World-class Baroque musicians give pointers, provide guidance to St. Elizabeth Arts students

A Master Class featuring world-class Baroque Musicians was held at the YCDSB Centre for the Arts Theatre on February 29th.  The Master Class was a unique workshop and exceptional experience for vocal and instrumental music students enroled in the Board's Regional Arts Program at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill.

The distinguished group of Baroque musicians comprised of: Lucas Harris (theorbo, lute, Baroque guitar), Laura Jones (baroque cello, bass viol), and Borys Medicky (harpsichord) worked with students singers individually as they practiced Baroque songs. Baroque-style music forms a large part of the classical music canon that was composed from approximately 1600 to 1750.

The Baroque Master Class took place in front of an audience of other music students and their teachers. This was truly an extraordinary and rare experience for St. Elizabeth's Regional Arts students!

Below are profiles for the three distinguished musicians who were at the school.

Lucas Harris
Lute, Theorbo, Baroque Guitar

Lucas Harris began his musical life as a jazz guitarist in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and began to experiment with lutes during his liberal arts studies at Pomona College (Claremont, California) where he graduated summa cum laude.  He received his early music training during two years in Europe, first at the Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano as one of the first scholars of the Marco Fodella Foundation, then at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen.  He is now the regular lutenist with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and has enjoyed a busy freelance career with dozens of other ensembles, including the Toronto Consort and the Smithsonian Chamber Players.  In 2011 he decided to broaden his career by training as a choral conductor, and began graduate studies at the University of Toronto with Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt.  Just before completing his M.Mus last January, Lucas was named the new Artistic Director of the Toronto Chamber Choir.  He has also been a guest music director with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Ohio State University Opera program, the Toronto Consort, and Les Voix Baroques.

During the summer Lucas teaches at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, Oberlin Conservatory's Baroque Performance Institute, and the Vancouver Early Music Festival's Baroque Vocal Programme.  He is the founding member of the Toronto Continuo Collective (a seventeenth-century "pluck band"), the Vesuvius Ensemble (dedicated to Southern Italian folk music), and the Lute Legends Ensemble (a multi-ethnic trio of plucked instruments).  Recordings include the solo CD Baroque Lute Recital as well as a collaboration with his wife (Tafelmusik violinist Geneviève Gilardeau), The Bach/Weiss Sonata.  Lucas was praised for his work with Les voix humaines in Montréal:

"The revelation of the concert was the Torontonian lutenist Lucas Harris, who weaved a poetic thread through his infinitely subtle interventions.  The sweetness and patience of his playing . . . was astonishing."  (Le Devoir)

Laura Jones
Baroque Cello, Bass Viol

"The tuneful Laura Jones" (Barczablog) has been praised for performances on all three of her instruments: modern cello, historical cello, and viola da gamba. Her multi-faceted activities include cellist of the Windermere String Quartet, principal cellist of the Talisker Players, assistant principal of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and principal cellist/gambist of Nota Bene Baroque Players. Recently she performed the solo viola da gamba part in George Benjamin's "Written on Skin" with the Toronto Symphony, and has played to sold-out halls with Ensemble Ritmo Flamenco. She is represented on recordings by The Golden Age of String Quartets, with the Windermere String Quartet; Serenade Française, a CD of music by French composers recorded with her father, pianist Lawrence Jones; and Where Words and Music Meet: Talisker Players at Massey College.

Borys Medicky
Harpsichord

An active harpsichord soloist and continuo player, Borys Medicky has appeared with every major early music ensemble in Toronto, along with many other ensembles in cities and countries elsewhere.  Together with Lucas Harris, he founded and co-directs the Toronto Continuo Collective, an all-continuo ensemble dedicated to fostering an increased interest in the stylish basso continuo accompaniment of seventeenth-century vocal and instrumental music.  From 2006-2014 he was the artistic director of the Kitchener-based Nota Bene Baroque Players.  He has served as organist of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Toronto for almost a decade.