David Friend, The Canadian Press
Noel Edison didn’t expect to rub shoulders with Lady Gaga when he attended the Grammy Awards for the first time, but the chorus master at the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir couldn’t resist the opportunity when it arose.
At the glitzy celebration for the 2010 awards in Los Angeles, Edison found himself standing near the “Bad Romance” singer. So he stuck out his hand and introduced himself.
“(I) said, ‘Look, I want to congratulate you — I think you’ve got a unique sound and a unique approach to this modern-day popular culture,'” he recalls.
“We had a nice chat with her big thugs standing around. We had a little vodka together, so that was fun.”
Edison didn’t win the Grammy that year, but he’ll have another chance on Sunday as he vies for best choral performance with his choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The Toronto performers share a nomination with British conductor Sir Andrew Davis for his daring take on Handel’s “Messiah,” which throws in new elements that elevate the composition’s theatrical flair.
Edison said he was intrigued by the changes Davis brought to his version of George Frideric Handel’s 1741 biblical epic, known through generations for its rousing “Hallelujah!” crescendo.
“He brought it into a modern setting with a lot more instruments,” Edison explained.
“He thickens it up, makes it bigger and more opulent in its colouring.”
Recorded at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall in December 2015, the Grammy-nominated project was a risky proposition when Davis envisioned it years earlier, the conductor said.
He felt purists might balk at his decision to add instruments like the English horn, oboe and piccolo. Even punching up the presence of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir could be seen as taboo.
But now that he holds his third Grammy nomination, Davis feels a sense of accomplishment in finding new grandiosity within the age-old baroque composition.
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