Artists this season

The Windermere Quartet

Drawn together by a shared enthusiasm for early string quartets, the members of the Windermere String Quartet came together in 2005 to perform the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries on period instruments, as well as new works inspired by the WSQ’s historically-informed style. The Quartet has drawn notice for “sparkling, straightforward interpretations” and “an attractive earthy honesty.”

Their Windermere String Quartet Concert Series, in Toronto, has been presenting exciting, innovative and exploratory programming for over a decade. Over the years, the WSQ has played the world premières of ten new quartets, nine by Canadian composers. Over the same period, they have performed all sixteen of Beethoven’s String Quartets, and have introduced the Quartet’s loyal audiences to the works of under-represented composers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including Georges Onslow, Carl Loewe, Juan Chrisóstomo Arriaga, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, and many others. The WSQ has performed to acclaim on concert series throughout Ontario, and has collaborated with many bright lights in the early music community, including Lucas Harris, Alison Melville, and Meredith Hall.

The WSQ’s first recording, The Golden Age of String Quartets, released in 2012, has been widely praised for “period performances that blend life, spirit and soul with a perfectly judged sensitivity for contemporary style and practice.”

Haydn’s Work in this performance

Haydn himself explained the origin and difficulty of writing the work when the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel issued (in 1801) a new edition and requested a preface:

Some fifteen years ago I was requested by a canon of Cádiz to compose instrumental music on the Seven Last Words of Our Savior On the Cross. It was customary at the Cathedral of Cádiz to produce an oratorio every year during Lent, the effect of the performance being not a little enhanced by the following circumstances. The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn darkness. At midday, the doors were closed and the ceremony began. After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the seven words (or sentences) and delivered a discourse thereon. This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar. The interval was filled by music. The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each discourse. My composition was subject to these conditions, and it was no easy task to compose seven adagios lasting ten minutes each, and to succeed one another without fatiguing the listeners; indeed, I found it quite impossible to confine myself to the appointed limits.

The priest who commissioned the work, Don José Sáenz de Santa María, had reconditioned the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, and paid Haydn in a most unusual way – sending the composer a cake which Haydn discovered was filled with gold coins.[

The seven meditations on the Last Words are excerpted from all four gospels. The “Earthquake” movement derives from Matthew 27:51ff. Much of the work is consolatory, but the “Earthquake” brings a contrasting element of supernatural intervention—the orchestra is asked to play presto e con tutta la forza—and closes with the only fortississimo (triple forte) in the piece.

At the request of his publisher, Artaria, the composer in 1787 produced a reduced version for string quartet: Haydn’s Opus 51. This is the form in which the music is most often heard today: a group of seven works  with the Introduction abutting Sonata I and Sonata VII joined by the Earthquake. The first violin part includes the Latin text directly under the notes, which “speak” the words musically.

Patricia O’Callaghan

Patricia O’Callaghan is something of a wandering minstrel. Her fifteen-year career has taken her across genres, continents, and a range of disciplines and passions.

Her recording career spans six solo CDs and many interesting guest collaborations. A speaker of French, Spanish, and German, her early recordings focused on European cabaret, and she is considered a specialist in the music of Kurt Weill. Patricia has performed his Threepenny Opera, Seven Deadly Sins, and Kleine Mahagonny with Soulpepper Theatre Company, Edmonton Opera, and Vancouver Opera, to name a few.

One of Patricia’s most unique talents is the ability blend a variety of languages and musical genres seamlessly together in her concerts, and completely embody whatever style she is singing at any given moment.

She has sung with some of the world’s great ensembles and artists (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Don Byron Quartet, Bryn Terfel), and has performed in venues that range from London’s Royal Opera House to New York’s Noho cabaret Le Poisson Rouge.

Patricia also writes and co-writes songs and has had the honor of premiering many new compositions, from both the classical and pop worlds. It has been her great privilege to work with such creators as R. Murray Schafer, Dennis Lee, Christos Hatzis, George Aperghis, Steve Reich, and Steven Page, to name a few.

Patricia’s film, theatre and television credits include her own Bravo! special, The CBC produced Ken Finkleman series Foolish Heart, and the semi autobiographical Rhombus / Westwind film Youkali Hotel, which has won several prizes, including a Golden Sheaf Award to Patricia for best female performance. Ms. O’Callaghan has also received other awards, such as a Chalmer’s Grant from the Ontario Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from The Banff Centre for the Arts.

She just completed a six year stint as a Resident Artist at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company. Her responsibilities there included conducting, teaching, mentoring young artists, producing, curating and performing in festivals, and developing new work.

Recent projects are Broken Hearts and Madmen; a collaboration with The Gryphon Trio, which blends classical music with traditional songs from Latin America and pop songs from around the world…

And brand new is her first Christmas CD, Deepest December. It’s not a typical holiday album, covering Renaissance to modern, and hurdy gurdy to lap steel guitar. Its beautiful carols, haunting arrangements, and unusual juxtapositions will make you feel at once the icy frost of winter and the warmth of the hearth.

Robert Kortgaard

Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Juilliard School in New York City. As a recipient of arts awards from the Canada Council, he continued his musical studies in Italy and England.

