ACTA Recorder Quartet

Photo of ACTA in rehearsal, January 2018 by Ed Nixon.

The Toronto-based ACTA Recorder Quartet has been making music since 2015 and brings together a multi-generational group of players with a wealth of performing experience. Their ever-expanding repertoire casts a wide net, incorporating Renaissance fantasias, Baroque fugues, modern-era compositions from Canada, the USA, Japan and Europe, folk music, and arrangements of Sousa marches, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, rags by Scott Joplin, tunes by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and more. ACTA presents shows for audiences of all ages, in venues ranging from state-of-the-art concert halls to public libraries. The ACTA Recorder Quartet members are Alison Melville, Colin Savage, Tatsuki Shimoda and Avery MacLean. They are joined from time to time by former member Anne Massicotte and/or other guests as necessary.

“Wonderful music, excellently played!…The meticulous and articulate playing of the quartet was clearly evident…Even without words, they were able to convey both the sauciness and sadness of the French chansons.” (Toronto Early Music Centre)

“…an eclectic program characterized by impeccable ensemble work, flawless intonation, and beautifully shaped musical lines.” (TEMPO Newsletter)

“The range of sizes and tones of the recorders…and the ability of the players to get such a variety of sounds…was amazing.” (Ontario Concert Reviews)

Avery MacLean completed her B.Mus. in Early Music Performance and Literature at McGill University, a post-graduate Certificate in Performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague (Holland), and an MA in Music Criticism at McMaster University. As a performing musician, she has made guest appearances with the Les Violons du Roi, Aradia, Mississauga Symphony, Toronto Philharmonic, Toronto Masque Theatre, Toronto Consort, Scaramella Concerts and many other groups across Ontario. Avery can be heard on Naxos, Classical Kids and several private label recordings, and she has been featured on CBC and CJRT radio, CBC and BRAVO! Television, as well as several film soundtracks.

Toronto-born Alison Melville began playing the recorder in a school classroom in London (UK). Her subsequent career has taken her across North America and to New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and Europe, most recently to Switzerland and Finland. A member of the Toronto Consort and Ensemble Polaris, she appears regularly with Tafelmusik and collaborates with many others. Some highlights: playing for The Tudors, The Friendly Giant, and Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter; solo shows in inner-city London (UK) schools; playing Bach in Switzerland; improvising music in duet with an acrobat in northern Finland; and, oh yes, a summer of concerts in Ontario prisons. Alison has been heard on CBC/R-C, BBC, RNZ, NPR, Iceland’s RUV, and on over 60 CDs. She taught for many years at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is currently on faculty at the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University. www.alisonmelville.com

Colin Savage has performed on recorder and historical clarinets with ensembles in Canada, the USA, Europe and Japan, including Artek, New York Collegium, Tafelmusik, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier, la Nouvele Sinfonie, Aradia Ensemble, Apollo’s Fire, les Boréades and the Toronto Consort. He is principal clarinetist with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, and particularly enjoys playing bass clarinet with the Arctic fusion band Ensemble Polaris, whose recordings of Nordic/Canadian/Mediterranean folk melodies have received international critical acclaim. He is regularly heard on CBC Radio, and has recorded for Sony Classical, ebs, Naxos, Atma, Analekta and Dorian. Colin’s interest in analog photographic processes finds him in well-lit and very dark places, and his images of abandoned spaces, shot with a vintage twin lens reflex camera, are featured in the book “Modern Canadian Interiors”.

Tatsuki Shimoda has been playing the recorder since a young age, and comes from a musical family with whom he has explored music in various settings. While studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in downtown Toronto, where he recently received a Performer’s A.R.C.T. in recorder, he has played at numerous music festivals around the GTA and Ontario. Also a player of oboe and cello, and currently working to improve his skills at the piano, Tatsuki continues to explore the recorder and music as a passion in life.

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Anne Massicotte started her musical career as a clarinettist, graduating from the Conservatoire de Québec. She played with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and toured for Jeunesses Musicales with her chamber music group. She taught music in elementary school for many years, conducting award winning children`s choirs. A lifelong recorder player, Anne played Renaissance and medieval music with Ensemble Anonymus in Quebec City. Since 1984 she has taught recorder to children at CAMMAC’s summer music camp, north of Montreal, where she also performs. She currently sings with the Amadeus Choir, and is very much enjoying exploring the recorder consort repertoire with ACTA.