2018 Music and Beyond Opening Gala review.

Daniel Taylor’s Theatre of Early Music performed a patrician, semi-staged version of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Ottawa mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta was the star attraction as Dido. Taylor wisely underlined her singular energy and vocal distinctiveness: dressing her in creamy white while keeping everyone else in black; isolating her onstage, minimizing her physical interactions with the other singers. Instead, two contemporary dancers, the riveting Bill Coleman and Carol Prieur, served as the physical avatars for passion, sensuality and betrayal. It was really the only approach that allowed this strange marriage to work.
Geoffrey Sirett was an enormously impressive Aeneas. Sirett adopts a less is more philosophy. His velvety, tea-stained baritone is grounded in luxurious legato and judicious use of falsetto for expressive effect.
The rest of the ensemble was marvellous, including Larissa Koniuk’s sweetly affecting Belinda, Benjamin Butterfield’s hilariously inappropriate drunken sailor, and Taylor’s own creepy, campy Sorcerer. Choral movements were finely etched, with especially beautiful echo effects. The small instrumental ensemble, led by violinist Adrian Butterfield, provided a softly shimmering backdrop for the singers.

July 5th 2018

Daniel Taylor: chant choral... sur le chemin du paradis

Daniel Taylor: choral singing ... on the way to paradise

photo of Dan and choir

Published February 25th 2018

If so many music lovers in Quebec and Canada appreciate the range of the countertenor, it is largely thanks to Daniel Taylor. Suave and incarnate, his high-pitched voice has bewitched us for more than two decades, and also through over one hundred albums.
In addition to being a rigorous and respected choral conductor, inspired artistic director and true aesthetic leader, the Canadian singer is at the helm of the Trinity Choir and the choir and orchestra of the Theater of Early Music (TEM). The approaches of these formations consist in amalgamating the most beautiful choral works of the XVth century to today, works often forgotten and put back in light ... this time in Montreal, where he lived for two decades and where he keeps a pied-à-terre - he now teaches at the University of Toronto, where he lives mainly to honor this task.
The program of his Sunday performance is based largely on the much appreciated material of an album launched last December by the Trinity Choir on the Sony Classical label, the sublime "The Path to Paradise" welding the present and the distant past.
The chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours will be inhabited by composers Arvo Pärt (1935-), John Tavener (1944-2013), John Sheppard (1515-1558) and Willam Byrd (1540-1623), among others. For Daniel Taylor and his colleagues, this superimposition of epochs works perfectly well, although it begins with a musical quest in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. "This relationship with the music of the distant past, says Daniel Taylor at the end of the telephone line, comes from the influence exerted on me by the late Christopher Jackson [founder and artistic director of the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal]. I knew him in my first year of university, we became friends, then traveled a lot together. In addition to being a great musician and a great artistic director, Christopher was a man of exceptional depth, with whom we could discuss everything: news, history, philosophy, etc. "
This relationship of Daniel Taylor with the late Christopher Jackson has also encouraged him to integrate humanity into his artistic practice.
"What I’m looking for in the choral repertoire and in the music highlighted by the ensembles I’m associated with is the human factor. Very old or very recent, the song can illustrate the persecution and the suffering, but also hope and revelation. " says Daniel Taylor. This is why, moreover, he regularly includes in his concerts the music of contemporary composers such as John Tavener and Arvo Pärt, whose rhythmic concepts are inextricably linked to the heartbeat.
Tavener and Pärt prove to be true mystics in the 21st century, and their work may well merge with a body of ancient music whose inspiration was often (if not exclusively) religious. But there is even more: "So many great thinkers and art designers are interested in rituals, " says Daniel Taylor. "As far as I’m concerned, it’s really not easy to talk about this ritual dimension in a 60-minute album or in a concert, but it’s still possible, I think. "
Research Work
The great qualities of Daniel Taylor’s concerts or recordings lie in the rigor of his quest for works that are both sublime and obscure.
"I dig into bookstores or libraries, the list of my discoveries grows over the years, " he says. Let’s take In Monte Oliveti, from Orlando di Lassus [1532-1594]. I had never heard this beautiful piece before discovering it in the library. I also visited the Mount of Olives in Israel. Arriving on the spot, however, it is not so grandiose ... In the case of this mystical representation, the journey is more important than the arrival. "
Very often on tour, the singer and artistic director likes to lead ensembles whose members can vary around a stable core of collaborators.
"I like that the interpreters, recruited mainly in Canada, remain fresh and alert while being part of the same sound aesthetic. If we perform abroad, however, we can accommodate a number of singers from countries where we perform. ""
The sound bill is essential for Daniel Taylor. "For The Path to Paradise concept, for example, I recruited tenors who sing particularly high, which gives the choir an overall sound consistent with what the 16th century composers in our repertoire had in mind. This is why, moreover, we find in this choir more male voices than usual. The sopranos also play a leading role in the choir and add to the seduction. I dare to believe that we are able to suggest a real experience and touch people."


