Artistic Director Search
Planning for our future
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir launched its search for a new Artistic Director at a meeting on September 28, 2018. The search is headed up by TMC Board Director Dick Freeborough who has previous experience in recruiting for senior positions and has championed the development of succession planning at many boards, most importantly in 2014 as he led the search for a new President of the University of Guelph. He chairs the 11-member TMC Artistic Director Search Committee.
On May, 31, 2021 the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir named internationally recognized conductor, scholar, and pedagogue Jean-Sébastien Vallée as TMC Artistic Director, only the eighth in its history.
This appointment is the result of an extensive international search.
In his announcement, TMC Board Chair Denny Young said: “Jean-Sébastien’s appointment comes as TMC prepares to enter the post-pandemic era with a renewed and exciting commitment to choral music performance and creation. His outstanding record of artistic leadership ensures the continuation of TMC’s long and distinguished tradition of excellence. But more than that, his vision for choral music’s capacity to build inclusive communities perfectly aligns with TMC’s aspiration to be a catalyst for change. Jean-Sébastien has a demonstrated talent for creating extraordinary choral music by building inclusive ensembles, by promoting artists from Canada’s many diverse communities, and by creating innovative collaborations with organizations working in a variety of ways to build a more equitable country.”
Read the full media release.
The TMC’s Artistic Director Search process was put on hold indefinitely in March, 2020 with the arrival of the pandemic. One audition concert had already taken place and one was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Artistic Director Search Committee has decided to prioritize completing the final audition in the Spring/Summer of 2021 (with online and outdoor activities adhering to Toronto Public Health guidelines).
During this pandemic period the TMC continues to be led artistically by Associate Conductor Simon Rivard who has developed inspiring and innovative online choral programming with the TMC.
The search for a new Artistic Director for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is proceeding well and according to plan. It had been expected that we would spend the 2018/19 season publicizing the search, contacting choral music experts, receiving applications, reviewing candidates’ qualifications and experience, and conducting at least two series of candidate interviews with a view to reaching a short list of candidates by June 2019. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to audition for the TMC through guest conducting opportunities in the 2019/20 season.
As of March 2019 we are on track to meet this objective. We have solicited opinions from TMC choristers, received candidate suggestions and search input from 15 internationally-based choral music experts, and reached out with the job posting through our search firm Genovese Vanderhoof.
There has been significant worldwide interest in the position and potential candidate interest has been received from conductors in many parts of the world – Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
We are currently in the final stages of selecting candidates for first interviews which will start by the end of April. I am very pleased with the progress we have made so far and the level of international interest shown in the position. Our committee has worked very hard to get us to this stage and we will be very busy for the next two months with interviews and selection discussions. All members of the committee have shown dedication to the task and provided keen insights to help the process along.
As you would expect given the personal nature of the discussions at the committee, all details of our deliberations are completely confidential and cannot be shared outside the committee.
TMC Interim Conductor David Fallis and Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins have scheduled concert dates for artistic director candidate auditions starting in December 2019. The TMC’s 2019-2020 concert season, including our guest appearances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and a 125th-anniversary gala concert weekend, will be announced in April.
Dick Freeborough, Chair, TMC Artistic Director Search Committee March 26, 2019
Posted November 12, 2018
TORONTO MENDELSSOHN CHOIR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir invites applications and referrals for the position of Artistic Director.
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC) has been a champion of choral music in Canada since 1894. As Canada’s leading symphonic choir, and a pioneering force in the development of our country’s rich choral landscape, we have been fortunate enough to witness and participate in many important events in Canada’s musical heritage. Remarkably, the TMC has worked under the leadership of just seven artistic directors over 124 years.
Over 110 experienced volunteer choristers form the backbone of the TMC’s choral community with twenty professional choral singers providing musical leadership within the Choir.
The TMC is featured in every season of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as its partnered large-scale symphonic choir. Typically there are ten to twelve such concerts per year, including a run of six performances of Handel’s Messiah during the holiday season. The TMC Artistic Director serves as choirmaster, preparing the Choir for final rehearsals and performances conducted by the TSO conductor. Of equal importance, the TMC also presents an annual series of subscription and outreach concerts, all under the leadership of the TMC Artistic Director.
In addition to a full schedule of approximately twenty major performances a year, the TMC invests in choral music education, outreach and advocacy, including a choral apprentice program, Singsation Saturday workshops for the amateur choral community, a choral composition competition, and opportunities for emerging conductors.
