Jeanne Lamon, violinist and former director of Tafelmusik, deceased at 71

Violinist Jeanne Lamon, who conducted Toronto’s famous Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for more than three decades and has been its Music Director Emeritus since 2014, died of cancer in Victoria, B.C. on June 20 at the age 71.

“Lamon’s inspired leadership, his passionate dedication to artist training and his commitment to the values ​​of collaboration, inclusion and artistic excellence shaped Tafelmusik during his remarkable 33-year tenure from 1981 to 2014,” one reads in a statement published by Tafelmusik, announcing The death of Lamon. “Under Lamon’s direction, Tafelmusik has built an enviable reputation as” one of the best baroque orchestras in the world “(Gramophone), growing from its humble beginnings to the cutting edge period ensemble it is today. ‘hui under the direction of her successor, Music Director Elisa Citterio. “

Patrick Jordan, Tafelmusik violist since 1993, told CBC Music that “Jeanne’s devotion to Tafelmusik and her ‘all-in’ commitment is rightly legendary. She was one of the best leaders I have had the pleasure of knowing. She had an incredible set of skills to keep disparate groups and individuals all on one side of a rock, pushing in the same direction. This balance was also evident in her musicality, as she certainly had her strong ideas and commitments, and she knew how and when to end a discussion, but she left enough room for the other members of the orchestra to feel that they made a real contribution. “

Longtime Tafelmusik oboist John Abberger reflects emotionally on Tafelmusik’s 19-year tenure as an ensemble in residence at the Klang und Raum Festival in Irsee, Germany. “Klang und Raum has become a sort of magical retreat for us as a whole and has played, I think, a central role in our development,” he told CBC Music. “At the end of August, fresh out of our summer vacation, we met in the cloister of Irsee, built at the turn of the 18th century. For an exhilarating week, free from the distractions of our daily lives, we played the most glorious music, mainly by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, in a building that was already nearly 100 years old when much of it was written. Many factors came together to make this formative experience a reality for Tafelmusik, but by far the most important was Joan’s devotion to our musical development as an orchestra. And she was thrilled to share the direction in partnership with Bruno Weil as we explored the riches of late 18th century music and broadened our musical horizons as an orchestra.

‘Passionate, happy, strong and full of life’

Those close to Lamon and the Tafelmusik organization had been prepared for the news of his death by an email statement from Tafelmusik violinist Julia Wedman on June 17, which was then shared publicly on social media.

“As many of you may have heard, our dear Tafelmusik Music Director Emeritus, Jeanne Lamon, was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and we have just learned that she is now in her career. last few days, ”Wedman wrote. “It’s so hard for us to believe that someone so passionate, happy, strong and full of life could leave us too soon.”

Tributes poured in on social media.

In 2000, Jeanne Lamon was made a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2014, a Member of the Order of Ontario. (Sian Richards)

“Jeanne was my first concert and recording partner for many of Bach’s great works,” wrote countertenor Daniel Taylor, head of early music at the University of Toronto, on Facebook. “I love her so much. May the flights of angels sing her for her rest.”

Tricia Baldwin, Managing Director of Tafelmusik from 2000 to 2014, also took charge Facebook to express her gratitude for Lamon’s many gifts: “Always sincere, always direct, always bold, always with deep integrity on and off the stage, and always with a big heart. Jeanne has been an amazing leader and musician who has always turned for the stars with so much conviction and energy and had this wonderful motivation to fearlessly make us all jump from top to top for the next substantial adventure. “

Under Lamon’s direction, Tafelmusik gained international fame, in large part thanks to his dynamic interpretations of music from the 17th and 18th centuries, preserved in a catalog of more than 70 albums, as well as his ambitious multimedia projects (House of dreams, the Galileo project) with which he made a long world tour.

“I think it’s important that we, the performers, the creators of the concert experience, experiment with new formats and new ways of playing concerts, and new ways of engaging audiences, rather than always be the passive listener, “Lamon said for a while. interview 2014. “And I think the Galileo project is a very good example of how we can change, as performers, the concert experience without compromising the quality of musical creation.”

Along with Lamon, Tafelmusik won nine Juno Awards – 10 if you count their 2006 recording of Beethoven’s Symphonies No.5 and six under Bruno Weil.

“I had admired her for a long time, as did many conductors in Europe with whom I sang Baroque operas at the time, who, upon discovering that I was from Toronto, immediately expressed immense respect for her and Tafelmusik, ”soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian told CBC Music. Over the years, Bayrakdarian has collaborated on numerous occasions with Lamon and Tafelmusik, most notably on the Juno Prize Cleopatra. “So naturally I was a little nervous working with her. What I remember most is the loud, serene, smiling and flexible way she conducted the first rehearsal: she listened with one ear. attentive, quickly adapted when it was a good idea, or firmly – but gently – suggested another idea, always beautifully demonstrated on her violin for further conviction. “

The silvery tone of Lamon’s violin adorns Bach’s famous aria from Orchestral Suite No.3 on the 2003 Juno Prize-winning Tafelmusik recording.

