was
particularly wonderful, and his entrance on the B natural held for more than four full beats was exquisite. A similar effect is written
into the aria Dove sei from Rodelinda, and Taylor let his audience relish in his gentle messa di voce, beginning softly
and then slowly swelling both in volume and vibrato. In all of his arias, Taylor showed remarkable restraint in his use of vocal embellishments and cadenzas.
The result made his choices to alter the music in da capo repeats highly noticeable and effective.
Deborah York’s most stunning aria, perhaps, was Cleopatra’s Tu la mia stella sei from Giulio Cesare. Her da capo ornaments,
more so than in her other arias, were subtly chosen and highlighted her vocal agility. The gorgeous and expansive Se pietá,
another aria for Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare received thunderous applause from the audience.
True to the ensemble’s name, Theatre of Early Music, all of the music was presented in a theatrical manner,....Taylor, for example, never
stood in the center of the stage during introductory ritornelli. For all of his arias, he made a dramatic entrance from stage left.
Often, he even began singing facing away from the audience, singing to the players......
The style of dramatic presentation also contributed to its authenticity.
Submitted by Stephen Raskauskas on 17th November 2011
Daniel Taylor and Deborah York Perform Handel to Perfection
.....all the listener heard was glorious singing, supported by a committed group of instrumentalists. Cynthia Roberts was superb in the role of first violinist,
playing with flare and with an awesome technique. The other instrumentalists were also right on with every note,
including David Jacques who played the Baroque guitar.
Cara Sposa, the best known piece on this program, was touchingly sung by Mr. Taylor.
He has an angelic demeanour which well suits songs of lamentation, and he performed this one effortlessly. Se il cor ti perde, a duet from
Handel’s Tolemeo, is very similar in style to Schezano sul tuo volo. both duets weave the voices in, out and around each other:
the harmonizing is ethereal and almost other-worldly.
The second half of the program opened with the overture to Giulio Cesare, Ms. Roberts and her group put so much spirit into their performance that it
seemed as if a full orchestra was on stage. Tu la mia stella sei followed, a difficult aria that York tossed off with ease, reaching up
to the highest vocal register without undue strain or thinning out.
The group returned to Rodelinda and a more familiar aria performed by Daniel Taylor, Dove sei, a lament made poignantly touching by
Taylor’s attention to each word and meaningful but not overly-emotional gestures. This led into a wonderful and difficult aria,
Se pieta di me non senti from Giulio Cesare. Built on a chromatically descending triplet played repeatedly through the entire piece,
with Ms. York’s impassioned voice doubled or echoed by the strings, this was certainly the most moving aria in the concert, and the
considerable applause that followed was appropriately long.
Taylor then took the stage and graciously thanked the New York audience for giving him the opportunity to play in Carnegie Hall.
It was thrilling to him, but even more so to his mother, who was in the audience. He stated that his natural voice was that of a baritone and
that he was able to use this range in this next aria, Domero la tua fierezza. Loosening his ponytail as he took on the role of the mad Tolomeo,
he tackled this wild aria with all its jumping notes and wide intervals. If there was any question whether this angelic countertenor could belt out
dramatic arias, it was answered here. His exaggerated gestures and emphatic holding of the low notes was tremendous fun after so many rueful songs.
Taylor dedicated the final duet from Rodelinda, Io t’abbraccio, to a deceased friend. Appreciative applause continued until the ensemble
returned to do an encore of their first duet Scherzano sul tuo volto.
Credit for photo : Nan Melville (C) 2011
And from Milwaukee:
Group’s Reading of Handel is all Pro
Taylor and York form a wonderfully complementary duo ..
York sings with a focused, pure sound, making sparing but effective use of vibrato and executing perfectly timed ornaments
with absolute grace. She brings great musical depth and a tremendous range of colors and dynamics to her musical interpretations,
creating a subtle sense of drama in the process. Her soulful, pristine deliveries of arias such as Lascia ch'io pianga from Rinaldo
on Saturday’s program were exquisite.
Taylor has a bigger, more dramatic sound than York, which is remarkably warm and relaxed for a countertenor.
He uses vibrato liberally and is not afraid to color outside the lines of a perfectly refined sound from time to time for musical effect....
