TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top

Talisker Players

By Musical Toronto on April 15, 2016

Talisker Players, 2016 (Photo: Milan Ilnyckyj)
Talisker Players, 2016 (Photo: Milan Ilnyckyj)


Talisker Players


Phone: (416) 466-1800

Address: 4 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON M5S 3E1


Facebook | Twitter


Photo Gallery



Talisker Players presents one of Toronto’s most exciting and innovative concert series. It’s vocal music, it’s chamber music, and it’s theatre too, blending words and music in evenings of adventure and discovery.

Each concert explores the worlds of music and literature through the art of song and dramatic readings that illuminate the experience in many unexpected ways. Programmes feature extraordinary music for solo voice and chamber ensemble written by diverse composers of the past and present, and performed by some of Canada’s finest vocal artists. The singers are accompanied by a varied and eclectic mix of instrumentalists, everything from traditional string quartet to ensembles with marimba, harp, and guitar. Every programme offers surprises, delights and new insights.

All concerts take place in the excellent acoustics and warm atmosphere of Trinity St. Paul’s Centre for the Arts, one of Toronto’s premier chamber concert locations, at 427 Bloor Street West. And, every concert is followed by a reception during which the audience is invited to meet and mingle with the performers.

“I am grateful that Talisker keeps programming music and text in such a way as to provoke my thoughts and feelings.  I look forward to seeing where they take us next year.”  — Barczablog


The Folks Behind It All

Mary McGeer (Photo: Colin Savage)
Mary McGeer (Photo: Colin Savage)

Artistic Director Mary McGeer

Mary McGeer, Artistic Director and principal violist, is equally at home in the worlds of words and music.  As the creator of each themed programme, Mary selects both the musical repertoire and dramatic readings and weaves them into a captivating tapestry that delights the ear and stimulates the mind. During the concert season, she can be found onstage playing the viola with the ensemble.

Mary is also in demand as a violist with a wide variety of other ensembles in and around Toronto, from Baroque to New Music. She recently completed a tour with Esprit Orchestra to China, was principal violist of the Huronia Symphony from 1998 to 2010, and a member of the Phoenix String Quartet for 10 years. She also maintains an active career as a teacher and chamber music coach.

Originally from the Saguenay region of Quebec, where she began her musical training on piano, Mary completed a diploma in performance from the Université de Laval. She later studied viola in Toronto and New York. Mary also holds a Masters in History and Political Science from Carlton University. She has worked as an office manager, a journalist and editor, and she continues to write for various publications. Though she is a self-confessed workaholic, she also loves to travel and escapes with her husband Rollie to parts unknown whenever possible.




Songs of Enchantment

          — tales of wonder, spells and transformation

Tuesday, October 25 & Wednesday, October 26 – 8 pm
Pre-concert talks at 7:15 pm
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Magic is all around us, if we are only open to it. The pathways include allegory, fairy tales, and the insights of visionaries and poets. We explore all of them, in words and music from across the ages.

Featuring Miriam Khalil, soprano; Lauren Segal, mezzo-soprano; and Stewart Arnott, actor.


R. Murray Schafer: Beauty and the Beast for mezzo-soprano and string quartet. Text by the composer, from the fairy tale by Mme Laprince de Beaumont.

Henry Purcell: excerpts from The Fairy-Queen, for soprano, strings and continuo. Libretto by Thomas Betterton.
Malcolm Arnold: William Blake Songs for soprano and string quartet.
Jocelyn Morlock: … et je danse for soprano, mezzo-soprano, violin, cello and piano. Poetry by Arthur Rimbaud.
Alexina Louie: Songs of Enchantment for mezzo-soprano and string quartet. Text by the composer.

Spoken Word:

Legends, myths and fairy stories about spells and curses, retribution and rebirth.

— — — — —


’S Wonderful

— the best of the Gershwin songbook

Sunday, January 29, 3:30pm & Tuesday, January 31, 8pm
Pre-concert talks at 3pm & 7:15pm
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto

We’ve got rhythm! The great songwriting team of brothers George and Ira Gershwin was short-lived, owing to George’s tragic early death, but it produced some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century. We sample the best of them including Embraceable You, Lady be Good, Summertime, Fascinating Rhythm, the Man I love – and of course the title song, S’Wonderful.

Featuring Erin Bardua, soprano and Aaron Durand, baritone

— — — — —


Land of the Silver Birch

— Songs of Canada’s first European settlers

Tuesday, March 28 & Wednesday, March 29, 8 pm
Pre-concert talks at 7:15 pm
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto

The early explorers and settlers from France and the British Isles brought to Canada a rich treasury of folk songs – and wrote many more about their experiences in their new home. To celebrate the sesquicentennial of Confederation, we offer a selection, from Beethoven’s arrangements of Scottish folk songs to a brand new set of Canadian songs from Canadian composer Alexander Rapoport.

Featuring Whitney O’Hearn, mezzo-soprano; Joel Allison, baritone; and John Fraser, reader.


Ludwig von Beethoven: Scottish Folk Songs for two voices, violin, cello and piano.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Three Old English Folk Songs for voice and violin.
Mieczyslaw Kolinski: Six French Folk Songs for voice, flute and piano.
Ernest MacMillan: Three French Canadian Sea Songs for voice and string quartet.
Gilbert Patenaude: Six Chansons du Détroit for two voices, flute and string quartet.
Alexander Rapoport: Four Canadian Folk Songs for flute, viola, cello and piano.

Spoken Word:

Selections from the letters and diaries of English immigrants Anna Jamieson and Catherine Parr Traill, missionary and linguist Fr. Paul LeJeune, and Marc Lescarbot of Champlain’s ‘Order of Good Cheer’.

— — — — —


A Mixture of Madness

— the fine line between revelation and insanity

Tuesday & Wednesday, May 16 & 17, 8pm
Pre-concert talks at 7:15 pm
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto

“There is no wisdom without a mixture of madness.” Aristotle’s famous dictum captures both the madness that is part of wisdom, and the wisdom that is part of madness. Our exploration of this connection features Peter Maxwell Davies’ dramatic and gripping Eight Songs for a Mad King, along with some of Purcell’s Mad Songs, and a new commission from Canadian composer Alice Ho, with text from Phoebe Tsang.

Featuring Ilana Zarankin, soprano; Bruce Kelly, baritone; and Andrew Moodie, actor.


Henry Purcell: Mad Songs for soprano, strings and continuo. Texts by various writers.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Songs of William Blake for soprano and oboe.
John Plant: Insomnia for soprano and saxophone. Text by Marina Tsvetaeva.
Mitch Leigh, arr. Laura Jones: ‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha for baritone, oboe, violin, viola and cello. Lyrics by Joe Darion.
Alice Ping Ye Ho: The Madness of Queen Charlotte for flute, viola, cello and piano. Text by Phoebe Tsang. *Commissioned work, world premiere*
Peter Maxwell Davies: Eight Songs for a Mad King for baritone, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, harpsichord and percussion. Words by Randolph Stow and George III.

Spoken Word:

Selections from the letters, diaries and memoirs of visionaries, seers and artists exploring the margins of reality.

Share this article
comments powered by Disqus