Tafelmusik, the critically acclaimed Canadian baroque orchestra best known for its thrilling yearly sing-along of Handel’s Messiah, is widely appreciated for its classical style, flawless choir ensemble, and enchanting period instrumentation.

On February 1, however, Tafelmusik’s Haus Musik series will return, targeting a different demographic by removing its formal attire and rows of seats in favour of DJs and a bar. The immersive concert, boasting music that defies genre, will feature a rare combination of baroque style and DJ sets from Noble Oak, a fitting name given the event’s advertised theme of “bringing the great outdoors inside.” 

The Varsity corresponded with Anna Theodosakis, U of T alumna and a guest director for Haus Musik, about the upcoming event.

The Varsity (TV): Haus Musik events are described as “atmospheric” and “immersive.” Can you elaborate on what this means and what people should expect from this event? How does this differ from other Tafelmusik events?

Anna Theodosakis (AT): Haus Musik strives to provide audiences with an immersive experience that enhances the music presented. All the added visuals like sets, lighting, and movement are directly inspired by the music thus creating a cohesive journey for the audience.

Unlike other more traditional Tafelmusik concerts, the audience is encouraged to wander through the space, relax at the bar, and interact with the actors and set installations. There is no separation between the performers and audience like a stage, the entire space is part of the show and so are you.

TV: In addition to excellent music, this event promises aesthetic appeal, including “imagery and dance” and an exploration of the theme of “bringing the great outdoors inside.” How is this visual aspect woven into the rest of the event, and what does it add to the overall effectiveness of the evening? Is there a set, or is the atmosphere more evocative of a bar?

AT: We are creating a mystical forest within the Longboat Hall complete with an interactive, majestic tree. There will be a series of video projections and we’ve paired the musical numbers with nature soundscapes. Our dancer is a deer/human hybrid who will interpret both baroque pieces and electronic music, bridging the two musical worlds.

There is still a bar, of course, and the audience is encouraged to compare the contrasts and similarities between indoors/outdoors, music/nature, and baroque/contemporary.

TV: The music at this Haus Musik event features both baroque and DJ music; how will these different forms of music complement one another? Is the music still played on traditional period instruments, or does it take a more modern form?

AT: Noble Oak, our DJ and electronic music composer, has a background in classical piano and understands what to pair with the baroque sound. In both the baroque and electronic set there’s an emphasis on long lines soaring over atmospheric ensembles. It’s amazing that when compared with contemporary music the baroque pieces can somehow seem just as radical and progressive. The baroque set will be performed on traditional instruments including the rare Viola d’amore.

TV: The target demographic of this event is clearly younger than that of other Tafelmusik events. What makes Haus Musik appealing to a young adult crowd? Is the ultimate goal to draw younger people to more traditional Tafelmusik concerts, or it is simply to expose younger audiences to classical music and different concert experiences?

AT: Haus Musik draws in younger audience members who maybe aren’t as familiar with baroque music as they are with the contemporary offering. The hope is after being exposed to the baroque genre they may choose to attend a more traditional concert or continue to attend the Haus Musik series. Regular Tafelmusik goers are also being exposed to something new with the addition of the electronic artist and visual impact. Whether someone attending is new to baroque music or an expert, the real goal is to provide a new and exciting concert going experience that will enrich their listening experience.

Tim Crouch, Senior Manager of Marketing & Audience Engagement, told The Varsity that Thursday’s event is the sixth Haus Musik event, with the next one planned for April 26. Each one will showcase unique DJs and artistic directors and thus offer a different experience from the last.

Advance tickets are $20, with $25 tickets offered at the door. Doors open at 8:00 pm at The Great Hall at 1087 Queen Street West. Be sure to check out what promises to be a concert unlike any you’ve been to before.