From the Executive Director’s Desk – Fall 2015

One of reasons choral singing became and remains a significant part of my life has to do with the deep sense of community that the choral music experience can engender. I believe the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir does this in spades.
More

Categories: Executive Directors Desk and Fall 2015.

New Season, New Associate Conductor: Welcome Jennifer!

New Season, New Associate Conductor: Welcome Jennifer! There is a new figure on the TMC podium this year: in September, Jennifer Min-Young Lee took over the position of Associate Conductor for a two-year term. Jennifer is no stranger to the TMC. A former member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, she also participated in the 2013 Choral Conductors’ Symposium, while studying conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY. In fact, Jennifer says, that she has had the goal of working as the Associate Conductor in mind for a long time, and that this goal is, in fact, what motivated her to apply for the Symposium. “I felt there was a hole in my training,” she says, “And that was the opportunity to work with a bigger ensemble.” The Associate Conductor posting was “a perfect opportunity.” “I can’t really imagine anything more exciting,” Jennifer smiles, praising the TMC’s responsiveness and flexibility. She has found the Choir to be very welcoming, with a refreshing paucity of divas. She is finding that her role as the Associate Conductor provides a “perfect environment” to grow as a musician, and to make music: “I get to see Noel conduct 120-plus singers, and guest conductors as well,” she says. TMC audience members witnessed Jennifer’s lyrical and precise conducting at the German Romantics concert at Koerner Hall. In addition to rehearsing the entire German Romantics programme with the Choir, Jennifer conducted four pieces by Schubert. Noel Edison, Artistic Director of the TMC, says he was “thrilled,” with her performance and is generally “delighted” to be working with Jennifer. “She has a lyrical, precise gesture, and is very sensitive and receptive, but also energetic and enthusiastic,” Noel says. Of course, no artistic endeavour is without challenges: Jennifer says that conducting the sheer number of singers in the TMC is taking some getting used to. The Choir makes a big sound, rehearses in a large room, and contains a lot of singers! But she is getting used to the Choristers and to working with a large group. The TMC is not just large, though! Comprising mostly volunteer singers, the Choir consists of more than 120 singers who come to rehearsal each week (sometimes several times a week!) for the sheer joy of making glorious music. Jennifer is enjoying the passion and positive attitudes that singers bring to rehearsing and performing for enjoyment. Next Article »
More

Categories: Fall 2015 and Voice.

From the Executive Director’s Desk – Spring 2015

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 121st season has been hugely exciting, with an average of 92 percent of house at TMC performances, a new series of concert webcasts that have garnered 11,622 followers, and a pair of pop-up concerts that received front page coverage in the Toronto Star. Where do we go from here? you might ask.
More

Categories: Executive Directors Desk, Spring 2015, and Voice.

Looking Ahead with Noel and Cynthia

We sat down with Artistic Director Noel Edison and Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins to talk about artistic excellence and how the TMC as an organization can maintain its hard-earned excellence in a changing arts landscape.
More

Categories: Spring 2015 and Voice.

Alumni Futures

Whether a chorister's tenure with the TMC has ended after a single year or has spanned decades, an invitation to join the TMC alumni lies at the end of their days as a full chorister. We value our alumni members, many of whom maintain active connections with the TMC family, singing at Singsations or as part of the Alumni Singers programme, attending concerts, and volunteering in the office. So it is important to the TMC that we find ways to stay engaged, connected, and associated with choristers who have transitioned to the alumni.
More

Categories: Spring 2015 and Voice.

Moving on Up: Apprentices on the Edge

The TMC Apprentice program is growing by leaps and bounds. This year saw a record 12 apprentices. Five of these young singers have come to the end of their TMC apprenticeships, and will be eligible to audition as full, adult TMC members for the 2015-16 season. We caught up with four “graduating” apprentices to chat about their plans for the future.
More

Categories: Spring 2015 and Voice.

Planning (Strategically) for Excellence

“The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir will be the champion for choral music in Canada, striving to change lives, directly and indirectly, through performances and educational programming.” [Mission Statement from 2012-15 TMC Strategic Plan.] This could mean any number of things: ...
More

Categories: Spring 2015 and Voice.

From the Executive Director’s Desk – Winter 2015

Almost ten years ago, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir undertook what was to become a pivotal strategic planning process in the recent history of the organization. Over a series of soul-seeking workshops, a small group of TMC stakeholders took a long and hard look at what we were doing and why we were doing it and created a series of statements that articulated the Choir’s Mission, Vision and Core Values.
More

Categories: Executive Directors Desk and Winter 2015.

Communities of Support – Winter 2015

Communities of Support by Cynthia Hawkins, Executive Director In preparation for this Voice of Mendelssohn article, I happened upon a recent survey published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (a North American organization which provides leadership to the charitable sector, including 3,500 Canadian members). The 2013 Fundraising Survey reports that 57% of Canadian responding nonprofits saw an increase in fundraising contributions over last year. In addition, 53% reported receiving between 50% and 100% of their philanthropic funds from individual donors. When asked which issues most affected fundraising results, 73% of respondents commented that the highest contributors to their success were their ability to build strong donor relationships, and their commitment to the organization’s mission and programming. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir budgets about 39% of its revenue per year from the private sector, with 48% of those gifts coming from individual donors – the members of the TMC circle of connections who are most emotionally connected to our performances and programs. Beginning last season, we put renewed emphasis on building strong, active relationships with the members of our community. We began to change the way in which we approach and interact with these stakeholders, affirming their commitment to the TMC or striving to increase their engagement with us. We have refreshed the TMC’s newsletter, the Voice of Mendelssohn, in a new online format circulated to our closest members – choristers and alumni, board and staff, TMC Legacy Circle and current donors. We hold an annual series of community building events, ranging from an open house in the TMC’s new office and library space to private receptions. We continue to strengthen our alumni program through open rehearsal and dinner events, and the opportunity to sing at select concerts. We keep in touch with donors through personalized emails, handwritten notes and phone calls. Last year we took a fresh look at the Conductors’ Challenge and re-envisaged the chorister campaign to encourage participation in ways that are meaningful to them; fostering community spirit and strengthening ties between the choristers’ own circles of connections and the organization. We began to engage current and new stakeholders on social media, posting articles and events of interest to all choral communities. This focus on building and strengthening relationships is already bearing new fruit. The commitment of our choristers to the organization beyond attending rehearsals and performances is exemplary – choristers are selling tickets, attending workshops, making donations, and
More

Categories: Winter 2015.