An Exclusive Inside Tour of The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Choral Library

Brian Chang, Musical Toronto

For any given performance at the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, there are 130 copies of each piece of music, one for each chorister. For a concert of small works, there could be 15 or 20 different pieces of music. That’s 1500-2000 pieces of music to coordinate, label, track, distribute and ensure their return before filing back away. The job of a choral librarian is the most underrated, most essential part of a choral administration.

Lorraine Spragg is the librarian of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Serving since 2004, she manages the maintenance, organization, distribution, loaning, and return of 406 works totaling 57,742 pieces of music. With a focus on grand symphonic work, the choir has around 200 copies each of most grand works you can think of like Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and more.

Spragg came around to the role working in hematology and blood banks. “Organization and accuracy were imperative,” she says, always adhering to the adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” At Mt Sinai, she established the fetal blood transfusion protocol before becoming an ESL teacher. Her role required a deep attention to detail and extreme diligence. She likens this work to that of being a librarian, but as she says “a mistake in the library isn’t life threatening.” However, being careful with almost 60,000 pieces of music is not an easy or quick task.

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