Toronto Mendelssohn Choir commissions new work from composer Andrew Balfour to help celebrate TMC’s 125th anniversary

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, under Interim Conductor David Fallis, has commissioned a new work from acclaimed Cree composer Andrew Balfour, to be premiered at the TMC’s 125th anniversary gala on October 20, 2019. The 10-minute work, titled Mamihcimowin (The act of singing praises), will be a partial setting of Psalm 67 translated into Cree. It will be scored for SSATTB , violas, cellos and double basses. Of Cree descent, Winnipeg-based composer Andrew Balfour is an innovative composer, conductor, singer and sound designer with a large body of choral, instrumental, electro-acoustic and orchestral works.
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Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Releases.

TMC announces retirement of Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins

For the past 14 years, Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins has been the administrative leader of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Earlier in May she informed the TMC Board of Directors that she would be taking her retirement at the end of August. In her letter to the Board, Cynthia stated “My work with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has been the highlight of my professional career. I will miss the choristers, TMC staff and the excitement of performances very much.”
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Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Releases.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrates singing through three centuries with a gala concert to launch its 2019/20 season

The TMC celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2019 with a gala concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Koerner Hall. The Choir was founded in 1894 by conductor Augustus Vogt and had its first concert on January 15, 1895 in Massey Hall.  The Choir has performed in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, as Toronto went from a city of 200,000 to the Greater Toronto Area of over 6 million. A lot has changed over the years, but the Choir continues to hold annual auditions for all choir members, a practice started by founder Augustus Vogt.The Gala Concert will take place Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 3:30 pm at Koerner Hall. The Choir will be joined by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, long-time musical partners with the TMC and a youngster at only 97 years old. TMC Conductor David Fallis has put together a program that brings together the three centuries in three major works: Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, composed in the late 1880s and re-orchestrated by him in 1894, the year of the founding of the TMC; Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, composed in 1930 and one of the greatest choral-orchestral works of the 20th century; and for the 21st century a new commission by acclaimed Cree composer Andrew Balfour. Andrew’s commission for the TMC will set one of the Biblical psalms in Cree, interwoven with words by Indigenous poet Karen Vermette.
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Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Releases.

David Fallis leads Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a program of 20th century a cappella works for Sacred Music for a Sacred Space – April 17 and Good Friday, April 19

TMC’s popular annual Sacred Music concerts are intended to provide a moment of calm for patrons with a program of contemplative a cappella music.  For 2019, David Fallis has created a program of 20th century composers with the first half featuring composers from France and Switzerland, while the second half features composers from Eastern Europe and Russia.David opens the concert with Olivier Messaien’s O sacrum convivium – a composition to help patrons step out of time. In his program notes, David remarks that this motet is “a perfect example of Messiaen’s preoccupation with the suspension of the perception of time in music by the use of extremely slow tempos and subtle changes in length of notes, all designed to bring us closer to something outside of time, eternal.”  The first half also includes Poulenc’s Salve Regina and Martin’s Mass for Double Choir, all performed by the 70-member Mendelssohn Singers.The second half of music of the Eastern Orthodox Church will be sung by the full TMC.
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

Conductor David Fallis to lead Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, orchestra and stellar soloists in Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli and Handel’s Coronation Anthems

Conductor David Fallis has put together a stellar group of soloists for this concert of two beloved 18th century greats on February 27, 2019.  The Choir and orchestra will be joined by soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzo-soprano Christina Stelmacovich, tenor Asitha Tennekoon, and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus. Of the Missa in tempore belli, David writes in the program notes: “The mass has many extraordinary touches. The overall feel is optimistic and confident, appropriate to the basic key of C major, but the beautiful cello and bass singer duet at the Qui tollis in the “Gloria”, the deeply moving Et incarnatus est in the “Credo” and the gorgeous harmonic colouring at so many moments mark this mass as the work of a great composer working at the height of his powers.”
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

Spotlight on North America: Toronto Mendelssohn Choir FREE Community Concert and Webcast