March 1, 2018 : A touching reflection on last Sunday’s The Path to Paradise:

Quand je m’évade dans la mesure (When I escape into the measures.) :
personal notes and musical review by Josée Gagnon:

High sensitivity. Clarity of the vocal gesture. We hear the space that opens. Joyful acuity flows through the senses. We perceive everything, sounds and silences. The mind calms down. The posture changes. In this quality of listening, each voice is revealed in it’s infinite accuracy. Each delivering it’s own color, essential to balance the whole. The ear captures the muffled sounds that soon give way to the storm of a flamboyant crescendo. The sound volume penetrates us without ever crushing. It envelopes us, it keeps us alert. As an arrival at the summit, at the end of a long ascent, when the heart breathes and soothes, absorbed by the expanse of emptiness, dazzled by the beauty of space, as far as the eye can see, with a full ear.
The choir director inspires this creative synergy. He invites it through his gestures. he feeds on it and provokes it all at once. He leads the voices and our listening in a movement of perfection. It reveals the fair expression of the work at this time, in this room, with this audience. In this atmospheric pressure and this humidity from the end of February, it offers the perfect texture for this exceptional acoustic space. In the pure magic of this meeting, each member of the audience becomes an accomplice of the works that are being created that night. In the wave of sound and listening, emotions dance, all personal, intimate but connected just as much.
Sitting straight on my wooden pew in the heart of the church, I loose myself in the movements of the conductor, Daniel Taylor. I observe this back and those hands that chant the movement. I follow them for a long time. It's calm, precise, whole. I escape into the measures. I enter the score. I navigate in the wave of voices that release their arsenal of grandeur and beauty.
And the last piece ends. The encores are finished. The voices touch the silence. The musicians are turning. Greetings. Applause. The audience is rising. Ritual. Transition. It moves, it speaks. Each one of them put on the mantle of his life and returns step by step to the city. Sunday night in Montreal. The city with a hundred steeples. The city of a thousand festivals. :
I am coming back home. I write these lines. As a need to convey how art is alive. How art transforms and animates women, men and children who experience, create, feel and welcome it. And because art exists, maybe humanity has still a chance?

These notes were written after Daniel’s THE PATH TO PARADISE presentation.
Taylor and the Theater of Early Music, presented at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel,
in Old Montreal, February 25, 2018, as part of the Montreal Highlights Festival.


Juno Nomination for "Tree of Life",
The Trinity Choir, directed by Daniel Taylor!

photo of Trinity choir students

February 2018 : Congratulations on your Juno nomination to Daniel Taylor and Trinity Choir singers,
including some of the young stars (left-to-right):
Bronwyn Thies-Thompson, Rebecca Genge, Ellen McAteer, Emma Hannan and Ryan Patrick McDonald
from the University of Toronto.

