Tafelmusik guides musical and visual tour of Baroque Europe in 'House of Dreams'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — "House of Dreams," created and performed by Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, is a virtual visit to five European homes where great masterpieces of Baroque art were displayed on the walls and brilliant music was performed by leading composers and instrumentalists of the day. The journey begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium on the University Park campus.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $42 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student and $32 for a person 18 and younger. Buy tickets online at www.cpa.psu.edu or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 1-800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets also are available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

"House of Dreams," created by Tafelmusik double bass player Alison Mackay, allows audience members to venture through old European homes where works by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Marin Marais were played amid paintings by Johannes Vermeer, Canaletto and Antoine Watteau.

Using exquisite musicianship, gorgeous projected images and inviting narration, Tafelmusik guides concertgoers on a sensuous journey.

“No digitized projection can rival the experience of being in the same room with an original painting,” Mackay said. “But we can be grateful for the technology that allows us to step back into a time when Canaletto and Watteau were creating modern art, Bach was creating modern music and visitors could spend an hour or two in a room full of delights for the ear and the eye.”

Several features of the Venetian residence figure into production designer Glenn Davidson’s "House of Dreams" set, including the ornate frame surrounding the screen on which photos of the paintings and home interiors are projected during the concert.

“The orchestra performs everything from memory, allowing those players not tied to the floor by their instruments to circulate around the stage,” wrote Toronto Star entertainment reporter John Terauds. “Thanks to violinist (and music director) Jeanne Lamon’s leadership and the extra focus needed to play by heart, the music-making was suffused with particularly deep and vibrant colors.”

Actor Blair Williams, speaking from memory of a script written by Mackay, narrates the production.  

“He set the scene at each destination, putting the images and music into historical context using short, engaging historical references that also integrated seamlessly into a bigger picture,” Terauds noted.

Marshall Pynkoski, co-artistic director of Toronto’s Opera Atelier, provided the stage direction for House of Dreams. Tafelmusik performs the live music accompanying Opera Atelier’s production of "The Magic Flute" Thursday, April 18, at Eisenhower Auditorium.

In anticipation of the "House of Dreams" presentation, the public is invited to a free Salon Evening, An Artistic and Musical Tour of Five Magnificent Cities: Baroque Delft, Leipzig, London, Paris, and Venice, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 1, in 112 Borland Building on the University Park campus. The 90-minute salon features Penn State faculty panelists Charlotte Houghton (art history), Nancy Locke (art history), Marica Tacconi (musicology) and Robin Thomas (art history).

Gay D. Dunne and James H. Dunne sponsor the House of Dreams presentation. WPSU is the media sponsor. Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Mackay, is offered in Schwab one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders.

Photos of Tafelmusik for media use are available to download at http://cpa.psu.edu/internal/presslibrary.html.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pscpa.

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Last Updated April 29, 2013