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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra music director, violinist Jeanne Lamon, announced this afternoon that she will be stepping down in 2014 to become music director emerita.
Tafelmusik board president Andy Kenins said that the organization will begin the long and painstaking process of choosing a new artistic leader immediately.
Lamon has led Tafelmusik since 1981, guiding the period-performance ensemble from finally shaky, musically uneven status on the fringes of Toronto’s musical life to being one of the most respected period-instrument orchestras in the world.
“After more than three terrific and musically memorable decades at Tafelmusik, I have decided to step down as full-time Music Director in 2014,” said Lamon in a statement. “It has been an honour and a privilege to have served in this role these past 30-plus years, and to work with such a fabulous orchestra and choir. There is such talent, commitment and integrity throughout Tafelmusik. I continue to be inspired by the amazing musicians around me and am proud of what we have achieved together.”
Lamon expects to remain fully engaged past her exit date, saying that there is much work to be done at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, the orchestra’s longtime home, on the organization’s new self-run music label, new artistic projects and the creation of a Tafelmusik International Baroque Academy.
The violinist is also in continued demand as a guest conductor, masterclass leader and instructor.
In a musical world that prizes star visiting conductors, Lamon has been a shining example of what a permanent, resident artistic leader can do to build ties in the home city while also creating a vast international network of touring possibilities and fans.
Lamon has, from the very first day, been a collegial leader who asked questions and listened first before making major decisions.
I first met Lamon in December, 1988, and was immediately struck by her modesty, intellectual curiosity and ability to lead from within.
Through a combination of very hard work, persistence and a clear artistic vision, she was able to build an orchestra that set the standard for historically informed performance over the past generation — in live concert as well as on approximately 80 albums.
Lamon’s will be very large shoes to fill. Finding a replacement is doubly hard for an orchestra that has not had to do it for three decades. It’s going to take a while and, fortunately, Lamon will be there to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible on the musical side.