Here is the list of Juno nominations for 2018 :
Classical Album of the Year:
Vocal or Choral Performance :

1. The Tree of Life, Daniel Taylor with The Trinity Choir
2. Crazy Girl Crazy, Barbara Hannigan with Ludwig Orchestra
3. Aeterna: Mother of Light: Isabel Bayrakdarian with Coro Vox
4. Schubert Sessions: Lieder with Guitar, Philippe Sly & John Charles Britton
5. In the Stream of Life: Songs by Sibelius, Gerald Finley with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra

2018 Winner : Crazy Girl Crazy, Barbara Hannigan with Ludwig Orchestra



Fall Baroque Academy : Giulio Cesare (Highlights) Review

photo of 2017 baroque Academy concert

On an unseasonably hot September night, in an exquisite Gothic Revival chapel, an irrepressible 18th century composer sent the collective enthusiasm of early music students soaring last Sunday, singers and instrumentalists spirited partners in a courageous concert of daring proportions. Highlighting excerpts from George Frideric Handel’s dazzling 1724 operatic masterpiece, Giulio Cesare, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music’s Fall Baroque Academy provided ample occasions for emerging artists to shine...... Trinity College Chapel rang with passion.

Supported by an unfailingly buoyant 12-player student ensemble, augmented by a handful of imported professionals, sensitively conducted from the ranks by guest Music Director Jeanne Lamon, the 14 members of founder Daniel Taylor’s remarkable Schola Cantorum took command of 11 distinct arias. Primarily featured as soloists, occasionally in duets, singers provided context, each précising moments of salient libretto, Giulio Cesare play by play.

Asked about his perception of his role as Head of Historical Performance in a brief one-on-one post concert conversation, a smiling Maestro Taylor said simply, "not to educate the feeling and creativity away." Judging from the boundless energy and tireless commitment of his students, he and his Academy colleagues must surely be overjoyed by the scope of their success. The capacity audience in attendance at Trinity College most certainly was.

Posted on September, 2017 by Ian Ritchie, Opera Going Toronto

Complete review:



Magnificat Review

photo of Dan and Peter Phillips

Sometime in the early 1600s.......German composer and organist Hieronymus Praetorius wrote his Magnificat V, one in a series of Magnificat settings for multiple voices all arranged in towering polyphony. Almost 400 years later, contemporary Estonian symphonist Arvo Pärt blended the intricate Renaissance form with elements of Gregorian chant and Russian Orthodox harmony to create a uniquely reshaped Magnificat, stark, solemn, strikingly reverent.
What surprises is not so much the breadth of the historical gulf separating the two works, but the depth of resonance that unites them, a shared sense of acute spirituality expressed in vivid human overtones.

Presenting both pieces, the first foreshadowing the second, internationally acclaimed period virtuosi, the Tallis Scholars, led by Peter Phillips launched a dazzling evening of sacred music at St. Paul’s Basilica on Saturday. A vibrant choral sampler, the lush offerings essentially reflected parallel modes of expression over the centuries revealed in four distinct Christian texts.
Alternating with Phillips as conductor, University of Toronto Head of Historical Performance, renowned countertenor Daniel Taylor, joined by artists of the Choir of the Theatre of Early Music augmented and expanded the repertoire in a glorious demonstration of exquisitely detailed programming.

More finely filigreed singing was much in evidence post intermission with four variants of Ave Maria, the first performed in a single appearance by members of U of T Faculty of Music’s Schola Cantorum led by Taylor. Theatrically assembled in two ranks flanking St. Paul’s great domed Victorian nave, the visibly excited cohort of student choristers gave rich balanced voice to a heartfelt rendition of the hallowed plea written by an anonymous author.