David Fallis is currently the TMC’s Interim Conductor and Artistic Advisor. There is a professional management team in place led by Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins and a deeply committed volunteer board of directors. The annual budget is approximately $700,000.
The Position of Artistic Director:
The first and most important quality sought in the new Artistic Director is artistic excellence and superb musicianship at an international level.
Reporting to the Board of Directors and working closely with the Executive Director, the Artistic Director must have the skills, abilities, and character to be a catalyst who can lead the TMC to a new level of musical excellence and activity.
The Artistic Director is charged with creating an artistic strategy consistent with the vision, mandate, and values of the TMC; as well as programming repertoire, overseeing educational and community outreach activities, and serving as a public face for the organization.
The Artistic Director will be able to inspire and elicit performances of high quality and emotional impact. He/she will be expected to perform publicity/marketing functions, participate in fund-raising events and major gift donor meetings, manage rehearsals and scheduling, and build strong partnerships with other organizations.
The Artistic Director must be able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with the Board of Directors, Choir staff, Choir members, the media, artist managers, other arts groups, sponsors, educational institutions, volunteers, audiences and other stakeholders.
The ideal candidate will be an international calibre choral director with an excellent track record in leading large choral ensembles, preferably with experience in working with a major symphony orchestra.
In the past the Artistic Director of the TMC has been resident year-round in the Toronto area. The organization would be willing and open to discussing alternatives for its artistic leadership.
Other Information and Application Process:
Compensation commensurate with experience.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a letter of interest in confidence, as well as a resume, salary expectations, list of references, up to three audio recordings, and up to three videos of professional quality (one of which, if possible, has been recorded live in concert) by Friday, March 1, 2019 to:
Margaret Genovese Senior Partner GENOVESE, VANDERHOOF & ASSOCIATES firstname.lastname@example.org 77 Carlton Street, Suite 1103 Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2J7 416.340.2762
We recommend you upload your video samples to a private YouTube page and send us the links. Alternatively, you can mail us a DVD of your samples if they are compatible with Windows Media Player or QuickTime.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates for employment are considered without regard to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or non-job related disability. Preference, however, will be given to qualified Canadian candidates.
The search is headed up by TMC Board Director Dick Freeborough who has previous experience in recruiting for senior positions and has championed the development of succession planning at many boards, most importantly in 2014 as he led the search for a new President of the University of Guelph.
The eleven Search Committee members were chosen for their range of experiences and backgrounds, including an emphasis on experienced musicians and those who understand professional music-making. The Committee includes TMC board and chorister representatives as well as external experts. TMC Interim Conductor and Artistic Advisor, David Fallis, will serve as an advisor to the Committee.
TMC representatives Dick Freeborough, TMC Board, Committee Chair; Denny Young, TMC Board Chair; Lloyd Chiotti, TMC Board; Jennifer McGraw, TMC Board and chorister; Susan Worthington, TMC chorister; Frances Price, TMC patron and donor; and Cynthia Hawkins, Former TMC Executive Director.
External music experts Rick Phillips, Classical Music writer, reviewer, music tour guide, and concert host; Marta McCarthy, Associate Professor, University of Guelph; Don McLean, Dean of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto; and Sir Andrew Davis, TSO Interim Artistic Director (TSO liaison).
Read more about our Search Committee members.
TMC ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JOB DESCRIPTION
The Artistic Director of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is responsible for all aspects of the Choir’s artistic performance. They report to the Board of Directors and work in partnership with the Executive Director and other key TMC staff.
The Artistic Director is a visionary leader who will create an artistic strategy consistent with the TMC’s vision, mission, and values. They are a creative thinker, programmer, and consummate musician, able to inspire and elicit performances of superior artistic quality and emotional impact.
The Artistic Director is a team builder; able to foster effective working relationships with multiple stakeholders, including TMC personnel, the volunteer and professional choristers, collaborative partners, and funders.
The Artistic Director will be committed to creating a vision for the organization that builds on the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 125-year-old history, and that engages the diverse City of Toronto on multiple levels.
In collaboration with the Executive Director, Director of Marketing & Community Outreach and the Board of Directors, the TMC Artistic Director will
- articulate the artistic vision for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and reflect that vision in programming for the Choir and in the development of both short and long term plans.
- provide artistic leadership and direction to the Choir.
- develop new artistic partnerships and collaborations, support and grow existing ones.
- conduct TMC subscription performances, outreach concerts and run-outs, and associated rehearsals.
- prepare the TMC for performances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and other performance partners.
- conduct annual auditions for new and returning TMC choristers (volunteer and professional).
