Stage Door News

Toronto: Trio Arabica joins Tafelmusik for “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House”

Monday, February 4, 2019

Tafelmusik’s groundbreaking multimedia fusion of Saxon and Arabic music, Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House, returns to Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre under the direction of Elisa Citterio from February 21 to 24, 2019, before embarking on a six-city tour of the United States. 

Inspired by the opulent world of 18th-century Saxon and Syrian coffee houses, Tales of Two Cities is performed entirely from memory by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra with narration by actor Alon Nashman. In addition to music by European baroque composers such as Telemann, Handel, and Bach, audiences will hear classical Arabic music performed by Trio ArabicaMaryem Tollar, voice and qanun; Demetri Petsalakis, oud; and Naghmeh Farahmand, percussion. Complete program details are available at

Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House was conceived, programmed, and scripted by Tafelmusik’s double bassist since 1979, Alison Mackay, who retires as a core orchestra member at the end of the current season. This immersive multimedia program received rapturous critical acclaim at its May 2016 Toronto concert premiere and was named Best Concert of 2016 by the Spanish classical music magazine Tales of Two Cities was filmed before a live audience in 2017 at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and is available on DVD and CD.

From February 27 to March 11, 2019, Tafelmusik and Trio Arabica take Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House to six U.S. cities. The tour culminates in Los Angeles with a concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, part of the LA Philharmonic’s centennial season. Tales of Two Cities will also be seen in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre on March 26, 2019.
Tafelmusik’s creative multimedia performances have delighted critics and audiences alike, and Tales of Two Cities is no exception. "Playing at the peak of their form for two hours, having memorized the entire concert … supported by text, images and a clever storyline, it’s no wonder so many of Mackay’s creations have been performed for audiences around the world – there’s really nothing like them" (The Globe and Mail).

Stage direction for Tales of Two Cities is by Marshall Pynkoski, co-artistic director of Opera Atelier. Production design is by Glenn Davidson, and projections are designed by Raha Javanfar.
Tales of Two Cities was developed in a residency at Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's University in Kingston, and in collaboration with the Aga Khan Museum. It is generously supported by The Pluralism Fund and by a gift from an anonymous benefactor. iA Securities is a Concert Sponsor for the February 21-24, 2019 performances.

Tafelmusik U. S. Tour itinerary | Feb 28 to March 10, 2019:

• Feb 28, 2019 | State College, PA |Schwab Auditorium, Penn State University

• Mar 4, 2019 | Boulder, CO | Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, University of Colorado

• Mar 6, 2019 | Denver, CO | Gates Hall, University of Denver

• Mar 8, 2019 | Stanford, CA | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University

• Mar 9, 2019 | Santa Barbara, CA | Lobero Theatre

• Mar 10, 2019 | Los Angeles, CA | Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra presents
Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House
with Trio Arabica and narrator Alon Nashman

Thu Feb 21, Fri Feb 22, Sat Feb 23 at 8pm, Sun Feb 24 at 3:30pm
Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West

Elisa Citterio, Music Director
Created by Alison Mackay
Maryem Tollar, Narrator & Vocalist
Alon Nashman, Narrator
with Trio Arabica

Regular & 65+: From $38 | Youth (18 and under) - $30 |Tafelscene (19-35 yrs)- $30, best available seating, only available through Tafelscene email list sign-up
Koerner Hall Box Office: (416) 408-0208