Transcript: Jeanne Lamon | Jan 18, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in wooden chairs, in a large church nave with a red carpet: “Jeanne Lamon. Tafelmusik.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a blue suit, striped blue shirt, and yellow tie.

He says I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
CANADA HAS MANY DISTINCTIVE
EXPORTS IN THE CULTURAL WOULD,
BUT ONE OF, I THINK, THE
MOST DISTINCTIVE AND MOST
SUCCESSFUL THAT WE HAVE IS
THE MUSIC ENSEMBLE KNOWN
AS TAFELMUSIK.
WITH ME TODAY IS
THE MUSIC DIRECTOR.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH JEANNE LAMON.

Jeanne is in her fifties, with short wavy black hair. She’s wearing a bright red blouse and a thin gold necklace.

Richard continues SO JEANNE, FIRST OF ALL, LET'S
GET THIS STRAIGHT FOR THE
PEOPLE OUT THERE WHOSE GERMAN
MAY NOT BE IMPECCABLE.
TAFELMUSIK, LITERALLY?

Jeanne says MEANS BANQUET MUSIC.

Richard says BUT THIS ISN'T DINNER
THEATRE STUFF THAT YOU PLAY.
WHERE DOES THE TERM COME FROM?

Jeanne says ABSOLUTELY NOT.
IT COMES FROM SOMETHING
THAT DOESN'T REALLY EXIST
ANYMORE TODAY.
IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE 18th
CENTURY, THE MUSIC WE PLAY IS
FROM THE 17th AND
18th CENTURIES.
IF YOU IMAGINE, WHAT DID
PEOPLE DO FOR ENTERTAINMENT
IN THE EVENING WITHOUT
TELEVISION, WITHOUT
ELECTRICITY, THEY
COULDN'T EASILY READ.
THEY NEEDED TO BE ENTERTAINED.
AND PARTICULARLY THE COURT --
THE KINGS, THE QUEENS,
THE VARIOUS DUKES AND CLERGY
AND SO ON, WANTED TO BE
ENTERTAINED IN THE EVENINGS.
HOW DID THEY DO THIS?
THEY HIRED MUSICIANS, DANCERS,
THEATRICAL PEOPLE, POETS TO
READ, ALL KINDS OF
ENTERTAINERS TO ENTERTAIN THEM
IN THE HOURS AROUND DINNER.
AND IF THEY WERE ENTERTAINING,
IMAGINE A COURT IN VENICE
ENTERTAINING THE NOBILITY
THAT HAD JUST COME IN FROM
SOUTHERN GERMANY
OR SOMETHING.
THEY WOULD SHOW THEM A VERY
LOVELY MEAL, AND BETWEEN THE
COURSES, THERE WOULD
BE ENTERTAINMENT.
THERE MIGHT BE A PLAY.
THERE MIGHT BE
MUSIC PERFORMED.
THERE MIGHT BE DANCING.
COULD BE AN OPERA,
COULD BE ANYTHING.
ANY KIND OF ART FORM.
AND THAT WAS HOW
EVENINGS WERE WILED AWAY.
THE WINTER EVENINGS THAT START
AT THREE IN THE AFTERNOON.

Richard says OUTSIDE OF THE ARTISTIC
SUCCESS OF TAFELMUSIK, WHICH
WE'LL COME BACK TO, IT'S VERY
POPULAR IN THAT THE PEOPLE
WHO SUBSCRIBE AND WHO ARE
REGULARS AND SUPPORT YOU,
IT'S NOT JUST SOMETHING THEY
DO BECAUSE THEY FEEL THIS IS
CULTURAL OR WORTHY,
THEY FEEL INCLUDED.
IT'S A VERY INCLUSIVE
ART FORM, ISN'T IT?

Jeanne says I THINK IT VERY MUCH IS.
I THINK IT HAS SOMETHING
TO DO WITH THE SPACE.
IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH A
CERTAIN KIND OF ENERGY THAT
WE PUT OUT WHEN WE PERFORM,
THAT I THINK IS SOMETIMES
LACKING
OR IN PEOPLE'S IMAGINATION IS
LACKING IN THEIR PERCEPTION
OF THE WAY CLASSICAL
MUSIC IS PERFORMED.
IT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO
DO WITH THE VENUES.
IT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO
DO WITH THE PERFORMANCES
THAT THEY'VE HEARD.
THEY THINK OF IT AS A STAID,
DISTANT FORM, THAT THEY CAN'T
KIND OF RELATE TO.
I THINK, WITH THE WAY WE MAKE
MUSIC, AND THE PLACE WE MAKE
MUSIC, AND THE KIND OF MUSIC
WE ARE PLAYING, THE AUDIENCE
FEELS VERY MUCH INCLUDED,
AND THEY DEFINITELY FIND THE
MUSIC ACCESSIBLE.

Richard says YOU TALKED ABOUT THE WAY WE
MAKE MUSIC BECAUSE IT'S NOT
JUST THAT YOU'RE PLAYING MUSIC
FROM THIS PARTICULAR PERIOD,
AND YOU ARE PLAYING IT
IN A SPACE LIKE THIS,
BUT YOUR WHOLE APPROACH,
DOWN TO YOUR INSTRUMENTS.

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Jeanne Lamon. Tafelmusik.”

