Chamber Players of Toronto

The Chamber Players of Toronto. A 15-piece string ensemble, formed in 1968 by the players themselves and directed until 1977 from the first chair by the violinist Victor Martin (b Elne, France, of Spanish parents, 24 Sep 1940; a pupil of Antonio Arias, Lorand Fenyves, and Max Rostal).

Chamber Players of Toronto

The Chamber Players of Toronto. A 15-piece string ensemble, formed in 1968 by the players themselves and directed until 1977 from the first chair by the violinist Victor Martin (b Elne, France, of Spanish parents, 24 Sep 1940; a pupil of Antonio Arias, Lorand Fenyves, and Max Rostal). The success of the first two concerts (20 Feb and 10 Apr 1969 at St Lawrence Hall) led to a three-concert subscription series 1969-70 at Walter Hall, University of Toronto. In the 1973-4 season they doubled the number of concerts in their series by repeating each program, and in the 1975-6 season they tripled it by scheduling an alternative series. The main series was devoted to the Baroque and Classical repertoires, the alternative series to a mixture of Baroque, Romantic, and contemporary works. In 1977 Martin returned to Spain. Subsequent concertmasters were Marta Hidy 1977-9, Nancy Mathis DiNovo 1979-80, Agnes Roberts 1981-2, Gerard Kantarjian 1982-9, and Martin Foster 1989-92. Conductors were Winston Webber, the orchestra's first permanent conductor, 1979-83; Agnes Grossmann 1984-90; and Paavo Järvi 1991-2. There were guest conductors during the 1990-1 season.

With the exception of a three-concert series at Markham Theatre in 1984, the orchestra presented six concerts per season beginning in 1978. The orchestra's regular venue became Town Hall (later the Jane Mallet Theatre) in the St Lawrence Centre in 1985. The players performed in other Ontario centres and in Quebec City, broadcast on CJRT FM (Toronto) and CBC radio and TV, gave concerts in schools and at summer music camps, and appeared 1987-8 at the Guelph Spring Festival, the Saugeen Bach Festival, and the Festival of the Sound. In November 1990, with Grossmann, the orchestra toured in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany. The Chamber Players of Toronto disbanded after its final concert 31 May 1992.

The Chamber Players of Toronto commissioned and premiered Lothar Klein's Passacaglia of the Zodiac 15 Apr 1972, Keith Bissell's Variations on a Canadian Folk Song 24 Feb 1973, Srul I. Glick's Symphonic Elegy 20 Apr 1974, Godfrey Ridout's Concerto Grosso 18 Jan 1975, Murray Adaskin's In Praise of Canadian Painting in the Thirties 24 Jan 1976, Harry Freedman's Chalumeau (commissioned with the CBC) 13 Feb 1982 and Contrasts: The Web and the Wind) 21 Nov 1986, Harry Somers' Concertante 17 Feb 1983, Gary Kulesha's Lifesongs 18 Nov 1986, and Jacques Hétu's Poème 16 Nov 1989. Soloists included Robert Aitken, James Campbell, Angela Cheng, Lorand Fenyves, André Laplante, Nexus, the Orford String Quartet, Janos Starker, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Patrick Wedd.

Founding manager Mabel H. Laine served 1969-79, and was followed by joint managers Barbara Mancktelow and Pat Carter 1979, Barbara Mackenzie 1981-2, Susan Harvey 1982-4, Penelope Marrett 1984-5, Alberta Dodson 1985-7, succeeded by Debra Chandler.


Further Reading

  • 'In the shadow of the giants,' Orchestras Canada, vol 5, May-Jul 1978