Creative Women Doing Sixty: Jeanne Lamon Takes Home Centre Stage

by Mehreen Shahid, TEC Intern

Published at 2013-02-14

Even as she was learning to co-ordinate fine motor skills using her tiny fingers at three years old, Jeanne Lamon knew she was meant to play the violin. It was as if her soul was reflected in the music produced by the instrument. She began studying the violin at the age of seven in her hometown of Queens, New York. She made it a lifelong career choice when she went to Brandeis University, Boston, to earn a Bachelor of Music degree, and studied with famous violinists who were making headlines for the Julliard Quartet.
Her move to Holland in the 1970s to study baroque music helped establish her name in the field when she returned to the United States. Her talent was soon recognized across the border in Canada where two guest appearances made for Tafelmusik won her an offer for the position of music director in 1981. Her gift is not limited to playing the violin brilliantly but is also contained in her ability to synthesize, visualize and lead the orchestra like a magician mesmerising the audience.
Originality and Innovation
Lamon likes to go into the depths of producing music; to her, Tafelmusik is all about producing music closest to what it was originally intended to sound like. She wants the audience to feel the joy or the pain the composer felt and the music he helped to express. Even though what the orchestra plays is comprised mostly of baroque music, Lamon has encouraged her team to explore music beyond the composers she names as her favourites: Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi. They have played Rossini, and have recorded a Weber opera, too.
Since she joined Tafelmusik as music director, she has been on numerous tours across Canada. The orchestra has also wowed audiences in Europe and Australia. Lamon is passionate about using technology as a tool for reaching wider audiences and drawing the younger generation to a taste of baroque music. She speaks dearly of their multidisciplinary project called The Galileo Project, which uses a number of images from the Hubble Space Telescope and a narrative to enhance the musical experience.
Change Is Inevitable
In 2014, following 33 years with Tafelmusik, Lamon will be retiring, but she will remain with the company as music director emerita. Her comments regarding her retirement appeared in the Canadian Jewish News (January 3, 2013) in which she expresses great joy at having been part of a most wonderful team of musicians and says that there could not be a better time to transition than while things are going well. Apart from remaining as emerita at Tafelmusik, she also intends to continue teaching at the Royal Conservatory of Music and at the University of Toronto.
Jeanne Lamon has truly revived baroque music using Tafelmusik as a platform, and she has done it with an artistic charm and grace. Her contributions to baroque music will influence musicians and audiences for generations to come.