It has been three years since Jeanne Lamon retired as music director of Toronto’s illustrious Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. The new kahuna is Elisa Citterio, a hot-shot Italian violinist who makes her debut this week as the orchestra’s manager with A Joyous Welcome, a suitably titled program which not only opens Tafelmusik’s 2017-18 season, but ushers in a new age also. Not entirely comfortable conversing in English, Citterio answered our questions by email.

When you’re brought in as a guest conductor this past year, did you believe it was a type of audition for the job of Tafelmusik’s new music director?

At the time I knew about the research process and that there were a few candidates being tried out. Everybody at Tafelmusik welcomed me so kindly that I nearly forgot I was performing an audition.

The news release announcing your hiring heralded a “new age” for Tafelmusik. What will the new age involve?

For the exact reason that Tafelmusik is indeed well-rooted, it is natural to anticipate changes. We’ve got a excellent staff and we can build on what they’ve achieved under the exceptional guidance of former director Jeanne Lamon. I’m looking forward to creating more educational chances for children, to bringing a wider number of individuals to our concerts, to commissioning new works by Canadian composers, to trying some experimental applications and also to touring in Europe, particularly Italy.

What about musically? A quirkier style perhaps, or looser?

Jeanne Lamon has made a very familiar style, and the artists have a means of playing that is extremely solid and efficient. It would be simple for any manager to put their stamp on Tafelmusik without distorting the orchestra’s characteristics. My purpose is to respect the musicians’ sensibilities and their ensemble playing while adding my private interpretation. An explosive mix.

Is there a concert program this year that’s representative of the changes you are making?

This year was largely done when I signed my contract, so I worked on only a few programs. A Joyous Welcome, beginning this week, are the first concerts of the year. And there is Elisa’s Italian Adventure in October. Both of these are representative of myself, but the next season will be wholly done under my artistic direction. Thank you for your patience.

Outgoing director Lamon described you as a “Tafelmusik person.” What does this mean to youpersonally, to be a Tafelmusik individual?

If I must think of a single word about Tafelmusik, it is family. Everyone shares their thoughts and opinions and each outcome is the fruit of a team effort. My first purpose is to share all aspects of life at Tafelmusik while being mindful of being the individual that has the ultimate responsibility for specific choices. I believe this part of my character is based on Tafelmusik’s philosophy.

If a person was unfamiliar with Tafelmusik, which recording by the orchestra would you suggest they listen to and why?

The records of Beethoven’s symphonies, to demonstrate that Tafelmusik can play a whole lot more than Baroque music quite well.

How about yourself? Say you’ve had a rough day in the workplace, which recording would you listen to when you buy home?

Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, as it reminds me a great deal of my childhood. Furthermore it’s timeless music that always offer you a unique emotional experience.

Are you anticipating rough days in the office? What is your biggest challenge?

My big challenge is English. How much more would I be able to say in Italian!

Tafelmusik’sA Joyous Welcome, under the leadership of Elisa Citterio, runs Sept. 21 to 24 in Koerner Hall and Sept. 26 George Weston Recital Hall. Info at 416-408-0208 or tafelmusik.org.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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