- hire and oversee TMC artistic and performance personnel including collaborative pianists, associate conductors, professional core of singers, soloists and instrumental musicians.
Education & Outreach
In collaboration with the Executive Director and Director of Marketing & Community Outreach, the TMC Artistic Director will
- play an active role in current TMC education and outreach programs (TMC Apprentice Program, Singsation Saturday workshops, Choral Composition Competition).
- develop TMC’s Emerging Conductor program, providing mentorship, rehearsal, performance and networking opportunities for emerging conductors.
- support the growth and expansion of TMC’s Performance Webcast Initiative.
- cultivate new education and outreach programs that respond to the needs of the community while furthering the Mission of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
Public Relations & Development
The TMC Artistic Director will
- participate in activities that increase the profile of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, as appropriate.
- act as spokesperson for the Choir in media opportunities, as appropriate.
- participate in events and meetings that further relationships with TMC stakeholders (collaborative partners, donors and government partners).
- connect with musical and professional organizations locally, nationally and internationally as appropriate.
The TMC Artistic Director will
- be an ex officio member of the Board of Directors, attending meetings, presenting reports as requested, and working with the Board in furthering the Mission of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
- develop concert and artistic program budgets in collaboration with the Executive Director to support TMC’s annual activities and long range plans.
- collaborate in the preparation of annual grant applications and funding proposals as needed.
The Artistic Director will be in full support of the TMC’s Creating a Safe Creative Space initiative, adhere to all TMC’s policies and be a part of our efforts to create a fulfilling, safe and healthy environment. For more information, go to https://www.tmchoir.org/creating-a-safe-creative-space/.
TMC ORGANIZATIONAL PROFILE
As Canada’s oldest performing arts organization, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir champions the choral music experience through live performances, education, and outreach programs; building and enriching communities through a profound emotional experience of the choral masterworks of the world.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir aspires to be the leading champion of choral music in Canada and inspire lives through excellence of performance, education and outreach.
Excellence / Scale / Scope / Authentic / Accessible / Inclusive / Respect
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has been a champion of choral music in Canada since 1894. As Canada’s leading symphonic choir, and a pioneering force behind the development of our country’s rich choral landscape, we have been fortunate enough to participate in many important events in Canada’s musical heritage.
Remarkably, the TMC has worked under the leadership of just seven artistic directors in 124 years, each of whom holds an honoured place as a great champion of Canadian choral art.
The Choir has celebrated many artistic highlights, including critically acclaimed recordings of Handel’s Messiah in 1952, 1986 and 2016, and performances in New York, London, Vienna, and Salzburg, among other major artistic centres. Under the direction of one of Canada’s choral music visionaries, Elmer Iseler, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Arts.
The TMC has a long history of singing the staples of the symphonic choral repertoire, presenting rarely performed and/or contemporary choral works, championing Canadian musicians and commissioning new works. Prominent Canadian composers John Beckwith, Timothy Corlis, Derek Holman, Srul Irving Glick, R. Murray Schafer, Harry Somers and Healey Willan, among others, have all composed for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
Toronto contains an abundance of choral music organizations of many different types and presenting many different genres of choral music. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is unique among choirs in Toronto in being able to regularly perform the great symphonic choral works the way they were intended, and to the highest artistic standard – resulting in a powerful musical experience. Our commitment to artistic excellence and to guaranteeing an emotional, impactful audience experience is key to our vision and to our popularity.
The size of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir ranges annually from 120 to 140 singers, with over 110 experienced volunteer choristers forming the backbone of the TMC’s choral community. Twenty professional choral singers provide musical leadership within the Choir, and our numbers are supplemented by TMC alumni for select performances. All choristers are required to re-audition for the Choir each season, encouraging the most talented musicians in our community to aspire to higher and higher levels of personal artistic achievement. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is deeply committed to diversity within its community, and attracts singers from all ethnicities, backgrounds and ages – currently 40% of choristers are under the age of 35. Annual turnover ranges around 10%, with most singers remaining in the Choir for multiple seasons. Our choristers share a common purpose and pride of membership that drives an extraordinary commitment to a rehearsal and performance schedule averaging 185 hours per season.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is featured in every season of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as its partnered large-scale symphonic choir. Typically there are ten to twelve such concerts per year, including a run of six performances of Handel’s Messiah during the holiday season. For these programs, the TMC Artistic Director serves as choirmaster, preparing the Choir for final rehearsals and performances conducted by the TSO conductor.
