David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews
It wasn’t just the Industrial Revolution in nineteenth century Britain that changed the fabric of society; there was also a musical renaissance happening in England. Public concerts there featured celebrated musicians and composers from across Europe. Throughout the Victorian era, choral societies sprang up in every town, village and city spawning new composers and an unprecedented period of great choral singing that continues today in many British communities. In northern England, the Huddersfield Choral Society was formed in 1836. Choral fever spread to Canada and resulted in the formation of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1894.
Both highly acclaimed choirs continue to this day and came together this past week for performances ofBelshazzar’s Feast by William Walton with the Toronto Symphony, and for a combined performance at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday’s concert was a momentous celebration of the great music that grew out of the nineteenth century British choral tradition. It included the music of the famed British composers Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Parry, Holst, Stainer, Sullivan and Tavener as well as Canadians Healey Willan and Elizabeth Ekholm, each heavily influenced by the musical traditions of England.
The concert began with organist Michael Bloss performing the long introduction to Handel’s Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest. The first sound of the two hundred voice combined choir shook me so intensely that the majesty of the music overwhelmed me at a visceral level. It was a sound that produced goosebumps throughout the entirety of my body. I saw a woman in front of me literally jump in her seat. What glorious music making! TMC conductor Noel Edison held nothing back. He allowed the choirs to give it their all and the result was simply rapturous.
Read the full review here.