Jeanne says THAT'S RIGHT.
THE WHOLE APPROACH IS TO
BRING THE MUSIC TO LIFE AS
MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
IT'S GREAT MUSIC.
I THINK IT'S ARGUABLY THE
BEST MUSIC THAT THE WESTERN
CIVILIZATION HAS
EVER PRODUCED.
I MEAN, THERE ARE PEAKS IN
ARCHITECTURES, AND THERE ARE
PEAKS IN PAINTING, AND THERE
ARE PEAKS IN MUSIC, AND I
THINK IT'S CERTAINLY ONE OF
THE GREAT PEAKS IN WESTERN
CIVILIZATION, IN TERMS OF THE
MUSIC THAT HAS BEEN PRODUCED.
AND WE ALL ARE VERY FOND OF THAT
MUSIC, THE MUSICIANS INVOLVED.
AND TO DO IT JUSTICE, WE FEEL
WE MUST PLAY IT ON THE RIGHT
INSTRUMENTS, AND IN THE RIGHT
KIND OF VENUE, AND WITH THE
RIGHT KIND OF SPIRIT.
SO IT'S AN ABSOLUTELY ALL
ENCOMPASSING WAY OF LIFE.
IT'S NOT JUST AN ATTEMPT TO
RECREATE A HISTORICAL, YOU
KNOW, PRECISE PIECE OF
HISTORICAL INFORMATION THAT
COULD BE IN A MUSEUM THAT
PEOPLE LOOK AT THROUGH GLASS.
IT'S QUITE THE CONTRARY.
IT'S TO BRING THE
MUSIC TO LIFE.
TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM THAT KIND
OF THING, AND TO SPEAK TO
TODAY'S AUDIENCES.
AND I THINK, ACTUALLY, THERE'S
SOMETHING ABOUT THE MUSIC
THAT DOES SPEAK TO
TODAY'S AUDIENCES,
MORE THAN A LOT OF
OTHER STYLES OF MUSIC.

Richard says I THINK SO MUCH OF WHAT
WE DO NOW IS DISTANCED BY
ELECTRONIC, AND LAYERS UPON
LAYERS, BUT THE IDEA OF THE
ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTS, THE
MUSIC, THE SPACE, IT BECOMES
A PURE EXPERIENCE.

Jeanne says YES, I THINK, ALSO THERE'S A
LOT OF ORDER AND HARMONY IN
BAROQUE MUSIC.
AND THERE ISN'T AN AWFUL LOT
OF ORDER AND HARMONY IN A LOT
OF OUR LIVES.
THERE'S A LOT OF UNANSWERED
QUESTIONS IN SOCIETY, AND IN
OUR LIVES TODAY.
THERE ARE A LOT OF TROUBLING
QUESTIONS OUT THERE.
AND I THINK BAROQUE MUSIC,
SOMEHOW, GIVES YOU THE
PEACEFUL SENSE THAT
THERE ARE ANSWERS.
THAT THERE IS SOME
ULTIMATE ORDER TO THINGS.
THAT IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY.
AND IT DOES THAT WITHOUT
TAKING AN HOUR AND A HALF,
AS A MAHLER SYMPHONY
DOES TO DO IT.
IT GIVES YOU THAT SENSE, ON A
VERY PROFOUND LEVEL, IT CAN
BE VERY RESTFUL AND VERY
REASSURING, AND VERY PROFOUND.
AND IT CAN DO ALL OF
THAT IN A PIECE OF MUSIC
THAT LASTS SIX MINUTES.

Richard says YOU TALKED ABOUT,
WE HAVE TO PLAY IT
ON THE RIGHT INSTRUMENTS.
THIS IS A BIG DEBATE
IN MUSICAL CIRCLES.
OF COURSE, TAFELMUSIK
IS DEVOTED TO USING
ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTS.

Jeanne says THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says IN A NUTSHELL, FOR NON-MUSICAL
EXPERTS WATCHING AT HOME,
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN LITERALLY?

Jeanne says I'LL TELL YOU
EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS.
THE INSTRUMENTS THAT THE
GREATEST VIOLIN MAKER WHO EVER
LIVED, STRADIVARIUS, WE
ALL KNOW THAT NAME,
IT'S A HOUSEHOLD TERM.
HE WAS A BAROQUE VIOLIN MAKER.
HE LIVED IN ITALY, IN CREMONA
SPECIFICALLY, HE MADE VIOLINS
FROM ABOUT 1650 TO
ABOUT 1730, ROUGHLY.
AND IN THAT PERIOD, HE
PRODUCED VIOLINS WHICH ARE
EXACTLY LIKE THE VIOLINS THAT
WE'RE PLAYING IN TAFELMUSIK.
LIKEWISE THE VIOLAS, THE
CELLOS, AND ALL THE WIND
INSTRUMENTS, ARE THE
INSTRUMENTS THAT WOULD HAVE
BEEN PLAYED AT THAT TIME.
THEY WERE THE INSTRUMENTS THAT
BACH KNEW IN HIS ORCHESTRA,
THAT VIVALDI KNEW IN
HIS ORCHESTRA, ETC.
AND WHAT HAPPENED OVER THE
YEARS WAS THAT PEOPLE STILL
PLAY STRADIVARIUS VIOLINS, SO
I KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT
THERE WONDERING, WHAT ARE YOU
TELLING ME, THEY'RE PLAYING
DIFFERENT
STRADIVARIUS VIOLINS?
ARE THERE TWO STRADIVARIUS?
WHAT ARE YOU TELLING ME?
I'M SAYING THAT THE BODY OF
THE VIOLIN HAS ACTUALLY NOT
BEEN ALTERED.
BUT WHAT HAS BEEN ALTERED OVER
THE YEARS, JUST DUE TO THE
NECESSITY OF PROJECTING IN
LARGER AND LARGER HALLS AND
PLAYING LOUDER AND LOUDER,
IS THAT VIOLINISTS HAVE GONE
TO THEIR MAKERS, THE VIOLIN
MAKER, THERE IS ALWAYS A
VIOLIN MAKER IN TOWN, AND YOU GO
TO HIM WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
YOU SAY, IT'S NOT LOUD
ENOUGH, I CAN'T PROJECT.
MAKE MY VIOLIN LOUDER.
AND THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING
THEY CAN FIND TO DO.
THEY CAN PUT MORE TENSION ON
THE INSTRUMENT SOMEWHERE.
AND THESE ARE ALL
SUPERFICIAL THINGS.
THERE'S LIKE THE BRIDGE
WHICH HOLDS UP THE STRINGS,
WHICH IS A PIECE THAT
ONE CAN REPLACE EASILY.
YOU CAN PUT MORE WOOD IN IT,
AND MAKE IT A LITTLE THICKER,
SO IT CAN TAKE MORE TENSION.
YOU CAN MAKE IT A LITTLE
HIGHER, THEN THE STRINGS ARE
UNDER MY TENSION.
THERE ARE MANY
THINGS YOU CAN DO.
AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS WERE
GRADUALLY DONE OVER HISTORY,
BUT YOU LOSE SOMETHING
VERY, VERY --

Richard says WHAT'S THE SOUND
LIKE FROM YOURS?

