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.

  • Acknowledging the ensemble’s name, we heard a pair of Psalm settings from Felix Mendelssohn, a composer highly esteemed at the time the choir began
  • From 1894, the very year of the choir’s founding, we heard one of the earlier versions of Fauré’s Requiem (that is, not the very first version from 1890 but also not the larger-scale versions that came later), to conclude the concert
  • From the 20th Century we heard Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, at the end of the first half of the concert
  • From the 21st Century we heard a TMC Commission by Andrew Balfour, his Mamachimowin following the intermission in its world premiere.

Since Fallis’s arrival with TMC the choir has a better sound. I’ve been listening to incarnations of TMC since my childhood, sometimes singing Messiah, sometimes working on symphonic repertoire with the TSO. They were impeccable today, rising to the occasion.

In a venue such as Koerner Hall there’s no place to hide. Where the more ambiguous acoustic of Roy Thomson Hall functions like Vaseline on the lens of a camera, hiding wrinkles or flaws, one hears every detail at Koerner: and TMC sound pretty wonderful for 125. It’s an ensemble with a lot of youth and great potential for the future.

Read the full review online.