Andrew Davis and the Verdi Requiem

John Gilks, Opera Ramblings. The orchestra, complete with off stage brass high up at the back of the hall, and choir; the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir were on excellent form. The choir is large and can produce sound ranging from considerable subtlety to the full on power needed to work with the hundred odd musicians, heavy on the brass and drums, in the big climaxes.
More

Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

Stars Align for Verdi Requiem with Sir Andrew Davis

Joseph So, Musical Toronto. Once in a while, when the music gods are smiling down from heaven and all the stars are aligned, an audience will get to witness an extraordinary musical event, a performance that will stay in memory for a very long time. Last evening’s Verdi Requiem was just such an event.
More

Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

Classical musicians embrace public exhibitionism in search of new fans

Trish Crawford in the Toronto Star: On a recent spring evening, commuters on their way home were stopped in their tracks by the sound of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir singing in Brookfield Place’s Galleria. Under the direction of conductor Noel Edison, 70 voices soared to the glass roof of the atrium as they serenaded the rush hour crowd of Bay Street office workers.
More

Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

From the Executive Director’s Desk – Winter 2015

Almost ten years ago, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir undertook what was to become a pivotal strategic planning process in the recent history of the organization. Over a series of soul-seeking workshops, a small group of TMC stakeholders took a long and hard look at what we were doing and why we were doing it and created a series of statements that articulated the Choir’s Mission, Vision and Core Values.
More

Categories: Executive Directors Desk and Winter 2015.

Communities of Support – Winter 2015

Communities of Support by Cynthia Hawkins, Executive Director In preparation for this Voice of Mendelssohn article, I happened upon a recent survey published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (a North American organization which provides leadership to the charitable sector, including 3,500 Canadian members). The 2013 Fundraising Survey reports that 57% of Canadian responding nonprofits saw an increase in fundraising contributions over last year. In addition, 53% reported receiving between 50% and 100% of their philanthropic funds from individual donors. When asked which issues most affected fundraising results, 73% of respondents commented that the highest contributors to their success were their ability to build strong donor relationships, and their commitment to the organization’s mission and programming. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir budgets about 39% of its revenue per year from the private sector, with 48% of those gifts coming from individual donors – the members of the TMC circle of connections who are most emotionally connected to our performances and programs. Beginning last season, we put renewed emphasis on building strong, active relationships with the members of our community. We began to change the way in which we approach and interact with these stakeholders, affirming their commitment to the TMC or striving to increase their engagement with us. We have refreshed the TMC’s newsletter, the Voice of Mendelssohn, in a new online format circulated to our closest members – choristers and alumni, board and staff, TMC Legacy Circle and current donors. We hold an annual series of community building events, ranging from an open house in the TMC’s new office and library space to private receptions. We continue to strengthen our alumni program through open rehearsal and dinner events, and the opportunity to sing at select concerts. We keep in touch with donors through personalized emails, handwritten notes and phone calls. Last year we took a fresh look at the Conductors’ Challenge and re-envisaged the chorister campaign to encourage participation in ways that are meaningful to them; fostering community spirit and strengthening ties between the choristers’ own circles of connections and the organization. We began to engage current and new stakeholders on social media, posting articles and events of interest to all choral communities. This focus on building and strengthening relationships is already bearing new fruit. The commitment of our choristers to the organization beyond attending rehearsals and performances is exemplary – choristers are selling tickets, attending workshops, making donations, and
More

Categories: Winter 2015.

It Runs In Families – Winter 2015

It Runs In Families We often talk about our TMC family in a figurative way, and to be sure, the Choir is a pretty close-knit community. The figurative TMC family extends not only to choristers and staff, but also to the extended circle of family members, alumni, subscribers, donors, and audience members who support our music. An impressive number of members of our figurative choir-family share their TMC experience with members of their real-life families. At the moment, the TMC membership includes Andrew and Joel Slonetsky, father and son, respectively; sisters Lynne and Erin Smythe and Catherine and Julia Barber; and husband and wife Tim and Katherine Reibetanz. Chorister Barry Clegg is the only member of his family currently in the TMC; however his entire family has been associated with the choir in one way or another. Barry is married to Leslie Cooper, who is an active member of the TMC Alumni; his daughter Alison sang in the TMC for a couple of years, and daughter Joni performed with the TMC as a member of the Toronto Children’s Chorus and sang with the TMYC for a year before moving away. In fact, it’s possible that there wouldn’t be a Clegg-Cooper family if it were not for the TMC. Recounts Barry: My wife Leslie and I became family because of the TMC! Twenty years ago, we were assigned to the same TMC Valentine’s Quartet. The Quartets were a fund-raising venture based on Debbie Fleming’s clever arrangements of romantic words and music (e.g. the “How-I-love-ya Chorus”). Leslie and I had been in the choir for years without knowing each other, but after we sang for a few Valentine’s Quartet clients, the Valentine magic turned itself on us. Yet more TMC families can be found among the TMC alumni. Marjorie Wiens, a longtime TMC member took some time off from her TMC involvement when her daughter Jennifer Taverner was little. Marjorie says that she should have known that Jennifer would someday be involved: “I was pregnant with her at the time of a Beethoven’s Ninth performance at Massey Hall. I guess the vibrations from the orchestra and choir prompted her to kick her way through every performance. You might say she became a singer that week!” (Jennifer notes that she has heard this story a lot). Years later, in 2003, having been back in the TMC for a while, Marjorie found herself at
More

Categories: Winter 2015.