Jeanne says YOU CAN GET MUCH MORE NUANCE
OUT OF THE INSTRUMENT.
AND IT HAS A RESONANCE THAT
SORT OF DOES THE SHAPE OF THIS
ROOM, THE SHAPE OF A CHURCH.
IT RESONATES LIKE A MEGAPHONE.
IT RESONATES IN ROUND CIRCLES
COMING OUT OF THE INSTRUMENT.
IT'S JUST WHAT I
CALL VERY RESONANT.
WHEREAS A MODERN INSTRUMENT
HAS A PROJECTION MORE LIKE
A LASER BEAM.
AND IT DOESN'T DO
THIS, IT DOES
THAT.
AND THAT'S WHAT YOU NEED, IF YOU
WANT TO PROJECT BRAHM'S VIOLIN
CONCERTO OVER AN ORCHESTRA
OF A HUNDRED MUSICIANS.
OR STRAVINSKY OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
ON THE OTHER HAND, IF YOU
ARE PLAYING A BACH VIOLIN
CONCERTO WITH AN ORCHESTRA OF
15 PLAYERS IN A ROOM THAT'S
FAIRLY SMALL, THAT'S
REALLY OVERKILL.
AND IT IS GOING TO SOUND
AGGRESSIVE FOR THE MUSIC.

Richard says SHRILL?

Jeanne says IT'S GOING TO SOUND
SHRILL, ABSOLUTELY.

Richard says SO WHEN PEOPLE COMPLAIN
ABOUT WHAT THEY CALL THE
SQUEAKINESS OF A LOT OF
STRING MUSIC TODAY, THAT'S
WHAT THEY ARE HEARING.

Jeanne says I THINK SO.
I THINK THEY ARE ALSO HEARING,
AND I PROBABLY SHOULDN'T SAY
THIS, BUT I WILL SAY IT, I
THINK THEY ARE ALSO HEARING
THE QUALITY OF DIGITAL
RECORDING, OF CDs.
I THINK THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE
SAID THAT WITH THE ANALOG
RECORDINGS WE USED TO HAVE.

Richard says YOU KNOW WHAT'S AMAZING
TALKING TO YOU, I COME TO
REALIZE THIS WHOLE APPROACH,
IT'S NOT JUST A MATTER OF,
OH, WE WANT TO PLAY THESE
INSTRUMENTS, OH, WE WANT TO
DO THIS, IT REALLY
IS A WHOLE CHOICE.
IT'S A SPIRITUAL AS WELL
AS A CULTURAL CHOICE.
IT EXTENDS INTO OTHER
ASPECTS OF THE GROUP.
UNLIKE OTHER GROUPS ARE
MUSICIANS GO OFF TO PLAY
HIGGELDY-PIGGELDY ALL OVER THE
PLACE, THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN
HERE, DOES IT?

Jeanne says VERY LITTLE.
BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE
MUCH TIME FOR THAT.
WE HAVE ALMOST FULL-TIME
EMPLOYMENT AT TAFELMUSIK,
PLAYING TOGETHER AS A GROUP.
AND THAT'S ACTUALLY UNIQUE.
NOT ONLY IN CANADA, NOT
ONLY IN NORTH AMERICA,
BUT REALLY IN THE WORLD.
THERE IS NO OTHER BAROQUE
ORCHESTRA ON ORIGINAL
INSTRUMENTS THAT PLAYS
TOGETHER ALL THE TIME.
AS A RESULT, WE
HAVE OUR OWN SOUND.
WE HAVE OUR OWN PROCESS FOR
MAKING MUSIC, OUR OWN WAY
OF REHEARSING.
WE UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER.

Richard says YOU MUSIC DIRECT FROM THE
CHAIR, AND YOU PLAY YOURSELF.

Jeanne says THAT'S RIGHT.
THAT'S AUTHENTIC, TOO.
THAT'S A VERY
IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE.
BECAUSE A CONDUCTOR PUTS
A CERTAIN DISTANCE BETWEEN
HIMSELF, USUALLY HIMSELF, AND
THE PLAYERS OF THE ORCHESTRA,
AND SETS UP AN AUTOCRATIC
KIND OF INTERACTION
WITH THE ORCHESTRA.
AND THAT'S NECESSARY FOR
LATER REPERTOIRE TO KEEP IT
TOGETHER AND FOR LARGER GROUPS.
THERE'S A CRITICAL MASS
AFTER WHICH YOU REALLY
HAVE TO HAVE A CONDUCTOR.

Richard says AND SOMETIMES YOU
HAVE CONDUCTORS.

Jeanne says YEAH.
FOR THE LARGER WORKS, AND FOR
CHORAL WORKS, WE HAVE CONDUCTOR.

Richard says WHAT DIFFERENCE EXISTS WHEN
A CONDUCTOR IS OUT THERE
LEADING A GROUP?