In addition to our performances with the TSO, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir presents an annual subscription season of 3 – 5 programs per year, including a popular holiday program in December and a program of sacred choral works during Holy Week. Other programs have included oratorio and mass settings with full orchestra and soloists, programs of contemporary works, opera choruses, and secular miniatures. All concerts in the subscription series are prepared and conducted by the TMC Artistic Director.
Although the Choir’s artistic focus has been on presenting traditional choral works from the 19th and 20th centuries, the Choir’s artistic ability, flexibility and inquisitive nature enables us to perform music of many genres and from many periods. For more information on repertoire presented in recent seasons, see https://www.tmchoir.org/past-tmc-seasons/.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Each year the TMC auditions young men and women aged 17-22 to join the Choir as part of the TMC Apprentice Program. We reduce the rehearsal and performance schedule for these talented singers to accommodate their academic commitments, and provide professional voice lessons, bursary assistance to cover wardrobe and music fees, and mentorship support from veteran TMC choristers. Since its inception in 2009, over 50 young singers have benefited from the apprentice program, many of them for multiple years.
The TMC also supports Toronto’s dynamic amateur choral community through five annual Singsation Saturday workshops, where singers from a diverse range of choirs, or those with no choir affiliation, come together to read through choral works under the direction of different guest conductors. Through these workshops, participants learn about composers and their works, experience singing repertoire beyond the scope of their own choirs, and expand on their skills.
The TMC Associate Conductor Program provides an emerging Canadian choral conductor with training, mentoring, rehearsal and performance opportunities for a period of two years. The Associate Conductor works under the guidance of the TMC Artistic Director, directs TMC ensembles in select rehearsals and public performances, holds monthly coaching sessions for TMC choristers, and assists in other areas.
Thanks to a generous gift from a long-serving chorister, in 2015 the TMC proudly launched a new annual Choral Composition Competition for unpublished Canadian composers. The winner is awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and the winning composition is performed in one of the TMC’s season concerts. To date, winning compositions have come to us from Regina, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton.
Since 2012, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has extended its cross-Canada and international reach through concert webcasting. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, select TMC concerts are webcast free-of-charge through Livestream, on the TMC website and Facebook. Performance webcasts attract 23,000 views, increasing annually, from multiple communities across Canada, the U.S. and worldwide. TMC continues to utilize emerging forms of access to our performances and recordings.
GOVERNANCE, MANAGEMENT & FINANCE
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is an organization that prides itself on being forward-thinking and diligent in its oversight and execution of operational management. The twelve member Board of Directors is focused on sustaining a vibrant strategic vision for the organization, and exercises modern, strong governance practices in leading and overseeing its management.
The TMC’s Executive Director is supported by a lean and focused group of part-time staff. The Executive Director is responsible for the full range of support to the Board, including accountability for financial planning and reporting; development and marketing planning and execution; and, working with the Artistic Director and the Board, leading the choir’s engagement and outreach to its members, donors and broader communities. The Executive Director and Board work diligently to ensure we meet our legal obligations and liability for the safety of TMC members, associates and staff.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the organization through diligent stewardship and development of the Choir’s financial resources. As an arts organization operating in an increasingly competitive landscape, we recognize that ensuring the stability of the TMC requires balancing the need to push artistic boundaries with maintaining the financial health of the organization. The TMC’s current budget is in the range of Cdn $700,000.
THE FUTURE TORONTO MENDELSSOHN CHOIR
The TMC organization engages in regular, forward-looking strategic planning exercises. The process is highly engaged, and carefully examines a full range of data from our own organization experience (financial results, detailed audience trends, and audience preferences from survey results) in addition to environmental scans of results and trends from other performing arts/choral organizations in Canada and beyond.
The organization began a new planning process in September 2018, which will continue throughout the next two seasons. While the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is a strong organization which prides itself on artistically high performances, we acknowledge that our audiences are shrinking and our art form is viewed as less relevant to a large portion of the population. In tandem with our new Artistic Director, it is our goal to evolve our artistic strategy to create new partnerships and collaborations, embrace and utilize technological change, diversify our programs, and re-engage audiences.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir aims to provide a creatively fulfilling, safe and healthy environment that is inclusive of people who identify as various races, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations. We aim to ensure positive and respectful relationships that are demonstrated by welcome, friendship and support among our members for everyone involved in our organization. The TMC’s Creating a Safe Creative Space initiative, Policy on Harassment and Workplace Violence, and the Chorister Guidelines together outline Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s collective values and the expectations about how we will treat each other and those who interact with us. For more information, go to https://www.tmchoir.org/creating-a-safe-creative-space/.