About us

Talisker Players is a unique ensemble of instrumentalists dedicated to collaborating with singers. We present one of the most interesting and innovative annual concert series in Toronto, and we also perform throughout southern Ontario and across the country. We are Musicians in Residence at Massey College, University of Toronto.

The history of the ensemble revolves around our passion for the particular rewards and challenges of vocal/instrumental collaboration. We began in 1995 as a flexible-sized orchestra dedicated to accompanying choirs, and we continue to work with dozens of choirs throughout southern Ontario. The Choral Music Orchestra is a favourite with choirs and audiences alike, and has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence. For more information, click here.

Talisker Players Chamber Music evolved from the original choral music orchestra. This adventurous concert series transfers our skills in vocal/instrumental collaboration to the more intimate realm of chamber music. Core players from the choral music orchestra, in varying combinations, are joined by some of Canada’s most exciting singers to explore this compelling repertoire, in which instrumental colours and sonorities interact with words in endlessly fascinating ways.

We have been widely praised for our unusual programming, and our polished and distinctive presentation. Our productions are thematic, and each includes the spoken word as well as the music. Poetry, memoirs, letters, essays, read by professional actors, are woven into the programme to elaborate on the theme and give a dramatic narrative to the production.

Memorable past programmes have included: Reflections of Eden, an exploration the natural world and of our place in it; Sense and Nonsense, an off-centre look at the world through nonsense poetry and surrealist stories; Ellis Portal, a journey through the urban landscape of Toronto after dark; The Harp of Fire, a celebration of the wisdom and the passion of the great Indian poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore; and many more (see Archives link).

Although we perform music from all periods, we have a strong commitment to the music of living composers. We have commissioned at least one new work in every season, and often more. The Fenian Cycle, which we commissioned from Toronto composer Craig Galbraith, won the Karen Kieser Prize for 2004.

We have also presented recent works from numerous young and emerging composers; and we have revived wonderful works by Canadian composers from earlier generations, such as Harry Somers, Harry Freedman, Malcolm Forsyth, Jean Coulthard, Violet Archer, and Sir Ernest MacMillan. And we’ve performed works by international composers like Lukas Foss, George Crumb, Osvaldo Golijov, John Harbison, Ernst Toch, Karl Heinz Füssl, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, Rebecca Clarke and Ivor Gurney – many of which were Canadian premieres.

Our Main Series concerts take place in the excellent acoustics and warm atmosphere of Trinity St. Paul’s Centre for the Arts, one of Toronto’s premier chamber concert locations, at 427 Bloor Street West, just west of Spadina.

Our Outreach programmes focus on the neighbourhood of Regent Park, one of the most challenged areas of the inner city. These programmes take our music out into homeless shelters and drop-in centres, to audiences almost entirely neglected by most arts groups. For more information, click here.

Our residency at Massey College, University of Toronto, includes performances on special occasions throughout the academic year. We are also available as mentors and coaches for members of the College.

Talisker Players Chamber Music is a registered charity governed by a Board of Directors. In addition to ticket sales, the organization's activities are funded by tax deductible gifts from individuals and corporations, and by grants from foundations and government agencies.