Singing through Centuries celebrates 125 years of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir!

Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. Interim Artistic Director David Fallis curated a magnificent program entitled Singing through the Centuries, a homage to the longevity of the Choir’s musical excellence. At his creative best, Fallis found works that not only showcased the music of three centuries, but also found music that uplifted the human spirit, including a newly commissioned piece by Cree-descended composer Andrew Balfour.
More

Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Reviews.

Singing through Centuries: TMC’s 125th – a review

Leslie Barcza, barczablog. Today the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir celebrated their 125th anniversary with a gala concert at Koerner Hall, joined for the occasion by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (who haven’t yet had their centennial, and who only came into existence in 1922). Led by the TMC’s Interim Conductor & Artistic Advisor David Fallis (whose title could also be “saviour” although he’d probably blush at the suggestion), the program he assembled, titled “Singing through Centuries”, is a fascinating nod to the occasion being celebrated.
More

Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir: Canada’s Oldest Choir Celebrates 125 Years

Denise Lai, La Scena Musicale. Founded in 1894, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC) is Canada’s oldest choir. It performed its first concert at the inaugural season of Massey Hall in January 1895. John McCrae, who famously penned the war memorial poem “In Flanders Fields,” was in attendance. Throughout its long history, the TMC has been served by eight artistic directors. Since 2018, David Fallis has been its interim conductor, and the choir undertakes an international search for an artistic director to take the helm in 2020-21.
More

Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Reviews.

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at 125

David Perlman, The Wholenote. Remarkably, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has had only eight conductors in the course of its 125-year history that will be celebrated in an anniversary gala concert at Koerner Hall this coming October 20. Even more remarkable, five of those – Augustus Stephen Vogt (1894-1917); Herbert A. Fricker 1917-1942; Sir Ernest MacMillan (1942-57); Elmer Iseler (1964-1998); and Noel Edison (1997 to 2018) – account for almost 120 years of the 125. This is not to say, however, that the length of an individual’s tenure is the sole indicator of its importance. There’s an old saying that if you want something done well, give it to a busy person. David Fallis, who took up the reins as the TMC’s interim artistic director in 2018 after the abrupt departure of Noel Edison, and will step down at the end of the coming season, is a case in point. By TMC standards it will have been a very brief tenure, but he will have made his mark at a pivotal moment for the choir. By the time this issue of the magazine has been published, he will have led the Choir’s September 28 Singsation workshop, and the TMC will be at work preparing for the October 20 anniversary concert, which Fallis will conduct, and beyond that, their annual Festival of Carols (December 3 and 4) at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra as their guests.
More

Categories: 2019-2020 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Symphony 2018-2019 #5: Romantic Opulence and Worldly Pleasures

Ken Stephen, Large Stage Live!. The combined forces of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Youth Choir acquitted themselves magnificently throughout the cantata, from the majestic opening cry of O Fortuna to the rapid-fire yet still completely clear diction of In taberna quando sumus or Veni, veni, venias.  The steadiness of the tone was noteworthy and the choral blend across the full dynamic range was an unfailing delight.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Reviews.

Unlikely Pairing Of Orff And Korngold Hits The Spot In TSO Revival

Joseph So, ludwig van Toronto. From the downbeat of “O Fortuna” onwards, it was a sonic journey of extraordinary impact. Sometimes this piece can come across as a tad bombastic, but under Runnicles’s baton, it was plenty loud but never overdone. There were moments of subtlety, underscoring the inherent lyricism of the work. But at the climaxes, it was thrilling, thanks to the inspired playing by the TSO, notably the brass and the woodwinds. ... And what can I say about the three choirs, except that they are the best. It was headed by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, surely a national treasure. The torrents of sounds were thrilling, full-bodied, incisive, rhythmically precise, exactly the way it should sound. The ending, a recap of the opening “O Fortuna,” was exhilarating, bringing the audience to its feet.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Reviews.

Pathways to the past with TSO Carmina Burana

Leslie Barcza, barczablog. I’ve heard a lot of versions of Carmina Burana and must recommend Runnicles’ distinctive interpretation. He connects the sections together rather than making big pauses, he pushes the tempi in the quicker passages, which is especially electrifying if you get your percussion & brass to opt for clear & crisp attacks. You won’t hear a better performance. This orchestra is in fine form coming towards the last few concerts of the year (this week & next). Credit too must go to David Fallis, who has the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir matching Runnicles’ requirements for clarity. The text was pristine, the dynamics sometimes beautifully restrained except in the big climaxes, so that the performance had more shape than usual (more than last time certainly). The soft singing still had great intensity, diction and consonants and energy but without being loud all the time. As a result? Extraordinary. If I could go see every concert this week, I would.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Reviews.

Choral maestro Andrew Balfour pursues his Indigenous identity through music

Carol Toller, The Globe and Mail. Toronto’s Tafelmusik and Mendelssohn choirs and the buzzy New York-based experimental ensemble Roomful of Teeth have all commissioned pieces from Balfour, and close to 20 groups across the country have performed his first published work, Ambe. The five-minute piece builds around a driving, rhythmic bass line that echoes the sound of a ceremonial drum – or, as Balfour has said, the heartbeat of Mother Earth – and projects a message of unity for all "two-legged beings.” The text is in Ojibway, and its energetic, welcoming message “seems to be something that people want to hear right now,” Balfour says.It’s a far cry from Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus and the rest of the Western canon that dominates choral programming in North America. And for Canadian choir directors, that may be what’s most exciting about Balfour’s work. He’s drawing on his First Nations identity to nudge the Canadian classical-music scene out of its stodgy Eurocentric traditions.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season, 2019-2020 Season, and Media Reviews.

A great blend of architecture and music

Michael Johnson, Concertonet.com. This year’s Easter presentation by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (“Sacred Music in a Sacred Space“) took place at St. Anne’s Anglican Church a heritage building whose interior was decorated in the 1920s by notable artists in a style hearkening back to art nouveau. The space thus related nicely with the program of 20th century music composed between 1910 and 1987, a time period that experienced the emergence of various musical philosophies and styles. The word “rapt“ best describes the approach of all eight composers.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir inspired by new venue for Sacred Music in a Sacred Space

David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir found a new venue for its annual concerts for Holy Week,Sacred Music for a Sacred Space. The new location, St. Anne’s Anglican Church, has a beautiful Byzantine style structure that dates to 1907 with interior decoration and paintings completed by J.E.H MacDonald and other members of the Group of Seven. Before the concert began many of the early birds in the audience were out of their seats getting closer looks and photos of the iconography on the walls and ceilings The symmetrical shape and the domed ceilings gave a warm acoustic without the excessive decay of Gothic styled churches. The setting was clearly one of Interim Conductor and Artistic Advisor David Fallis’s inspirations for the program.​The first half of the program was clearly designed to set the tone for a meditative experience. Two reflective motets by French composers opened the concert.
More

Categories: 2018-2019 Season and Media Reviews.