Is this the golden age or dark ages of the arts?

Last Saturday night, we attended a performance by a baroque music group in a church on Bloor Street in Toronto. Even in the plumpest of times, the music of 17ᵗʰ and early 18ᵗʰ century Europe is both an acquired taste and a deep and narrow passion. No ERAS tour for concerti grossi. Yet there were 600 other baroque fans who stood and whistled and cheered at the concert’s end just like they did at Koerner Hall the night before for Joshua Redman.

I hadn’t heard Tafelmusik in many years and was surprised that this is their 45th anniversary. As I heard its 16 musicians playing on baroque instruments like the theorboand the viola da gamba, I was struck by how daring and different their concert was. Different sections played from different parts of the church, not once, (ho hum), but often. The cellist played standing up. (When was the last time you saw a cellist who was not sitting down?) The ‘conductor’ explained every piece before it was performed. Everyone on stage was having fun.

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