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Media Reviews

Voices of Christmas: pum, pum, prum, pum, pum, prum

Katie Daubs
Star Advent Calendar
The Toronto Star, December 8, 2010

The members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir walk along Yonge St. and nip inside a snow-covered church. Inside, they sit in groups of twos and threes.

"What child is this, please," conductor Noel Edison says.

When Edison’s baton lowers, this group of regular people, who live ordinary lives outside of this three-hour rehearsal, create such beauty that listeners forget the slippery roads outside and float with the music.

"Sopranos, don’t overscream the top note," says Edison, a man who hears problems where the normal ear hears perfection. "If it’s threadbare, it gets a little screamy."

Organist Michael Bloss, who works as a flight instructor, watches Edison in a rearview mirror attached to his organ.

"Away in a manger. Who are the soloists trying out?" Edison asks.

A girl wearing a T-shirt and dark jeans raises her hand.

"Do you want me to stand here?" she asks as she approaches Edison’s platform.

The girl begins to sing. Edison stops her.

"Stay with me. Don’t be nervous," he says, motioning to the 150 choristers. "They’re all thinking, ‘God, I’m glad it’s not me."

She starts singing again, more slowly this time. Her soprano voice fills Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

"Name please?" Edison asks her.

"Natalie," she responds, and then says to her friend, "I was so slow."

Four more people sing. Then Edison hands out the verses for the Festival of Carols on Wednesday.

"You’ll do verse three," he says to Natalie.

Natalie Image smiles. This is her first year with the choir. She is 18.

Little Drummer boy begins.

"Pum, pum, prum," the baritones sing. "Pum, pum, prum."

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