Jeanne says I FIND IT SETS UP
A DIFFERENT DYNAMIC.
THAT THE ORCHESTRA SUDDENLY
IS BEING DICTATED TO,
HOW TO PLAY EXACTLY EVERY NOTE.
AND THERE IS A CERTAIN JOY OF
MUSIC MAKING THAT IS A LITTLE
BIT TAKEN AWAY FOR THE HONOUR
AND GLORY OF THE CONDUCTOR.
THAT OFTEN IS THE CASE.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE.
IN THE BEST
CIRCUMSTANCES, IT'S NOT.
BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING,
WHAT WE DO IS DEMAND MORE
INVOLVEMENT ON THE
PART OF THE MUSICIANS.
IT DEMANDS THAT THE MUSICIANS
SIT ON THE EDGE OF THEIR CHAIR.
TAKE MORE RESPONSIBILITY EACH
ONE INDIVIDUALLY FOR THE
WHOLE RESULT.
AND IT'S CHAMBER MUSIC
MAKING IS WHAT WE CALL IT
IN THE BUSINESS.
AND WHAT THAT MEANS TO ANY
MUSICIAN IS THAT THEY
HAVE A SAY.
THAT'S WHAT IT REALLY MEANS.
WHEN YOU SAY, THAT'S WHY
MUSICIANS IN ALL SYMPHONY
ORCHESTRAS, WHAT THEY WANT
TO DO IN THEIR FREE TIME, IS
THEY WANT TO PLAY
CHAMBER MUSIC.
AND IT BECOMES
LIKE A RELIGION.
I WANT TO PLAY CHAMBER MUSIC.
THIS IS WHAT I PRAY FOR.
BECAUSE IT'S THE ONE PLACE
WHERE MY OPINION ABOUT HOW THE
MUSIC SHOULD GO COUNTS.

Richard says SO HOW DOES THE DYNAMIC WORK?
YOU ARE THE MUSIC DIRECTOR,
AND YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE A
CONCEPT OR AN IDEA OF A PIECE.

Jeanne says ABSOLUTELY.

Richard says SO YOU'RE IN REHEARSAL.

Jeanne says WELL, I HAVE AN
IDEA OF A PIECE.
I COME IN, AND I HAVE
DEFINITELY WORKED OUT
BROAD STROKES.
I DEFINITELY KNOW WHAT I
THINK THE PIECE IS ABOUT.
THEREFORE, WHAT SPEED IT
SHOULD GO AT, THEREFORE MANY
OF THE ROUGH
OUTLINES OF DYNAMICS.
BECAUSE IN BAROQUE MUSIC, THEY
HAVE VERY PRIMITIVE NOTATION.
IF YOU PLAY A PIECE BY
STRAVINSKY OR BARTOK,
EVERY DYNAMIC MARKING,
EVERY POSSIBLE NUANCE IS
ACTUALLY NOTATED.
YOU HAVE ACCENTS,
DIMINUENDOS ON SINGLE NOTES.
YOU'LL HAVE FOUR OR FIVE
MARKINGS SOMETIMES.
IN BAROQUE MUSIC, THERE MIGHT
BE ONE DYNAMIC, IF ANY,
IN A WHOLE MOVEMENT.
BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY
DIDN'T PLAY WITH DYNAMICS.
IT MEANS THAT A LOT WAS LEFT
TO THE PERFORMER'S DISCRETION.
THERE'S A LOT OF
REASONS FOR THAT.
PARTLY, THE PERFORMERS AND
COMPOSERS WERE OFTEN THE SAME
PERSON, IN THOSE DAYS.
THE PIECES THAT BACH WROTE, HE
PERFORMED, SO HE DIDN'T NEED
TO WRITE ALL THE DYNAMICS IN.
THE SAME WITH CORELLI, THE
SAME WITH ALL THOSE COMPOSERS.
THEY WERE ALWAYS EITHER
INVOLVED IN THE PERFORMANCE,
OR IT WAS WRITTEN
FOR THEMSELVES.
SO IT'S KIND OF A SHORT HAND.

Richard says IT'S ACTUALLY LIKE
SHAKESPEARE AND HIS ACTING
COMPANY AT THE GLOBE, THE SAME
THING, HIS SCRIPTS DIDN'T
HAVE MUCH IN IT BECAUSE THEY
KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Jeanne says BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT
WAS GOING ON, AND IT WAS
A LIVE TRADITION.
AND THE PROBLEM IS THE
TRADITION IS BROKEN.
SO WE HAVE TO RESURRECT THE
TRADITION THAT THEY HAD THEN,
AND FIGURE OUT WHAT
THEY WERE DOING.

Richard says WE KNOW HOW WE START AND
YOU SAID YOU HAD THE BROAD
STROKES AND THE CONCEPT.

Jeanne says THAT'S IT.

Richard says BUT DO THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS
SOMETIMES SAY TO YOU,
WELL, I FEEL, 'DA DA'?

Jeanne says ABSOLUTELY.
NOW AND THEN, SOMETHING THAT
I'VE COME UP WITH EITHER
DOESN'T WORK IN
SOME SMALL WAY.
IT NEEDS FINE TUNING.
WHAT I COME IN WITH IS ROUGH.
IT NEEDS FINE TUNING.
I CANNOT, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE
FOR ONE PERSON, THEY CAN TELL
YOU WHATEVER THEY WANT, AND
I WILL NOT BELIEVE SUCH A
PERSON EXISTS, THAT CAN SEE
EVERY DETAIL OF EVERY PART,
AND HAVE WORKED OUT EVERY
DETAIL OF EVERY PART IN SUCH
A WAY THAT THERE ARE NO
QUESTIONS, THERE IS NO ROOM
FOR VARIETY AND NO
ROOM FOR PERSONALITY.
I THINK WHAT WE STRIVE FOR AT
TAFELMUSIK IS NOT TO SOUND
LIKE EVERY INDIVIDUAL HAS
TOTALLY EFFACED THEMSELVES TO
JUST CEASE TO EXIST IN
DEFERENCE TO THE WHOLE.
THAT IS NOT THE
IDEAL OF TAFELMUSIK.
IT IS NOT THE IDEAL
OF BAROQUE MUSIC.
THAT IS THE IDEAL OF LATER
ROMANTIC MUSIC THAT THE WHOLE,
TOTAL THING IS WHAT MATTERS,
AND YOU ARE JUST A LITTLE COG
IN THE WHEEL, AND YOUR
INDIVIDUALITY IS NOT ONLY NOT
INTERESTING, IT IS A NEGATIVE
THING TO THE ULTIMATE --
WE DON'T WANT THAT EXPRESSED.
KEEP A LID ON IT.
WE DON'T WANT TO
KNOW ABOUT THAT.
WHEREAS, WITH BAROQUE MUSIC,
THERE IS A LOT OF ROOM FOR A
LOT OF INDIVIDUALITY, A LOT
OF PERSONALITY, COMING OUT OF
EVERY INDIVIDUAL PLAYER
AT THE SAME TIME.
IT'S STRIKING A
BALANCE BETWEEN THAT.
AND THERE IS A LOT OF
TEMPERAMENT IN TAFELMUSIK,
I CAN ASSURE YOU.