Spotlight on North America. Saturday, January 26 at 3 pm EST. Interim Conductor David Fallis has put together a program featuring works by Canadian and American choral composers for the TMC’s 2019 free community concert.  David notes “We want to shine our spotlight on three key areas: the exciting new generation of Indigenous artists across Canada who are leading contributors to so many aspects of our cultural life, choral music included; local Toronto composers from Healey Willan to Stephanie Martin; and the fact that some of our most alluring melodies are folksongs whose origins are obscure but which live on in lively arrangements by important composers.” This concert is a wonderful opportunity for people to hear the Grammy-nominated 120-voice Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and discover some stunning contemporary choral music, including two works by Andrew Balfour, the prominent Winnipeg composer of Cree descent.
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

TMC to hire its own professional core for 2019/20 season

Starting with the 2019/20 season, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir will hire its own professional core of singers. This professional core will replace the Elora Singers, the acclaimed professional chamber choir who for 20 years formed the professional core of the TMC. The 20 members of the professional core will participate in all TMC and TMC/TSO rehearsals and concerts.  Contractual details are being finalized, but will include a two-year agreement and increased stipend. Auditions for the new TMC professional core will be held in early 2019.
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

TMC announces winner of 2018 Choral Composition Prize

Edmonton choral singer and composer Russell Wilkinson is the winner of the TMC’s 2018 Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition. The fourth annual TMC Choral Composition Competition received 19 entries from across Canada. The winner of this competition receives the $1000 Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition and their work is performed by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in concert. The 2018 competition asked emerging composers to submit a sacred or secular work for the Christmas season. Submissions were reviewed by the jury of TMC Interim Conductor David Fallis, Festival of Carols guest conductor Howard Dyck, and TMC Associate Conductor Ezra Burke. The winner was There Is No Rose by Russell Wilkinson.  Russ is a retired lawyer living in Edmonton. Over the last 40 years he has sung with Greystone Singers (U. of S.), Edmonton Opera Chorus, Pro Coro Canada, I Coristi Chamber Choir and Da Camera Singers. Choral composition is a relatively recent endeavour which he hopes to continue in his retirement.
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir rings in the Christmas season with its annual Festival of Carols on two nights – Tuesday, Dec 4 and Wednesday, Dec 5

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir welcomes the holiday season with a concert of Yuletide favourites combined with some new discoveries. The Choir will be led by guest conductor Howard Dyck and will be joined by the Toronto Youth Choir (Matthew Otto, conductor), the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army (John Lam, bandmaster), and Michael Bloss on organ. Conductor Howard Dyck has put together a program that brings together music of celebration and music for contemplation. It’s also a program that acknowledges some choral greats, including Healey Willan, while also featuring works by contemporary composers. The Choir will open with Healey Willan’s Hodie, Christus natus est. And later in the program the Choir will perform the world premiere of Toronto composer Stephanie Martin’s An Earthly Tree which was commissioned by St. John Cantius Church in Chicago as homage to Healey Willan in this year commemorating 50 years since his death. According to composer Stephanie Martin, “An Earthly Tree entwines the well-known Gregorian Christmas chant Hodie Christus natus est in 21st-century harmonies.”
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.

TMC announces 2018-19 Season and appointment of David Fallis as Interim Conductor

Acclaimed Toronto conductor David Fallis has been named as Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Interim Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. “David brings to the TMC a life-long passion for choral music, incredible conducting experience, and a wide-ranging knowledge of choral repertoire and creative programming," commented TMC Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins.  "We are thrilled to work under the leadership of such an accomplished musician over the next two seasons while the TMC carries out an international search for our new artistic director.”   The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 2018/19 season starts with performances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Fall, including Benjamin Britten’s compelling War Requiem in a concert that commemorates 100 years since the conclusion of the First World War. The TMC’s own concert season begins in early December with Festival of Carols, the Choir’s annual joyous welcome to the season.  Then in January, a Free Community Concert will focus on the music of great composers from Canada and the United States. In February the TMC, with orchestra, will perform two great 18th century choral-orchestral masterpieces by Handel and Haydn. The season concludes with Sacred Music for a Sacred Space in April with a program that brings together two rich choral traditions: the French subtlety of Messiaen, Poulenc and Martin, and the mystical traditions of Eastern Europe and Russia.
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Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Releases.