Symposium 2015: Emerging Conductors Join the TMC Community – Winter 2015

Symposium 2015: Emerging Conductors Join the TMC Community The middle of winter, after the holiday season, traditionally affords few opportunities for joy or mirth. In the world of choral music, it’s often a fallow time: exhausted from the relentless good cheer of the holiday concert season, many secular choirs will not see another performance until the spring. So the final week of January is the perfect time to invite five emerging conductors to wintry Toronto for an intensive week of workshops and rehearsals culminating with a free community concert. This year marked the fifth annual Choral Conductors’ Symposium. Participants came from all over North America, from Toronto to Wyoming, and worked closely with Noel, the Elora Festival Singers, and the TMC. Conductors arrived with a variety of backgrounds and learning goals. The Symposium is a project dear to the heart of Noel Edison, TMC Artistic Director. It’s rare, he says, for emerging conductors to have the opportunity to work with choruses of this calibre, and it’s nice to come together for intense weeks. Noel’s hope, he says, is to instill in the Symposium participants a new dream of where excellence can lie. The fundamental points that Noel emphasizes are the intensity of the work, the demands of the scores, the professionalism of the ensembles, a sense of sharing with others and of benefiting from the experience of a master clinician. There is no note-teaching at a Symposium rehearsal: he chooses repertoire from the TMC library that choristers may have encountered before or can sight-read during the week of rehearsals. Susan Farrell, of Edmonton Alberta, brought an impressive resume and unique background: among her many conducting engagements, Susan, is the Artistic Director of the Braille Tones and Semitones choirs which serve adults and children with special needs in Edmonton. Christopher Dent, of Grove City, Ohio recently completed two years as Interim Director of Music at Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, and was conductor of the University Chorus at the Ohio State University—Marion campus. With a background in trumpet, Christopher received his Master’s in Choral Conducting from Ohio State University. He arrived with some pretty specific goals, in addition to a desire to work with the choirs and Noel: Knowing the artistic reputation of the TMC and Elora Festival Singers and more specifically, Noel, I felt that this would be a symposium that I would be able to learn much
More

Categories: Winter 2015.

From the Executive Directors Desk – Fall 2014

On October 15th the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrated its 120th anniversary. Soloists, choir, orchestra, and TMC supporters new and old came together to celebrate one of the longest-serving choral organizations in Canada. Think about it – when the TMC was formed, Toronto’s population was around 200,000; church spires dominated the skyline and paddle steamers filled the harbour. Massey Hall had just opened, and the Evening Star, a precursor to the Toronto Star was just a few months old.
More

Categories: Executive Directors Desk and Fall 2014.

Whats Coming Up – Winter 2015

Whats Coming Up February 2015 Saturday, February 28, 10:30 am Singsation Saturday Conductor, Tony Browning conducts the Brahms Requiem. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St. More information March 2015 Tuesday, March 10 & Wednesday, March 11 7:30 pm  Passio Church of the Holy Trinity 10 Trinity Square More information Wednesday, March 11 5:30 pm Pre-Concert Dinner Trios Bistro Restaurant in the Eaton Centre Marriott Hotel 525 Bay Street $35 Alumni/$45 TMC Community Members Phone Kimber (416-598-0422, ext 221) to reserve a place. April 2015 Friday, April 3 7:30 pm Sacred Music for a Sacred SpaceSt. Paul’s Basilica 83 Power St. More information Saturday, April 18 10:30 am Singsation Saturday Conductor Timothy Corlis will conduct his own works.Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St.  More information Monday, April 27 5:00 pm Pop-up Concert: Creating Secular Sanctuaries Brookfield Place 181 Bay St, Toronto Wednesday, April 29 1:00 pm Pop-up Concert: Creating Secular Sanctuaries Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge St., Toronto TMC Events Calendar
More

Categories: Winter 2015.

Celebrating a Heritage of Excellence – Fall 2014

For a living, growing, vibrant institution, a significant anniversary represents an occasion to not only celebrate the past, but also consider the present and future. For its 120th Anniversary Concert the TMC paid tribute to its heritage of excellence with a stunning classical concert, TMC Conductor Trading Cards, and a party with cake for all. But we didn’t just look backwards: our live webcast of this concert, and a pre-concert fund-raising reception demonstrated the TMC’s commitment to a legacy of changing lives through beautiful choral music.
More

Categories: Fall 2014.