Richard says REALLY?
SO IT'S NOT ALL...

Jeanne says OH, MY WORD.

Richard says THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IT SOUND
LIKE IT MUST BE THIS KIND OF
BEAUTIFUL COMMUNE, EXCEPT
ON ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTS.

Jeanne says IT'S FANTASTIC.
WE ALL ARE VERY STRONG
INDIVIDUALS WITH VERY STRONG
MUSICAL PERSONALITIES, WHICH
I THINK IS THE STRENGTH.
AND THERE IS FINDING, IF WE
ALL HAVE THE SAME INTENTIONS,
WE MAY NOT EXPRESS THEM THE
SAME WAY EXACTLY, BUT WE'LL
EXPRESS THEM SIMILARLY ENOUGH
THAT YOU WILL DEFINITELY GET
THE MESSAGE AS A LISTENER, BUT
YOU WON'T BE OVERWHELMED BY
EVERY LITTLE STITCH
BEING IN PLACE.
IT'S NOT THAT THERE IS
SLOPPINESS, BUT THERE'S LIFE.

Richard says ROOM FOR LIFE.

Jeanne says IT'S A LEVEL OF LIFE
IN THE PRODUCT, I THINK.

Richard says WHEN YOU TRY TO CONVEY WHAT
YOU FEEL A PIECE SHOULD BE
LIKE, WITHOUT GIVING AWAY
YOUR TRADE SECRETS,
DO YOU USE METAPHOR?

Jeanne says WHENEVER I CAN.
IF I THINK OF SOMETHING,
SOMETIMES, YEAH.
SOMETIMES IT'S JUST WIND
THROUGH THE LEAVES.
AND SOMETIMES IT
IS BABBLING BROOKS.

Richard says NATURE OR COLOUR?

Jeanne says ABSOLUTELY.
THAT SOUNDS ANGRY
AND BRIGHT RED.

Richard says CAN WE THINK OF SOMETHING
DEEP BURGUNDY AND PURPLE
OR SOMETHING?

Jeanne says SOMETIMES IT'S COLOUR,
SOMETIMES IT'S VISUAL IMAGES.
OFTEN TIMES IT IS
JUST MUSICAL THINGS.
A GENTLER ATTACK.
THAT KIND OF THING.

Richard says DO YOU RETHINK A
PIECE OVER THE YEARS?

Jeanne says ABSOLUTELY.
BUT TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION,
THERE IS A LOT OF GIVE AND TAKE.
THERE IS A LOT OF DISCUSSION.
THE FIRST REHEARSAL IS MOSTLY
ME CONVEYING TO EVERYONE THE
BROAD STROKES, AND THE OTHER
MUSICIANS GETTING SORT OF
ONBOARD, TO KNOW THE MUSIC, AT
LEAST SOMEWHAT, SO THEY HAVE
MORE OF A -- THEY WILL HAVE
LOOKED AT THEIR PARTS, BUT
THEY MAY NOT HAVE A SENSE OF
HOW IT ALL FITS TOGETHER.
BUT WITH ME GIVING SOME KIND
OF GUIDANCE AS TO WHAT THIS IS
ABOUT, AND ABOUT HOW FAST IT
GOES, AND PROXIMATE DYNAMIC
SCHEME, THEN THE FIRST
REHEARSAL IS MOSTLY THAT, AND
WRITING THINGS DOWN AND
LISTENING A LOT, AND PLAYING
IT A FEW TIMES.
THE NEXT REHEARSAL, PEOPLE
WILL START TO SAY, I HAVE A
VERY INTERESTING NOTE
THERE IN MY PART.
CAN YOU GIVE ME A LITTLE
SPACE TO EXPRESS IT?
I THINK IT REALLY WILL ADD TO
THE EMOTIONAL MESSAGE THAT
YOU ARE TRYING
TO GET IN THIS.
YOU WANT IT TO BE POIGNANT.
AND I HAVE A VERY POIGNANT
NOTE AND YOU ARE NOT GIVING ME
TIME TO EXPRESS IT.
SO WE ALL WRITE A LITTLE NOTE
IN OUR MUSIC TO GIVE THE
VIOLA PART A LITTLE MORE TIME
THERE BECAUSE THERE IS A
REALLY NEAT NOTE THAT
THEY WANT TO EXPRESS.
AND WITH ANOTHER PLAYER, THAT
MIGHT NOT HAVE...

Richard says AND YOU
CAN'T HEAR THIS HAPPENING
WITH A FULL ORCHESTRA IN A
LATE ROMANTIC PIECE, I
CAN'T PICTURE IT GOING ON.

Jeanne says WELL, THE CONDUCTOR COULD
SAY, A LITTLE MORE VIOLA, BUT
IT'S THE CONDUCTOR ALWAYS AT
THE KNOBS, AT THE CONTROLS,
LITTLE MORE VIOLA, LITTLE
LESS TRUMPET, A LITTLE MORE
CLARINET.
AND IT'S A ONE MAN
SHOW IN THAT SENSE.
IT'S NOT UP TO THE SECOND
CLARINET PLAYER TO SAY,
HEY, I HAVE A NICE NOTE.
COULD YOU GIVE ME -- YOU
KNOW, HE WOULDN'T LAST A DAY.