Mr. Kortgaard has performed as a soloist with major Canadian orchestras and has given recitals throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in England, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and China.

He is one of the country’s most respected concert pianists, having appeared with most of the country¹s leading orchestras and recital societies. Mr. Kortgaard has become one of the most in-demand colleagues of Canada’s most esteemed vocalists, and is a frequent partner of sopranos Measha Brueggergosman and Wendy Nielsen, mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell and cabaret diva Patricia O’Callaghan.

For five years, he was resident musician at the University of New Brunswick, and he is now artistic director of the Indian River Festival in Prince Edward Island.

Andrew Downing


Andrew Downing is a Toronto based double bass player, cellist, composer and educator born in London, Ontario in 1973. He plays primarily in the creative jazz scene in Canada, but also performs classical chamber music, improvised music, folk and roots music, and world music. He practices the unusual craft of tuning his bass in fifths an octave lower than a cello. His teachers include Jack Winn, Dave Young, Don Thompson, Shauna Rolston and Joel Quarrington.

His own projects span a wide variety of styles and practices. Most recently, he has begun a collaboration in İstanbul, Turkey with ud (Turkish lute) player Güç Başar Gülle that incorporates Ottoman Classical music in a collection of new compositions for ud, cello, percussion and kaval (a Turkish folk instrument). Their first album Anahtar will be released in October of 2013. He also has a collaborative multi-media project with Canadian songwriter John Southworth and visual artist Yesim Tosuner called Easterween featuring songs written by John and arranged by Andrew for his 7-piece chamber ensemble. He also leads his chamber-jazz ensemble Melodeon, which plays live scores for silent films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Phantom of the Opera (with choir), Maciste in Hell, Impossible Voyage and The Shock.

As a composer, Andrew has written pieces for Nordic Folk group Ensemble Polaris, banjo player Jayme Stone, The Vancouver Bach Choir, Ensemble Meduse, Toca Loca and The Prince George Symphony, and has written arrangements for Patricia O’Callaghan, The Gryphon Trio, The Annex Quartet and The Art of Time Ensemble.

He has won two Juno awards, one for his own recording Blow The House Down with his former group Great Uncles of the Revolution, and one with the Vancouver-based group Zubot and Dawson. He has also won two West Coast Music Awards, a Socan Award, and the Grand Prix de Jazz from the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Andrew currently teaches double bass, composition and improvisation at the University of Toronto and has taught at Wilfred Laurier University, the Banff Centre’s Jazz Workshop and the Creative Music Workshop in Halifax.

Tom Leighton

– “Driving the crowd insane with pleasure!”, Chronicle Herald, Halifax

Tom Leighton has been an important part of the Toronto Music Scene since the mid 1970’s. He has delighted audiences with his multi-instrumental offerings and eclectic repertoire. As part of the acclaimed music duo Haines and Leighton, he has shared his musical virtuosity world-wide. Described as “A two-man folk festival!”, they have been a familiar fixture in Canadian folk music circuit.

Tom is half of the celebrated Canadian duo Mark Haines & Tom Leighton. Haines and Leighton have three CDs, “Foot to Floor”, “Optimists Jig” and “Hand to Hand”, the latter two with Borealis records. Haines and Leighton’s third album, Hand To Hand, won two PEI Music Awards and was nominated for an East Coast Music Award.

Tom also plays regularly with Anne Lederman, Conrad Kipping, and Danny Bakan. You will hear Tom on a number of prominent recordings including Ron Hynes’ last three CDs, and recordings by the Irish Descendants, Danny Bakan, Ron Nigrini, Nancy White, Jed Marum, Marie Lynn Hammond, Michael Cavan Kelly, Georgette Fry, Anne Lederman and many others.

Long active in musical theatre, Tom recently was co-writer (with Suzanne Pasternak and Marion deVries) and musical director of Ship of Fire produced by the Festival Players of Prince Edward County 2009. He has also been musical director of numerous productions of the folk musical Minerva, which he co-authored with Suzanne Pasternak. Other music direction credits include the musicals “Exile“, “Picton Papers“, “Hank Williams, the Show He Never Gave”, “Fiddler On the Roof”, and “Urinetown”, and “RENT”. Tom has also been music director for the Riverdale Share Christmas revue for the past 6 years.

Orchestrating credits include the musical Anne and Gilbert (with Bob Johnston) winning accolades from public and press. Tom orchestrated several works performed by the Kingston Symphony and featuring guest artists Georgette Fry, Haines & Leighton and Ryan Malcolm – Canadian Idol winner.

Tom teaches at Wexford School for the Arts as part of their music theatre team, leading the pit band and teaching the vocal repertoire. He has also led community choirs at the Blue Skies Folk Festival and Summerfolk for several seasons and “Sing at Eaglewood“, a vocal music weekend in Pfferlaw, On.
Tom has been awarded the Cec McEachern Award as a diverse accompanist by CIUT FM. As a revered studio musician, Tom has played piano, synthesizer, accordion, Irish whistle, bodrhan to name a few, on over 70 other albums.