The Nunc Dimittis, an exultant proclamation of the birth of the Infant Jesus, concluded the evening in historically varied guise. A quasi madrigal written in glowing counterpoint by Orlando Gibbons. A short work by Spanish polyphonist Andrés de Torrentes. A spectacular swelling iteration for double choir by the brilliant 20th century orchestral colourist, Gustav Holst.
The Tallis Scholars ended as magnificently as they had begun, utterly triumphant, gifting us with Claudio Monteverdi’s irrepressibly joyful motet, Cantate Domino by way of an encore.
This was a concert of extraordinary dimensions, a spine tingling leap across time, astutely curated, superbly sung, stirring and intense. In this, the holiest season in the Christian calendar, Phillips, Taylor and artists remind us that music like faith can be powerfully transformative.

Posted by Ian Ritchie, Opera Going Toronto, March 2017

Complete review:



Tallis Scholars & friends: Magnificat

Tonight felt like a kind of affirmation of permanence in the face of change and disorder in the world.
The Tallis Scholars, conducted by Peter Phillips, joined forces with two University of Toronto ensembles, Schola Cantorum and Theatre of Early Music, conducted by Daniel Taylor. While the repertoire ranged from the renaissance to our own century, we were listening to unaccompanied choral music, using religious texts: Magnificat, Pater noster, Ave Maria and Nunc Dimittis, all in multiple settings.

St Paul’s Basilica at Queen & Power was packed with eager listeners, attracted no doubt by Tallis Scholars’ wonderful discography, but also perhaps aware of the new kids in town, Taylor’s two ensembles that shared the program and are now also recording for SONY. The acoustic plus the visuals are a dream come true for musicians presenting this kind of program.

For a few of the pieces we saw the combined forces, as in Praetorius’ Magnificat V to begin or Holst’s Ninc Dimittis to close the program. ......the singing is very direct and without excess vibrato (as you’d find in styles from later periods). The notes, especially the ones sung way up high are totally exposed, and requiring nothing less than perfection of intonation. I shall investigate further: through the magic of recordings.

Posted March 26, 2017 by Barczablog

Complete review:



Three Reviews of SOLD OUT Toronto summer Music Presentation of
The Coronation of King George II

photo of DT  with TEM - coronation concert

This was the most fun I’ve had at a concert since the epic minimalist concert August 2013. Then as now I believe we were seeing Toronto Summer Music Artistic Director Douglas McNabney pushing the envelope of what’s possible in a concert.....But this time I believe we were engaging in genuine research, Daniel Taylor’s Theatre of Early Music (TEM) challenging us to see and hear in a new way. .....

.......I loved this concert that ventured into different territory beyond performance. We were re-enacting a public ritual from long ago, and I say "we" because the audience weren’t merely passive viewers. Whether it was McNabney or conductor Daniel Taylor who conceived & curated this event, they changed the usual ground-rules for a concert.

photo of Bill Coleman  Coronation concert

The evening was organized into a service: re-enacting a coronation, with a few modern pieces added. Bill Coleman silently portrayed King George II, while Alan Gallichan played the Archbishop. During Zadok the Priest, in the long gradual build-up of tension, we saw the Bishop put a crown upon the King’s head, and then the two advanced towards us (the congregation?), leading to the shattering climax as the chorus came in. The orchestra was a nice size to work with that fabulous chorus, comprised of a string quartet, two oboes, two trumpets, drums and organ.

This wasn’t any old chorus, as Taylor looked out upon a small ensemble of some of the best singers in the city, namely the Theatre of Early Music (TEM). The magnificent chorus included Ellen McAteer (fresh from Friday night’s Rape of Lucretia) Asitha Tennekoon (heard in Tapestry Opera’s Rocking Horse Winner), Alex Dobson, and Toronto Masque Theatre’s Larry Beckwith.......

