Review: Tafelmusik gives classical fans a visual history lesson

The wonders of the cosmos provided the backdrop during Sunday
The wonders of the cosmos provided the backdrop during Sunday's exquisite Cowichan Theatre performance of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Classical music will never be the same locally after last Sunday's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra played the Cowichan Theatre.

Violinist Jeanne Lamon led her sensational 16-piece company through Alison Mackay's The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres, lending visual and educational dimensions to classical fare that's traditionally just great ear candy.

But the TBO, narrating actor Shaun Smyth, and astronomical consultant John Percy, told us all about telescope inventor Galileo, and his downfall home arrest, after Venetian nobles became jealous his discoveries were stealing their thunder.

They also informed us about the life and wisdom of Britain's gravity pioneer, Sir Isaac Newton.

Music From The Time of Galileo and The Dresden Festival of the Planets perfectly backed the afternoon's respective 16th- and 17th-century biographies, after the TBO set the mood with The Harmony of the Spheres I.

Music by classical legends spanning Vivaldi, Lully, Monteverdi, Marini, Purcell, Rameau, Handel, Telemann, Weiss and others was played, by memory, by the multi-Juno winning Tafelmusik troupe that moved around the theatre, or circled the stage's period instruments, like an ancient clock.

Appropriately, a galaxy of 72 stunning photos from the Hubble telescope, NASA and elsewhere were projected on a giant circular screen above the stage.

Bach's Harmony of the Sphere's II was the finale of a truly enlightening show of aural and visual grandeur.

Classical-visual concert rating: 10 stars out of 10.

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