Visit Tom’s Website here

Ian Bell

From darkest southwestern Ontario, Ian Bell has none-the-less performed across Canada and in the United States since the late 1970s On his own and with a number of different ensembles, he has appeared at numerous folk festivals (Winnipeg, Mariposa, Edmonton, Ottawa, Yellowknife, Owen Sound, Lunenberg , Montmagny, and others) and in concerts and dances in venues ranging from Roy Thompson Hall to Randy Haskell’s barn.

Ian was first smitten by the folk songs he heard at hootenannies he attended with his parents in the very early ‘60s, and later at the Mariposa Festivals of the early ‘70s.  With the group Muddy York, and along with Wade Hemsworth (composer of the Blackfly Song, Log Driver’s Waltz), Ian performed for two weeks in the Folklife Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC. In 1993 Ian was named “Folk Artist in Residence” for that year at Joseph Schneider Haus Museum, in Kitchener, Ontario. In 1985 Ian served as artistic director for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

As a long-time freelance broadcaster, Ian has worked on many occasions with Stuart McLean on CBC Radio’s Vinyl Café. Ian has co-written and served as musical director for five Vinyl Café national concert broadcasts. For seven years Ian was a regular contributor to the weekend Fresh Air program on CBC radio. Over the years, Ian Bell has been a repeat visitor to many CBC programs including Ideas, Gabereau, Crossroads, This Morning, and Radio Noon. He also appeared numerous times on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside.

Ian has also contributed to numerous film scores and performed period music for and occasionally appeared in the TV series, The Road to Avonlea.  Ian performs material from a large repertoire that includes both Canadian traditional music and his own songs and instrumental compositions.

In 2004 Ian performed as part of the “Roots of American Music” Festival at Lincoln Centre in New York City. In July 2005 Ian travelled to Estonia with long-time collaborator Anne Lederman to perform at the Viljandi Folk Festival. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, button accordion, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, pipes) Ian appears on dozens of recordings as sideman as well as many under his own name.

Visit Ian’s comprehensive  music website here  and you can also visit his visual arts website and find this picture of Tom!

Michelle Rumball

The crucial thing to know about Michelle Rumball is that she’s a truly great singer. With a voice that’s sometimes whispery and wavering, sometimes plangent and clear, but always poignant and evocative, Rumball sings from deep wellsprings of emotion, in a way that can’t help but resonate strongly with listeners. As NOW’s Kate Pederson wrote, “I’d pay to hear her sing the phone book.”

And she’s earned every inch of that voice through her colourful and varied experience, not to mention training. Hailing from  Scarborough, Rumball sang in church choirs in her earliest years. She dove full-force into the music industry when she fronted The Grievous Angels, a pioneering band on Toronto’s nascent roots-music scene in the mid-to-late ‘80s. The band’s second album, the Juno-Award-nominated One Job Town, earned a national following and rave reviews, with many critics singling out Rumball’s voice for special mention.

Leaving the band to better find her own voice – both physical and creative – Rumball journeyed toward self-recovery by travelling all over the American South, where so much of the history of blues, jazz, gospel and storytelling lies. She hit the renowned Jazz Festival in New Orleans, hung out in Austin, and volunteered at the Kerrville Folk Festival, spending nights around the campfire listening to incredible songwriters. She made the classic Memphis pilgrimage to Sun Studios, Beale Street and Graceland. In Nashville, she met the members of Lambchop and ended up recording a song and singing with them at Springwater’s, a classic local songwriters’ hang out. There she met the notoriously cranky Townes Van Zandt, who took exception to her being from Canada, a country where he’d just had some border trouble. But Rumball’s new Lampchop friends came to her rescue, so she escaped unscathed.

Unable to resist the magical pull of New Orleans, Rumball spent several years living there, soaking up every tuba run and trumpet blast, and falling in love with Dr. John, radio station WWOZ and Danny Barker, among others. She took in jazz funerals, parades and gospel shows. She continued searching for her voice by studying with several teachers, including a master teacher in New York City.

Having ultimately found her voice, Rumball returned to Toronto and established herself as a redoubtable and welcome presence on the scene, often playing live – both solo and with some or all the members of her Beauty Saloon band – to rooms full of rapt listeners. In 2001, she released her debut solo album, Terrain. The Skydiggers’ Andy Maize declared it “a great listening record.” The CBC’s Bill Richardson was “seduced by the sheer poetry of it.” The Vancouver Sun said “Rumball’s songs on Terrain are enchanting, soulful and deeply satisfying.” It was recorded live off the floor in a renovated church, now known as Catherine North Studios, in Hamilton, and produced by Dave “Rave” Des Roches and Glenn Marshall. It features Rumball’s distinctive, beautiful vocals and raw lyrics, telling stories of real people and familiar places – often the ones she’s found in her travels.

Conrad Kipping

A frequent collaborator with Tom Leighton, Conrad is a versatile musician, who like many roots players, can pick up a variety of instruments with ease.  He plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar and you will also enjoy hearing him on vocals too.  Recent performances include a number at the Waring House in Picton, and Georgetown Musictown.  When he’s not playing up a storm, he doubles during the day as an insurance broker with no plan to retire from either world any time soon.