Grammy-nominated Toronto Mendelssohn Choir leader recalls brush with Lady Gaga

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.
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Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Halls Brings TSO Messiah Brilliantly Into Focus

Arthur Kaptainis, Ludwig Van Toronto. In the age of sexed-up and dumbed-down Messiahs, it is good to be reminded how utterly self-refreshing Handel’s masterpiece is when addressed by the right personnel under a conductor with something to say. Such were the conditions that prevailed Monday in Roy Thomson Hall, where Matthew Halls led the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and a crack quartet of Canadian soloists in through a performance that could fairly be called electrifying.
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Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

The enduring high note of Handel’s Messiah returning in dual Toronto productions

John Terauds, Toronto Star. No one expects a stopgap to turn into a masterpiece. But that’s what happened to George Frideric Handel when one of his collaborators, Charles Jennens, handed him some texts to set to music. Messiah has, since its premiere in Dublin at Easter time 275 years ago, become one of the best-loved pieces of classical music in the English-speaking world. Toronto is no exception, becoming a virtual shrine to Messiah at this time every year. The city’s two flagship orchestras — the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on modern instruments, and Tafelmusik Orchestra on historical ones — present multiple performances every December. The two-hour oratorio, either in part or whole, is also heard in churches, cathedrals, schools and community concerts from the city core to rural villages.
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Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Huddersfield Choral Society combine to create choral ecstasy!

Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. Yesterday’s concert was a momentous celebration of the great music that grew out of the nineteenth century British choral tradition. It included the music of the famed British composers Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Parry, Holst, Stainer, Sullivan and Tavener as well as Canadians Healey Willan and Elizabeth Ekholm, each heavily influenced by the musical traditions of England. The concert began with organist Michael Bloss performing the long introduction to Handel’s Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest. The first sound of the two hundred voice combined choir shook me so intensely that the majesty of the music overwhelmed me at a visceral level. It was a sound that produced goosebumps throughout the entirety of my body.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Record Keeping: Why Mess With Handel’s “Messiah”?

Paul E. Robinson, Musical Toronto. Handel’s Messiah has been with us for a very long time. A work clearly beloved by millions of people, its presentation is an annual Christmas event in many cities. So why mess with it? People love it the way it is. What moved Sir Andrew Davis to rewrite the piece?
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Charles Jennens: The unsung hero of Handel’s Messiah

Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail. In this season of goodwill and compassion, spare a moment for the forgotten man of Christmas. His name is Charles Jennens. You probably have never heard of him, but every Christmas, you probably listen to, if not sing, at least some of the words he crafted together. Jennens is the man who assembled the texts for Handel’s Messiah. The very fact that we call it Handel’s Messiah demonstrates exactly how much we value Jennens’s contribution to the oratorio. Yet a compelling case can be made that it is Jennens’s compilation of biblical texts, most from the Old Testament, that is as responsible for Messiah’s enduring power as Handel’s music. A radical suggestion.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Is Toronto Getting Tired Of Messiah Yet?

Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto. As for the chorus, the Toronto Mendelsohn Choir were on stage arranged on risers behind the orchestra. The aural effect was worthwhile. Rather than the typical arrangement of situating the chorus in the choir loft, on stage allowed for a centralised and cohesive reference emanating through the orchestra. TMC’s female voices were in particularly fine form, and the overall balance was both polished and powerful. I think we all agree how lucky we are in Toronto to have a choir like the TMC to keep choral music at such a high standard in our city.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Messiah watch

Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette. Messiah watch: There was a time when I offered a ritual recommendation of the 1987 EMI Toronto Symphony/Toronto Mendelssohn Choir recording of Handel’s oratorio under Andrew Davis, which even at the time was swimming against the historicist flow by using fairly large forces. Now the British conductor has created a recording of his own “new concert edition,” which applies all manner of modern instrumental accoutrements to the masterpiece, marimba not excluded. Again the TSO and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir are the ensembles. The label is Chandos. I am sure Sir Andrew would agree that this should not be the only Messiah on your shelves. Certainly, it has its striking and high-spirited moments, but I find it rather like a walk through the toy department.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Enjoy TSO’s take on Messiah in the comfort of your own home

Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail. Captured live in December, 2015 (Sir Andrew Davis's reimagined Messiah), the recording features soloists Erin Wall, Elizabeth DeShong, Andrew Staples and John Relyea, along with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. And while this second-coming album affords you the luxury to bust out your hallelujahs in the comfort of your own living room, automobile or wherever, there’s nothing like witnessing the Messiah in person.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.

Daily Telegraph Review: Messiah CD

Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Chandos. 5 stars ... "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" and "All We Like Sheep" are highlights, sung by the superb 150-strong Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with a fugal exhilaration that doesn't preclude exemplary diction and precision. They are the starts of the show, but all four soloists are excellent too.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Media Reviews.