Celebrating a Heritage of Excellence

For a living, growing, vibrant institution, a significant anniversary represents an occasion to not only celebrate the past, but also consider the present and future. For its 120th Anniversary Concert the TMC paid tribute to its heritage of excellence with a stunning classical concert, TMC Conductor Trading Cards, and a party with cake for all. But we didn’t just look backwards: our live webcast of this concert, and a pre-concert fund-raising reception demonstrated the TMC’s commitment to a legacy of changing lives through beautiful choral music.

Choosing a Celebratory Programme

Artistic Director Noel Edison and Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins began discussing how best to celebrate the TMC’s heritage of excellence early in 2014.A number of factors went into the decision to programme Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Requiem.

Above all, Artistic Director Noel Edison looked for works that represented the TMC’s heritage of performing grand symphonic repertoire. Noel feels that it is important for the Choir to keep focussed on its reputation for this repertoire: “It’s what we do,” he says, “and our challenge is to expose the city to these great traditions.”

The Haydn Lord Nelson Mass, Noel says, is a “great celebratory starter.” Nicknamed after Admiral Horatio Nelson after his momentous victory in the Battle of the Nile, the Mass is a work of celebration, entirely fitting for a grand anniversary.

Mozart’s masterpiece Requiem formed the second half of the concert. Noel chose this work because it “touches on all the emotional components of a great work: Triumph to tearful reflection, great fugal choral writing, great quartet ensemble writing, and great, ferocious hair-raising proclamations.” As such, the Requiem was a fitting vehicle for the TMC’s celebratory concert.

With this decision made, the Choir could order the music, engage soloists, book Koerner Hall, hire an orchestra, build the rehearsal schedule, and do the myriad other tasks that go into a concert.

Reuniting with Alumni: The Dress Rehearsal

The dress rehearsal for this season-opening, celebratory concert provided a cheerful opportunity for the TMC to re-connect with Alumni.  Sixty-three Alumni and guests listened to and watched this year’s Choir in the final preparations for the upcoming performance, and then enjoyed catching up over refreshments in the lobby of Koerner Hall.

The Big Night

Celebrating a Long History and Ensuring a Vibrant Future

In addition to kicking off the concert season, October 15 saw the kick off to the TMC’s 2014-15 fund-raising season with a fund-raising reception at Massey College. Prior to the concert, patrons mingled in the cozy Common Room for champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and speeches from Artistic Director Noel Edison and TMC Board Chair Michael Fricker. The reception ended in plenty of time for patrons to make the short walk to Koerner Hall for the concert. This year, the TMC will host several small, intimate opportunities for donors to support the Choir, including receptions, wine-tasting events, in addition to the annual Conductor’s Challenge campaign. Funds raised from our generous circle of donors allow the Choir to present a full season of concerts, Singsation Saturday workshops, webcasts, and other education and outreach activities as the champions of choral music in Canada.

Pre-Concert Chat

On the evening of October 15, over 900 patrons joined the Choir and orchestra at Koerner Hall. About 80 people arrived early and listened to music commentator Rick Phillips and TMC Pianist Jim Bourne give an informative pre-concert chat.

Trading Cards

In recognition of our 120th anniversary, the TMC created conductor trading cards – one for each of the seven conductors that have lead the TMC over the past 120 years! Each audience member received a commemorative card bearing a conductor’s likeness, and some key facts about that conductor. Some audience members got into the spirit of things, and used the intermission to trade their cards. Audience members at every TMC concert this season will have the opportunity to collect and trade cards. Good luck collecting all seven conductors!

The Webcast

The Choir’s live concert webcast program began in 2012, with webcasts of the Choral Conductors’ Symposium Community Concert from Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. For three years, online audiences have joined concert attendees, listening via a live-streaming of the concert on the TMC website. This year, the TMC has expanded its webcast program, thanks to a generous donation from TMC individual donors, including Lloyd and Dorothy Chiotti who sponsored the Mozart and Haydn webcast. The Mozart and Haydn concert marked the first in our expanded webcast series: 2014–15 will feature three webcast concerts. Even though we have some experience webcasting from Yorkminster Park, for our first time webcasting from Koerner Hall, the Choir had a learning curve to negotiate: setting up an account with a Livestreaming host website; renting cameras; “scripting” the shots, and directing the camera work from the booth. Director of Marketing Anne Longmore says:

It’s exciting to be able to bring the TMC and such great music to audiences across Canada and beyond. On the night of the concert there were webcast viewers from Halifax, NS, to Parksville on Vancouver Island, and beyond our borders to the U.S. and as far away as the Philippines.  Webcast viewers get to experience the full concert along with patrons in Koerner Hall, but with our “conductor cam” they also get a unique view of our conductors in full flight, a perspective that patrons in the Hall don’t have.

Associate Conductor Caron Daley agrees that the webcast adds a level of excitement “there’s a different sort of thrill about that; it adds a level of excitement for the conductor and the performers.”

Over 600 web patrons watched some of the concert along with the Koerner Hall audience on October 15; since then an additional 800 have accessed the archived recording.

The Concert

Artistic Director Noel Edison chose to open the concert with traditional settings of God Save the Queen, arranged by Sir Ernest MacMillan, and O Canada, arranged by Godfrey Ridout, in a nod to the performance practices of an earlier era.

Having taken full responsibility for rehearsing the Choir in the Lord Nelson Mass, Associate Conductor Caron Daley made her Koerner Hall conducting debut with this impressive, triumphal  work in the concert with grace and precision. This was a new piece for many of the choir: all but about six choristers were performing this piece for the first time.

By contract, the Mozart Requiem, conducted by Noel Edison after intermission, is a perennial choral favourite. Noel reports that he was “thrilled” with the Choir’s performance and with their ability to move, musically, as one unit, capturing both the drama and the pathos of Mozart’s writing.

After the final chord ended and Noel lowered his hands, the audience let the Choir know that the TMC, orchestra, and soloists upheld the tradition of choral excellence.

And then it was time for cake. Harbord Bakery and Calandria graciously provided cake for the Choir, orchestra, and all guests.

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