I was struck by the sentiments stirred up at this concert. We heard wonderful music including "Worthy Is the Lamb", but also participated in singing Parry’s "Jerusalem", admittedly an anachronism that served to personalize the event. I wonder, would the crowd in the 18th Century have cried out "God Save the King" along with the chorus in "Zadok the Priest"? Listening to this performance, I have to wonder. .... But notice that it’s not wrong to be sentimental, not in this case. This isn’t a piece of art, it’s a practical composition for an event, intended to stir up our feelings. When they sing "Alleluia"’s a genuine prayer, not just a bit of singing....
...It’s a coronation anthem meant for an event like what we saw re-enacted tonight....Wow!

photo of DT  with TEM - coronation concert

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Barczablog

Complete review:


The Coronation Of King George II

On October 11, 1727, George II, was crowned King of England. His journey to the throne had been a rough ride. His father, George I, Elector of Hanover, imported by an opportunistic Parliament to quell the threat of a dreaded Catholic succession, had prided himself on his singular disinterest in the political and cultural affairs of his adopted nation. His son, clever and artistic, bristled at the unpopular monarch’s entrenched philistinism to the point of estrangement. When, at long last, the disagreeable old king died, George II leapt at the chance to publicly commit to the customs and values of his newly inherited realm.
George Frideric Handel, another German-born expatriate, inveterate impresario, London showman par excellence, was hired to produce and direct the coronation. It would be a royal smash hit, an 18th century blockbuster, a spectacular, supremely theatrical show of Englishness.
Sounding a regal note to the Toronto Summer Music Festival’s celebration of British music, the Choir and Orchestra of the Theatre of Early Music conducted by the ensemble’s artistic director, Daniel Taylor, thrilled earlier this week with their sweeping, unbounded concert wryly entitled, The Coronation of King George II.
Parted by the turbulent passage of almost three centuries from the reality of the quintessential Georgian monarch’s legendary inauguration, no musicologist, however determined, can likely ever reconstruct the actual fabric of the ceremony given the jumbled fragments of existing unset texts. The Chapel Royal as Handel knew it, final arbiter and preserver of English court music, has been repeatedly gutted by domestic hostilities and war, its archives savaged. Less authentic period statement than a summoning of the idea of coronation, Taylor, singers and musicians wisely sketched the past with broad strokes during the course of their recreation, emphasizing not so much a particular moment in time and place as a continuum, an artful witnessing of an entire history of orchestral and choral pageantry, Renaissance to Baroque to present-day. Rousing, gripping, frequently uplifting, the experience both charmed and enthralled, blending Gibbons and Palestrina, Purcell and Handel with pieces composed, in the case of Hubert Parry and John Tavener, 200 – 300 years after the momentous gala in Westminster Abbey. Handel may not have programmed each and every one of Taylor’s selections but he would surely have approved.
On a summer soft evening at U of T, the Faculty of Music’s Walter Hall sparkled, ringing with trumpets, soaring with organ, bright and luminous with song.
Eighteen voices strong, choristers processed in stately file through the auditorium, opening from the rear of house, lining opposing side aisles at the concert’s midway point. Surround sound effects abounded, unexpectedly visceral and dramatic. Interspersed with well-known vocalists plucked from the ranks of the Toronto opera community, Ellen McAteer, Asitha Tennekoon, Alex Dobson, Cairan Ryan, the purpose assembled choir touched the heart with its exquisite blend of warmth and passion.
Setting the tone for the evening’s instrumental proceedings, Parry’s I was Glad still ringing through the hall, period oboes, organ and strings... quickly merged into a delightfully no-nonsense Overture and March from Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day. Moving through the attentive audience to join the Theatre of Early Music’s refreshingly uninhibited players on stage, chorus and orchestra assembled for the great, swelling coronation anthem, The King Shall Rejoice, Taylor leading with great charisma and exuberance.
A very tangible, physical sense of occasion held sway throughout the exquisitely intense 1-hour performance that followed heightened, in no small measure, by the robed presence of Rev. Alan Gallichan of Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, assuming the role of Archbishop of Canterbury. Startling, exuding an air of pronounced drama, costumed actor Bill Coleman, commanded attention as the King in faux white lead make-up and full wig.
As solemn as it was joyful, the scope of imagination and invention underlying this impossibly fanciful, utterly engaging Coronation of King George II was nothing less than extraordinary, a dream of monarchy set to magical music. Gibbons’ Drop, Drop Slow Tears, ethereal and a cappella, mesmerized. The stark beauty of Purcell’s Hear My Prayer, O Lord haunted. Parry’s mighty hymn, Jerusalem, a towering classic shaped into a potent communal encounter by Taylor, inspired and moved, a great plainspoken cry of hope and joy sung by audience and choristers alike. Then suddenly it was over, Handel’s iconic Zadok the Priest potent and resonant as it should be, Worthy the Lamb from Messiah concluding the all-too-brief program. "God save the King!", cried the Archbishop. "God save the King!", we echoed.
A stirring concert, a visionary offering. A glorious crowning touch to a fine 2016 Festival.
- Ian Ritchie, Opera going Toronto, July 2016


