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The fashion behind Tafelmusik’s Messiah by Handel

The fashion behind Tafelmusik’s Messiah by Handel featured image

December 5, 2017

There are three things I think about a lot: music, and its role in my personal history and present; food – how to find it, cook it, order it, and eat it; and fashion as expressed through personal style. I’ve been styling musicians as a side gig for about 20 years now, from taking them shopping to coordinating and directing their photo shoots. I find this very rewarding and I continue, to this day, arguing the point that image really does matter, and classical music needs to be aware of this more than ever. The crossover artists get it, and the classical world continues to lag behind the pop music world when it comes to using fashion to complement the music.

It’s not just the fashion aspect, and looking put-together that interest me; I’m fascinated by the history of garments, and how they came to be. When I was sent a video, produced in 2015 by Tafelmusik, about the effort Ivars Taurins put into hand-making his Handel costume for the annual Sing-Along Messiah, I was totally floored by the effort for historical accuracy. I showed the video to Ingrid Mida, who is on the faculty of Ryerson University as Fashion Research Collection Coordinator. I met her at a Gershwin-themed Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert a year ago, where she was hired by the TSO to give a an intermission chat about music and fashion. I was fascinated by her personal and professional devotion to the history of fashion and much to my joyful shock, she offered me a tour of the research facility, where she maintains fashion artifacts. Items there included an 1830’s common labourer’s undershirt to a Victorian-era woman’s dress that was re-tailored for pregnancy then tailored back in again, to 1960s haute couture pieces from designer houses belonging to a Toronto society lady. I was beside myself.

Ingrid’s first reaction to Tafelmusik’s video was, “the video and attention to detail is impressive. Did Mr. Taurins actually make this himself?” And I was pleased to inform her that he did. Here’s her statement regarding his craftsmanship:

“The clothing from another time alters the posture and movement of the modern body. The careful reproduction of a lace trimmed frock coat, silk moire waistcoat, breeches, and linen shirt allows Ivars Taurins, Director of Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, to step into the shoes of George Frederick Handel as he was seen in the 1756 portrait by Thomas Hudson and deliver a performance worthy of the great Baroque composer.”
Ingrid Mida, Curator and Dress Historian:
Author of The Dress Detective (Bloomsbury 2015)

Here’s the video from 2015:

Sing-Along Messiah Sunday, December 17, 2 PM at Massey Hall:

Regular Messiah, Dec 13 – 17 at Koerner Hall (selling quickly, over 85% sold!):

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