Richard says YOU SAID THE PEOPLE IN
TAFELMUSIK DON'T TOTALLY
EFFACE THEMSELVES, BUT YET I
HAVE TO TELL YOU, IT WAS VERY
HARD TO FIND OUT A LOT OF
STUFF ABOUT YOU, FOR EXAMPLE.
EVERYBODY KNOWS YOU'RE THE
MUSIC DIRECTOR, AND WE KNOW
THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE GROUP
AND HOW WELL IT'S DONE.
BUT I WAS TRYING TO DIG AROUND
TO FIND OUT, NOT DIRT, BUT
WHERE YOU CAME FROM, WHAT
YOU'RE LIKE, HOW YOU STARTED,
AND YOU'RE AN AMERICAN, RIGHT?
FROM LARCHMONT, NEW YORK?

Jeanne says THAT'S RIGHT.
YOU'VE DONE YOUR HOMEWORK.

Richard says A LITTLE BIT THERE.
BEAUTIFUL SUBURBAN NEW YORK.
A LITTLE BIT NORTHEAST
OF NEW YORK CITY.
WHAT KIND OF FAMILY?

Jeanne says PEOPLE ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW
IF MY FAMILY WAS MUSICAL?
I THINK THEY'RE ALL MUSICAL.
NONE OF THEM ARE MUSICIANS.
MY MOTHER WAS PROBABLY THE
MUSICAL SOUL OF THE FAMILY.
SHE PLAYED PIANO
AS AN AMATEUR.
SHE WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE
BEEN A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN,
BUT SHE CAME FROM THE
GENERATION WHERE WOMAN DIDN'T
WORK.
SHE WAS DISCOURAGED FROM
THAT, EXCEPT AS A HOBBY.
SHE WANTED TO PLAY THE CELLO.
SHE ALSO CAME FROM THE
GENERATION WHERE IT WAS
CONSIDERED UNFEMININE TO PLAY
THE CELLO BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO
SEPARATE YOUR KNEES IN
ORDER TO PLAY THE CELLO.
AND THAT WAS CONSIDERED AN
UNSEEMLY THING FOR WOMEN TO DO.

Richard says CONSIDERING ALL THE WONDERFUL
FEMALE CELLISTS NOWADAYS,
THAT'S --

Jeanne says LOOK AT
JACQUELINE DU PRE.
WHAT A SIN.

Richard says THERE WAS SOME MUSIC THERE.
DO YOU RECALL BEING ATTRACTED
TO MUSIC AT A VERY EARLY AGE?

Jeanne says I DO.
I WAS TOLD THE STORY THAT WHEN
I WAS THREE YEARS OLD I SAW
ISAAC STERN ON TELEVISION.
HE WAS PLAYING SOMETHING THAT
WAS TELEVISED, AND I SAID,
AND I WANTED TO DO THAT.
AND I NEVER LET
UP, APPARENTLY.
I JUST INSISTED, AND INSISTED.
FINALLY, WHEN I WAS SIX, MY
PARENTS SAID, OKAY, NOW YOU
CAN START MUSIC LESSONS.
YOU CAN HAVE RECORDER LESSONS.

Richard says BUT THAT'S NOT
WHAT YOU WANTED.

Jeanne says YOU DON'T TAKE A POTENTIAL
STRING PLAYER AND MAKE THEM
A WIND PLAYER.
IN THOSE DAYS, IT WAS ALL
JUST SORT OF WHAT ONE DID.
IN THOSE DAYS, RECORDER WAS
THE INSTRUMENT THAT YOU
STARTED ON.
EVERYBODY STARTED
ON THE RECORDER.
THERE STILL ARE SCHOOLS
THAT DO THAT WITH CHILDREN.
LESS SO.

Richard says I HAVE VISIONS TODAY
WITH THE SUZUKI SCHOOL.
AND EVERY YUPPY CHILD IN THE
WORLD HAS A VIOLIN THRUST INTO
THEIR HANDS, WHETHER
OR NOT THEY WANT TO.

Jeanne says THAT'S RIGHT.
WHICH I HAVE A LOT OF
RESERVATIONS ABOUT THAT.
BUT THAT'S A
DIFFERENT SUBJECT.
SUZUKI WASN'T AROUND
WHEN I WAS THAT AGE.
SO ANYWAY, I DID START FINALLY
THE VIOLIN AT THE AGE OF SEVEN.

Richard says EVEN AT THE AGE OF SEVEN, HOW
DID YOU EXERCISE YOUR WILL
OVER YOUR PARENTS AND SAY,
RECORDER NO, VIOLIN YES.

Jeanne says I THINK, RIGHT FROM THE
START, I WANT TO PLAY VIOLIN.
THEY SAID, IF YOU DO OKAY IN
THIS RECORDER CLASS, THEN
AFTER A YEAR YOU
CAN PLAY THE VIOLIN.
YOU HAVE TO DO THIS, THIS
IS YOUR BASIC TRAINING.

Richard says AND YOU DID.

Jeanne says AND I GUESS I DID THE MINIMAL
REQUIREMENT, AND I GUESS I
WHINED PROBABLY LOUD ENOUGH.
I THINK THE CHOICE OF
AN INSTRUMENT IS
A VERY PERSONAL ONE.
THE WRONG PERSON PLAYING A
VIOLIN WILL NOT BE INTERESTED
IN MUSIC BECAUSE -- I MEAN,
BY THE WRONG PERSON, I MEAN A
PERSON WHO IS PERFECTLY
MUSICAL AND MIGHT HAVE REALLY
TAKEN TO THE FLUTE, WHO IS
FORCED TO PLAY THE VIOLIN
BECAUSE THE PARENTS PUT THE
VIOLIN IN THEIR HANDS, AND
GIVE THEM SUZUKI LESSONS,
THEIR LOVE FOR MUSIC MAY
BE KILLED FOREVER.
I COULD NOT BE A WIND PLAYER.
IT'S A VERY PERSONALITY THING.

