Leonard Enns writes of his TMC commission, I will lift up mine eyes: Psalm 121 is typically read, and often set musically, as a text of assurance and comfort. My setting is similar in that regard. What I find compelling, though, is the second phrase of the psalm: "from whence commeth my help (?)." Many musical settings treat the phrase "from whence cometh my help" simply as a modifier (no question mark); i.e. "... the hills from whence cometh my help" (take, for example, Mendelssohn's "Lift thine eyes"). Most current translations, however, treat it as a question.
Artistic Director Noel Edison has always enjoyed the combination of Renaissance with contemporary music in a concert program. For him, it’s the similarity between the openness and simplicity of the structure of these compositions that works so well together.
Five conductors from across North America have been selected to participate in the TMC’s sixth annual Choral Conductors’ Symposium (Jan 26-30, 2016), led by conductor and artistic director Noel Edison. Conductors will work with Noel and with the Elora Festival Singers and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir on a variety of choral music for chamber and large-scale ensembles, including works by composers from Palestrina, Mendelssohn and Elgar to Britten, Pärt and Corlis.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir launched a new Choral Composition Competition for emerging Canadian composers in August 2015. This competition called on unpublished Canadian composers to submit a work, not more than five minutes in length, for SATB or double choir, either a cappella or accompanied by piano or organ. The Choir received 28 submissions from composers across the country.
In December a jury of four leading choral musicians met to discuss the compositions and awarded the Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition to Stuart Beatch of Regina, Saskatchewan for his work Psalm 100. Beatch receives the cash prize of $1000 and his work will be premiered at the TMC’s Choral Conductors’ Symposium free concert at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church on Saturday, January 30, 2016 (www.tmchoir.org/FreeConcert).
Christmas may not yet be white, but at least we’re starting the season right A New Ears review by Helen Androlia. It’s an unfortunate truth that when you work in advertising (as I do) that Christmas actually starts in July, as that’s really when you begin planning for the season. So, as December finally rolls...
Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto and The Toronto Star. Toronto boasts over 30 Messiah’s performed across the city, and perhaps with the exception of New York City, makes Toronto Messiah Central.
While there are a wide variety of offerings, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik remain the two standbys. Without being too competitive, it’s always fun to compare them.
John Gilks, operaramblings. Sir Andrew Davis is in town conducting his own orchestration of Handel’s Messiah. In the modern world this is probably as close as it gets to Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Huddersfield Choral Society. He conducts the TSO with brass and woodwinds that Handel never saw and lots of percussion including snare drum, sleigh bells, tambourines and marimba. He also has the not inconsiderable heft of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail. Davis’s Messiah will be one of three quite different versions of the perennial favourite presented in Toronto next week, a bit shy of the 20 or so in the New York metropolitan area that the unfortunate junior critic for the New York Times is routinely assigned to review every season, but quite a bouquet nonetheless. The three Messiahs show the extreme versatility and adaptability of this amazing work, which has been pushed and pulled into innumerable, sometimes unrecognizable shapes over its two-and-a-half-century existence, but which manages to escape whole and healthy every time.
[T]he entire evening reminded me of the incredible power of live music. Even the slower pieces were performed with such passion that even though they were about the loss of love etc I couldn’t help but be a bit giddy with excitement. I had never heard love songs performed like this before.