Crowning George II

For the occasion Mr. Taylor had assembled a small band of strings, trumpets, oboes and drums and both a chamber organ and the newly repaired organ of Walter Hall were brought into play. There was a choir of twenty including some pretty classy singers. Good use was made of the space to create different effects. Parry’s I Was Glad was sung with the choir in the back corners of the hall with the organ at stage right. Later on Tavener’s Hymn to the Mother of God was sung by the choir split down the sides of auditorium. This was highly effective and it made the most of a very beautiful piece; for me the musical highlight of the night.
There were fanfares from suitably wonky period trumpets and drum rolls and lots of liturgical call and response of the "We are miserable sinners O Lord " , "Yes we are really miserable " variety.
Then there was Handel; Zadok the Priest and The King Shall Rejoice (natch) and Purcell (Remember Not, Lord and Hear My Prayer, O Lord and Gibbons (Drop, Drop Slow Tears) and Palestrina (Jesu, Rex Admirabilis) all sung very beautifully a capella. The "congregation " (us) got to belt out Jerusalem before the choir kicked in with Zadok for the actual coronation followed by lots of "Long live the king! "s and a final blast of Worthy is the Lamb and the Amen from Messiah.
Somehow it struck the right balance between gravity and levity and a good time was had by all.
John's Opera Ramblings, July 2016



Analekta: The Vale of Tears / La Vallée des Pleurs

Latest release for The Theatre of Early Music with Schola Cantorum

Vale of Tears CD cover

AN 29144
September 15 2015

To listen to The Vale of Tears or
to order a CD on line
or download MP3 from Analekta
please click here:    Order Now

The Vale of Tears/ La Vallée des Pleurs

1. Praetorius: "Hört auf mit Weinen und Klagen"

Schütz: Musikalische Exequien, Op. 7
2. Concerto in the form of a German Requiem Mass
3. Motet: "Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe"
4. Canticle of B. Simeonis: "Herr, nun lässest Du Deinen Diener"

5. Praetorius: "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin"

J.S. Bach: O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad, Cantata BWV 165
6. Aria (soprano): "O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad"
7. Recit. (bass): "Die sündige Geburt verdammter Adamserben"
8. Aria (alto): "Jesu, der aus großer Liebe"
9. Recit. (bass): "Ich habe ja, mein Seelenbräutigam"
10. Aria (tenor): "Jesu, meines Todes Tod"
11. Chorale: "Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl"

Schola Cantorum and The Theatre of Early Music:
Daniel Taylor, Director


La Scena Musicale, Montreal, November 2015

"It’s clear that Daniel Taylor adores the human voice. He has meticulously chosen the singers he works with and shepherds these talents with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the music. This vale of tears turns into a river that flows forth, nearly a century later, into Bach’s Cantata BWV 165. This baptismal cantata ends in a chorale of limpidity and purity. This must be the finest performance of this stand-alone work by the great composer. Soul-uplifting and essential."


Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum, Dan Taylor, The Vale of Tears

Article posted on CBC web site by Robert Rowat - Sept 2015

On the heels of their Juno-nominated 2014 album The Heart's Refuge, the Theatre of Early Music, Schola Cantorum and director Daniel Taylor are back with another exciting release on the Analekta label, The Vale of Tears.

The Theatre of Early Music is Taylor’s collective of early music specialists committed to reconstructing music for historical events, and that’s exactly what we have in The Vale of Tears. Here, the event in question is a funeral for Heinrich Posthumous Reuß, a member of the noble class in Dresden where another Heinrich, Schütz, was Kapellmeister. Schütz composed his Musikalische Exequien in 1635 to honour Reuß, and it is has endured as his most famous work. It’s complemented on The Vale of Tears by J.S. Bach’s cantata O heilige Geist- und Wasserbad, which draws on some of the same texts and chorale sources as Schütz’s work and two hymns by Michael Praetorius that were performed at Reuß’s burial service. It’s a substantial choral program for Schola Cantorum, a vocal ensemble comprised of students from the Univeristy of Toronto’s faculty of music, where Taylor is head of historical performance. But in the few years since he established the group, it has blossomed into a virtuosic choir capable of tackling the most challenging baroque repertoire.

We reached Taylor by email to find about more about his most recent project.

Music from the early baroque period doesn’t get as much attention as music from the high baroque. Why is that?
It could be said that, aside from Monteverdi, many of the composers from the early baroque period have been neglected. Perhaps until recently, ensembles have not taken risks in their programming, so often it’s Fireworks or the Brandenburgs, in part because of the reduced funding provided by the federal government to the arts. The Theatre of Early Music made its first effort to remedy that with our Juno-nominated album dedicated to early German composers including Kuhnau and J.C. Bach. Kuhnau was a composer I first brought to the Quebec and Canadian public thanks to Christopher Jackson’s invitation to direct the Choir of the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. In many ways, Christopher proved to be a mentor and inspiration to me and my work that would follow. It’s encouraging to see groups such as Arion now programming Kuhnau, it is a compliment to my musicians and to their dedication as well as to Christopher’s unerring commitment to early music.

This album gives us a faithful representation of the kind of music we’d hear at a solemn occasion in 17th-century Germany. Does this sort of historic immersion drive your projects with the Theatre of Early Music?
Absolutely. My interest in liturgical reconstructions is driven by my belief that the art itself is already perfect in form; this, to be clear, this is not about having a "brand name" or leaving my own fingerprints all over the scores, but in allowing the original beauty of the work to be shown. It must be like the feeling of revelation that they had when they restored the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, this is very much a sacred process guided by the musicians.

You’ve been directing U of T’s Schola Cantorum for three years now. What are the challenges you face making music at a professional level with a student ensemble?
There is a moment that I usually wait for in each rehearsal, that moment during which I see the students singing with joy (priority number 1!) suddenly realize that I am going to make very specific professional artistic demands of them, they are, after all (as one of the reviewers noted recently) an ensemble of the elite singers in this country, and with opportunity comes tremendous discipline and very, very hard work. Their first concert was with the greatest choir in the world, the Tallis Scholars, and since then they have appeared with members of the Monteverdi Choir, the Gabrieli Consort and the Kammerchor Stuttgart. Combined with the rich array of courses offered through the University of Toronto’s choral program developed by Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, our program is unrivaled in Canada.

Tell us what the recording sessions were like.
Recording sessions were intense and yet the singers and I found them to be greatly rewarding. For some of these young people, this was their first professional recording yet instead of hearing doubt or hesitation, you can hear their excitement. To be sure, the Musikalische Exequien is a complex piece and there were certainly times when I asked myself why I had set such a monumental task before all of us. However, they answered this challenge by lifting the music to a higher level.


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 :

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

CD cover

AN 29143
September 9 2014

#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

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

Recent Reviews:

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 :



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