Richard says WHAT KIND OF PERSONALITY
IS A STRING PLAYER?

Jeanne says DEPENDS, VIOLIN, VIOLA,
CELLO, WE HAVE DIFFERENCES.

Richard says LET'S SAY VIOLIN.

Jeanne says VIOLIN PLAYERS TEND TO
BE QUITE HIGH STRUNG.

Richard says NO PUN INTENDED.

Jeanne says WELL, THE PUN IS PROBABLY
NOT ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.

They both laugh.

Jeanne continues BUT IT'S TRUE.
THEY TEND TO BE HIGH STRUNG,
A BIT NEUROTIC, AND VERY
EXTROVERTED OFTEN,
THOUGH NOT ALWAYS.
MUSICIANS AS A WHOLE, I THINK,
TEND TO BE QUITE INTROVERTED.
BUT GIVEN THAT, I THINK
VIOLINISTS TEND TO BE AMONG
THE MORE EXTROVERTED ONES.

Richard says SO WHEN YOU PICKED UP THAT
VIOLIN, DID YOU FEEL COMPLETE
WITH THE VIOLIN?

Jeanne says I ABSOLUTELY DID.
IT WAS NOT THAT HARD TO FIGURE
OUT, OH, OKAY, NOW WHAT?
WHERE ARE THE NOTES, YOU KNOW?
I'M NOT SAYING
IT SOUNDED GOOD.
IT PROBABLY SOUNDED AWFUL.
I'D HATE TO THINK.
BUT YES, IT FELT NATURAL
TO ME RIGHT FROM THE START.

Richard says SO YOU STARTED...

Jeanne says IT WAS DEFINITELY THE RIGHT
INSTRUMENT FOR ME.

Richard says SEVEN OR EIGHT, YOU KNEW YOU
WERE IN THE RIGHT INSTRUMENT,
BUT DID YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF
A TURNING POINT, LIKE IN
YOUR TEEN YEARS, WHERE YOU
DECIDED WHAT DIRECTION YOU
WERE GOING, OR MAYBE YOU
SWITCHED OR SOMETHING?

Jeanne says WELL, I DID.
AND IT'S ALWAYS ATTACHED AT
THAT AGE, TO YOUR TEACHER.
I HAD A SWITCH TO A TEACHER
WHEN I WAS 15, I SWITCHED TO A
TEACHER NAMED GABRIEL BENOTT
WHO WAS A VERY, VERY FINE
VIOLINIST, FROM A VIOLIN
TEACHER WHO HAD BEEN VERY
GOOD FOR MY FORMATIVE YEARS,
BUT I THINK I WAS STUCK
WITH HER A BIT TOO LONG.
WHEN I WENT TO HIM, I REALIZED
WHAT KIND OF WORK WAS GOING
TO BE NECESSARY TO BE A
PROFESSIONAL VIOLINIST.
AND HE BASICALLY PUT ENOUGH
PRESSURE ON ME THAT, I MEAN,
HE DID THIS VERY CONSCIOUSLY I
REALIZE NOW, IT WAS A SINK OR
SWIM KIND OF THING.
HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT IF I WAS
GOING TO -- THAT I 'HAD WHAT
IT TOOK', AS HE PUT IT, BUT IT
WAS GOING TO TAKE A LOT OF
WORK, AND I HAD TO DECIDE
SOON BECAUSE IT WAS GOING TO
TAKE A LOT OF WORK NOW.
IN ALL HONESTY I REALIZE
NOW, IT WAS A SINK OR SWIM
KIND OF THING.
HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT I HAD
WHAT IT TOOK, AS HE PUT IT,
BUT IT WAS GOING TO TAKE A
LOT OF WORK, AND I HAD TO
DECIDE SOON.

Richard says IT'S A BIG LEAP FROM GOING
FROM JUST GETTING A DEGREE IN
MUSIC AND BEING A VIOLINIST,
TO GETTING AS SPECIFIC
AS YOU GOT.

Jeanne says SO WHEN I WAS 20, OR JUST 21,
I GRADUATED FROM UNIVERSITY
WITH A B.A. IN MUSIC, AND
I HAD NOT YET STUDIED MUSIC
AS A FULL-TIME ACTIVITY,
VIOLIN AS A
FULL-TIME ACTIVITY.
IT HAD ALWAYS BEEN
A SIDE COURSE.
IT HAD BEEN WHEN I HAD TIME
LEFT AFTER MY STUDIES, BOTH IN
HIGH SCHOOL AND IN UNIVERSITY.
AND I REALIZED NOW IF I WANTED
TO GET A JOB, I REALLY NEEDED
TO FOCUS ON VIOLIN ONLY.
SO I WENT TO EUROPE, AND
I STUDIED VIOLIN ONLY.
I WENT TO A CONSERVATORY
IN AMSTERDAM.
I STUDIED WITH THE CONCERT
MASTER OF THE CONCERTGEBOUW
ORCHESTRA, HIS NAME
IS HERMAN KREBERS,
FOR TWO YEARS.
AND I PRACTICED FIVE,
SIX HOURS A DAY.
I FINALLY DID WHAT I SHOULD
HAVE BEEN DOING MUCH SOONER,
AND MADE REMARKABLE PROGRESS.
IT WAS LONG OVERDUE,
AND VERY WELCOME.
AND I ACTUALLY STILL HAD A
LIFE BECAUSE I WASN'T DOING
FIVE COURSES, AS WELL.
SO I GOT TO KNOW THE LANGUAGE,
THE CULTURE, THE CITY.
I HAD SOME FRIENDS WHO WERE
IN THE MUSIC SCHOOL WHO WERE
DOING THE SAME KIND OF THING.
WE DIDN'T THINK
WE WERE FREAKS.
MAYBE NOW I WOULD THINK THAT.

Richard says HAD YOU PICKED UP AN
ORIGIN INSTRUMENT YET?