Those differing sounds and styles combine to create musical magic in duets. The two singers work together with a
remarkable musical intimacy based on a combination of great musical instincts and the ability to listen and respond to each other.
They give their duets the feel of extremely personal conversations.
By Elaine Schmidt, Special to the Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2011
Early Music Now: Handel, master of opera
Countertenor Daniel Taylor, who sang from Handel operas Saturday on an Early Music Now program, is the best (countertenors)
I’ve ever heard. His voice is big, beautiful, rich and agile. He guides it with unerring feel for the sentiments of the words and
the direction of the phrase. He ornaments brilliantly and with a historian’s sense of style. ...
They sang and played selections from Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare and Rodelinda, ...The singers and players understood
and fully realized them....
This music is also extravagantly virtuosic for the singers. Both York and Taylor negotiated fleet scales and arpeggios with
ease and applied the most astonishing ornaments when Handel instructs them to repeat a section.....
Taylor took ornamentation a step further in Domero, from Giulio Cesare. He dropped out of countertenor guise
and into his natural baritone for certain words, to startling effect. A couple of critics have taken him to task for the
inauthenticity of such a stunt. They have a point, as this would not have occurred in Handel’s time - castrati don’t develop baritone ranges.
But this music is first about amazing voices doing amazing things. In spirit, Taylor adhered to Rule No. 1 of late Baroque opera performance
practice: If you’ve got it, baby, flaunt it! ....
... A near-capacity crowd applauded the Theatre of Early Music with gusto....
Tom Strini, November 19th, 2011
Notre Dame Basilica, Montréal October 13th, 2011
Well-received musical experience for the delegates of the International Congress of Human Genetics
If this is Baroque, please don’t fix it!
Approximately 800 attendees of the 12th International Congress of Human Genetics were treated to a selection from Handel operas
in the magnificent setting of the Notre Dame Basilica. Daniel Taylor, Suzie Leblanc and the Theatre of Early Music delivered a
musical experience that will not soon be forgotten.
Mr. Taylor is touted as Canada’s star countertenor and, while not having had the opportunity to hear from the
rest of the field, it is hard not to believe that this is a case of damning with faint praise. Demonstrating extraordinary control of his instrument
Mr. Taylor conveyed the emotional gamut of the selections, from love and passion to despair and most memorably insane rage (with the requisite flying hair).
It is hard to imagine a more devoted interpreter of this repertoire.
As fine as Mr. Taylor’s performance was, for me the revelation of the evening was the soprano,
Suzie Leblanc. With a rich, pure tone of crystal clarity, Ms. Leblanc evokes the voice and style of her mentor,
the great English Baroque soprano Emma Kirkby. Indeed, in this listener’s opinion Ms. LeBlanc’s vocal quality has
infinitesimally more color while matching the unparalleled musicianship of the former. I am looking forward to
exploring her discography not only to hear her perform the Baroque repertoire, but to enjoy performances of Acadian folk song.
The band, using authentic Baroque performance technique, was sensitive in its support of
the singers and was given the opportunity to shine in two overtures. While all of the musicians were
exemplary and the ensemble impeccable, two were especially noteworthy (pun intended). The 1st violinist Chloe Meyers was
given ample opportunity to interact with the vocalists and was their equal in the antiphonal give and take. The obvious delight in
the interplay of ornamentation between the soloists and violinist consistently put a smile on my face. Contemporary jazz musicians
could take a thing or two from these musicians to employ the next time they are trading fours. Praise is also due the oft neglected
member of most ensembles, bassist Reuven Rothman. With such a small group it is almost impossible for the bass not to dominate when
it is playing, yet the blend with the other instruments was perfect, well done!
Perhaps the finest compliment that can be paid to all the performers was the reaction of the audience. Having attended a number of these events
in the past has conjured nightmares of performing before a ‘gabble’ of geneticists who are absorbed in their quatrain of A, C, T and G
to the apparent neglect of the 12 glorious notes between A and G. Indeed, at the outset, applause was polite if a bit perfunctory,
but by the end the assembly erupted in a standing ovation that testified to the connection between the performers and the audience.
Truly one of the finest performances I have attended and the highlight of the meeting. Thanks to the organizers, particularly Judith Allanson, Secretary-General of the ICHG for their work in arranging this wonderful concert.
Marc S. Williams, MD, Director, Clinical Genetics Institute, Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, Utah