In 2004, Tafelmusik was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without a Conductor) for Branch: Dardanus, The Temple of Glory. “The greatness of the music may not be so obvious, but for Tafelmusik’s refined period style, with sturdy but disciplined strings, concentrated brass and melodious woodwinds,” wrote the New York Times‘David Mermelstein at the time.

Tafelmusik and Lamon performed the music of Rameau Dardanus and Handel Water music when they made their Carnegie Hall debut in February 2009.

Lamon was born on August 14, 1949 in New York. She received her Bachelor of Music from Brandeis University, where she studied with Robert Koff, before traveling to the Netherlands to delve into the then burgeoning field of period baroque performance practice, in close collaboration with Sigiswald Kuijken.

She returned to the United States in the mid-1970s and established herself as a leading scholar of Baroque music, winning the Erwin Bodky Prize for Excellence in Performing Early Music in 1974, the first violinist to do so.

Lamon’s association with Tafelmusik began in 1979, when she was invited by Tafelmusik founders Kenneth Solway and Susan Graves to perform as a soloist with the group. A return engagement to play a JS Bach concerto the following season confirmed the synergy, and in 1981 Lamon was appointed concertmaster and musical director, directing the performances of her first violin chair.

“110% energy”

“I will miss his laughter. I will miss his killer instinct at the bridge table. We used to joke that if you could play bridge with a future hire, it might be more useful than the process. interview, “said the violist. Jordan.

Abberger added: “No matter how exhausting the touring trip may have been, no matter how many rehearsals and meetings she may have had, she always took the stage for a gig with 110% energy. and dedication to music. She inspired and demanded this devotion from all of us, and we responded in kind. “

Jeanne Lamon and members of Tafelmusik performed on a boat for CBC’s Adrienne Clarkson Presents in 1995. (CBC Still Photo Collection / Fred Phipps)

A major achievement under Lamon’s tenure was the renovation of Trinity St. Paul’s Church on Bloor Street West in Toronto, Tafelmusik’s home. This was accomplished in 2013, when Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity St. Paul’s Center, reopened.

After 33 years at the helm, Lamon became Music Director Emeritus of Tafelmusik in 2014 when Citterio (also violinist) was chosen to succeed him. “She remains and will always be an integral part of our wonderful organization as we are the product of her tireless passion and tenacity,” Citterio said in a statement.

In this new role, Lamon helped found the Tafelmusik International Baroque Academy, a training initiative for young musicians.

Also around this time, Lamon was appointed first baroque conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia, cementing a decades-long association with this organization and performing with the orchestra several times per season. “[She] advised on our programming and baroque messages, ”said Heidi MacPhee, Director of Marketing and Communications, Symphony Nova Scotia, to CBC Music. “She was also a key point of communication for audiences who enjoy attending these concerts. “

Two years ago, Lamon and his partner, cellist Christina Mahler, moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where they continued to be involved in music and aimed to “spend more time outdoors in the world. ‘fresh ocean air’, according to Lamon’s Biography of Tafelmusik.

“Jeanne and Christina are both cherished members of my chosen family,” wrote baroque violinist Chloe Kim, artistic director of Victoria’s online. Music for the break series, at CBC Music. “These past few months have been shocking and devastating for all of us who love Jeanne. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine our life as a whole without her wit, the warmth of her heart, her radiant smile and the incredible sincerity of her. music.

“Although at the time we didn’t know it, I was very lucky to have played Jeanne’s last concerts with her,” Kim continued. “Those sunny days of chatting, laughing, sharing food, stories and ideas together are memories that I will always keep with me. Jeanne has truly changed the lives of so many people, including mine, and she leaves behind a brilliant legacy with Tafelmusik. She was a definite positive force in this world – her friendship and zest for life will be sadly missed by all who have had the privilege of knowing her. “

Lamon has received honorary doctorates from York University, Mount Saint Vincent University and the University of Toronto. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2000 and in 2014, a Member of the Order of Ontario.

“If the mission of humanity is to uplift one another, then Jeanne Lamon has uplifted countless souls with her legacy of transformative musical creation, which continues to enrich our lives today through her many recordings. “, concluded Bayrakdarian.

Tafelmusik will announce plans for a special tribute to Lamon in the coming weeks.

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