Jeanne says NO.
I HAD NEVER PICKED UP
AN ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT.
BUT IN AMSTERDAM, AT THAT
TIME, THAT'S WHEN THE EARLY
MUSIC MOVEMENT WAS
REALLY BEING BORN.
THIS REVIVAL OF BAROQUE AND
CLASSICAL MUSIC ON ORIGINAL
INSTRUMENTS IS SOMETHING,
IT'S A BROKEN TRADITION
THAT WE'VE PICKED UP.
AND IT STARTED WITH SOME
PEOPLE IN THE LATE '60s, AND IT
STARTED IN VIENNA AND AMSTERDAM,
KIND OF SIMULTANEOUSLY.
IT'S LIKE THESE SCIENTIFIC
EXPERIMENTS WHERE THEY
DISCOVER THE CURE FOR DIABETES
AND IN FRANCE, AND IN
AUSTRALIA AND IN
MEXICO ON THE SAME DAY.
IT'S ONE OF THOSE.
AND THAT'S WHAT WAS HAPPENING.
IT WAS JUST IN THE AIR, IN THE
MUSICAL AIR, SHALL WE SAY.
AND I WAS IN THE RIGHT
PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.
AND I WENT TO CONCERTS, AND
I MET PEOPLE ON ORIGINAL
INSTRUMENTS, SOME OF THESE
PIONEERS, WHO WERE REALLY
RESURRECTING A
TRADITION THAT WAS DEAD.

Richard says YOU SAID YOU KNEW THE MINUTE
YOU PLAYED THE VIOLIN
IT WAS RIGHT FOR YOU.
WHEN YOU STARTED TO DO
ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTS, DID YOU
KNOW THAT WAS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Jeanne says EVEN MORE SO.
THE VIOLIN WAS THE RIGHT
INSTRUMENT FOR ME, BUT THERE
WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING
THAT WASN'T QUITE RIGHT.
AND WHAT WASN'T QUITE RIGHT, I
FIGURE NOW, IS THEY WANTED ME
TO PLAY ALL THESE
BIG CONCERTOS.
THEY WANTED ME TO PLAY THE
TCHAIKOVSKY CONCERTO, AND I
PRACTICED IT, AND I LEARNED
IT, BUT I DIDN'T REALLY HAVE
THE DESIRE TO BE THE BIG HERO,
AND STAND IN FRONT OF THE
ORCHESTRA AND BE
THE BIG SOLOIST.

Richard says YOU WANTED TO BE WITH
AN ENSEMBLE DOING TELEMANN.

Jeanne says I THOUGHT I WANTED TO
PLAY STRING QUARTETS.
WHEN I WAS PLAYING MODERN
VIOLIN, I THOUGHT I WANTED TO
PLAY STRING QUARTETS BECAUSE
THAT WAS THE ULTIMATE
CONSENSUS, THE ULTIMATE
IDEOLOGICAL NIRVANA.
YOU WOULD HAVE FOUR PEOPLE
WHO WOULD WORK EVERYTHING
OUT, AND AGREE BY
CONSENSUS, AND PLAY AS ONE.
AND THE REPERTOIRE
IS JUST FABULOUS.
THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT
I WANTED TO DO.
THEN I DISCOVERED ORIGINAL
INSTRUMENTS, AND FROM THERE
IT GREW.
BUT BASICALLY, IT'S THE
SAME KIND OF THINKING.
IT'S THE SAME SORT OF IDEA.

Richard says SO IT SOUNDS WONDERFUL.
YOU ARE DOING THE MUSIC YOU
LIKE, IN THE WAY YOU LIKE,
WITH A GROUP THAT YOU ALL
RESPECT AND FEED OFF EACH OTHER.
I HAVE TO ASK YOU, IS
THERE ANY DOWNSIDE?

Jeanne says WE TRAVEL A LOT.
IT CAN BE VERY EXHAUSTING.
THAT'S ABOUT IT.
I LOVE MY LIFE.

Richard says AND THE PEOPLE ARE
RESPONDING TO YOU.

Jeanne says I THINK DEFINITELY.
AND AS LONG AS THEY CONTINUE
TO, I'LL CONTINUE TO DO THIS.
AND THE DAY I FEEL THE
AUDIENCE IS SORT OF SAYING,
I'M READY FOR SOMETHING ELSE,
AS ONE VOICE, I FEEL THAT'S
REALLY COMING FROM THE
AUDIENCE, THEN I'LL DO
SOMETHING ELSE.
BECAUSE YOU CAN'T
DO IT IN A VACUUM.
IT TAKES THREE.
THERE ARE THREE
PEOPLE ON THE STAGE.
THERE'S THE COMPOSER WHO WROTE
THE MUSIC, WHENEVER HE WROTE
IT, BUT HIS THOUGHTS AND HIS
INSPIRATION ARE CRITICAL
TO THE MOMENT.
THERE'S THE PERFORMER, AND
THERE IS THE AUDIENCE.
AND YOU CAN'T GET RID
OF ANY ONE OF THEM.
IF YOU HAVE NO PERFORMER, THEN
YOU HAVE MUSIC WHICH IS A
BUNCH OF BLACK SPECKS ON
A PAGE, AND YOU HAVE AN
AUDIENCE, AND IT WOULD
BE A VERY BORING EVENING.
PEOPLE PROBABLY
WOULD STOP COMING.
IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE AN
AUDIENCE, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE
ANYTHING EITHER.
AND IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE A
COMPOSER, WHAT WOULD YOU
BE PLAYING?
SO YOU NEED ALL
OF THOSE ELEMENTS.
AND IT'S IMPOSSIBLE --
IT'S A TRIANGLE.
TRIANGLES ARE VERY STRONG.

Richard says IT'S A TRIANGLE
WITHIN A CIRCLE.
IT SOUNDS WONDERFUL.
JEANNE LAMON, THANK YOU FOR
EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE, AND
EVERYTHING YOU'LL KEEP DOING.

Jeanne says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, RICHARD.

Richard faces the screen and says
FOR DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Jeanne Lamon