Ivars Taurins, who is of Latvian background and grew up in Toronto, demonstrated musical ability at an early age, commencing piano studies at the age of 8, and violin at 13. He began studies in the viola during his final year at North Toronto Collegiate. His post-secondary music studies 1975-81 involved periods at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) (conductors' workshop and orchestral training program); the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Netherlands; the University of Western Ontario; and the University of Toronto. Among Taurins' conducting teachers were Simon Streatfeild, Mario Bernardi, Boris Brott, Frans Moonen, and Lawrence Leonard. He also participated in conducting masterclasses with Erich Leinsdorf, Franz-Paul Decker, and Franco Mannino.
Taurins was the recipient of the Heinz Unger Conducting Scholarship (1981), and the Clifford Evens Memorial Conducting Award (1984-5).
Ivars Taurins was a founding member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and its principal violist 1979-2002. For more than twenty of these years he also held the parallel role of Tafelmusik's choir director.
Tafelmusik Chamber Choir
In 1981 (with David Fallis) Taurins created the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, a 25-voice complementary ensemble to the Baroque orchestra, and renowned for its interpretation of Baroque and Classical period choral literature. By the 1982-3 season, Taurins had sole charge of the choir with which he has continued his association as Music Director and Conductor in 2013. The ensemble has taken part in the Soundstreams Canada concerts and the Roy Thomson Hall "Choir and Organ" series, and has been heard regularly on CBC Radio. In 1991, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir was awarded the Canada Council's Healey Willan prize.
The choir (with 22 voices in 2013 including 2 counter tenors) blossomed, and has toured and recorded internationally as part of Tafelmusik as well as making a cappella appearances and recordings.
2011-2012 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the choir, and brought further success and recognition. In 2011 Taurins and the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir collaborated with Kent Nagano and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at the inauguration of Montréal's new hall the Maison Symphonique in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Among Taurin's most popular roles has been that of G.F Handel as conductor and host of the Tafelmusik Sing-Along Messiah which has been held at Toronto's Massey Hall beginning in 1988. For this "impersonation" filmed for Bravo! TV and released on DVD in 2012 for Tafelmusik Media, Taurins was nominated for a Gemini award in 2011.
As Guest Conductor
Ivars Taurins has guest-conducted many Canadian orchestras and choirs, among them symphonies in Edmonton, Victoria, London, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Thirteen Strings (Ottawa), the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Elora Festival Choir, the Nova Scotia Youth Choir, the Intervarsity Choir, Amabile Youth Choir, and the Toronto Chamber Society Choir. He was principal Baroque conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra 2001-2011.
As Teacher and Lecturer
Ivars Taurins has been active as a teacher, lecturer and adjudicator, beginning in 1986-7 when he was an adjunct professor in Baroque violin and viola at the University of Western Ontario. Taurins was an adjudicator at the Edward Johnson Competition (Guelph Spring Festival) 1986-7. He has served as an instructor in conducting and Baroque instrumental and vocal ensembles at the University of Toronto since 1997, and been a visiting artist at the RCM's Glenn Gould School. Beginning in 2002, he has been the vocal/choral director at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. He has lectured for such organizations as the Conductors' Guild in New York (1985) and Toronto (2007); the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto (1992); the Toronto Early Music Centre (1987); and VOICE, a symposium at Oxford University.
Taurins has also been involved in various workshops, including for the Beijing Conservatory in China (1998); the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors in Sherbrooke, Quebec (2001); and the Scotia Festival of Music (1998 and 2001). Taurens has given vocal/choral studies classes as part of Tafelmusik's Baroque Mentors University Residency programme beginning in 2010. He has taught at the University of Sherbrooke, Queen's University, the University of Western Ontario and others, and been active with numerous youth Choirs. He was the director of Canada's National Youth Choir (2012).
He has hosted the radio show This is My Music on CBC Radio 2.