Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. The concert, billed as Romantics and New Romantics was not the usual fare of well-known popular tunes meant to please an undiscerning audience. Indeed, it was an hour and a half packed with choral gems from the 19th to 21st centuries. Not that for choral lovers there wasn’t a mix of new and familiar, this was a concert meant to touch the heartstrings of both the uninitiated and the seasoned concert goers. It did just that. (Guest conductor John William Trotter) is known for innovative approaches to presentation and Saturday’s concert was evidence. He demonstrated in this concert not only his ability to elicit fine musical expression from the choir, but also his ease in communicating with the audience.
Denise Lai, La Scena Musicale. Canada’s oldest choir celebrated its 125th birthday with a gala concert at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon. Interim artistic director David Fallis put together a diverse program that featured works from each of the three centuries in which the choir has performed. Among the many alumni and friends in attendance was Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. Interim Artistic Director David Fallis curated a magnificent program entitled Singing through the Centuries, a homage to the longevity of the Choir’s musical excellence. At his creative best, Fallis found works that not only showcased the music of three centuries, but also found music that uplifted the human spirit, including a newly commissioned piece by Cree-descended composer Andrew Balfour.
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.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir welcomes the holiday season with a concert of Yuletide favourites combined with some new discoveries. The Choir will be led by guest conductor Howard Dyck and will be joined by the Toronto Youth Choir (Matthew Otto, conductor), the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army (John Lam, bandmaster), and Michael Bloss on organ.
Conductor Howard Dyck has put together a program that brings together music of celebration and music for contemplation. It’s also a program that acknowledges some choral greats, including Healey Willan, while also featuring works by contemporary composers. The Choir will open with Healey Willan’s Hodie, Christus natus est. And later in the program the Choir will perform the world premiere of Toronto composer Stephanie Martin’s An Earthly Tree which was commissioned by St. John Cantius Church in Chicago as homage to Healey Willan in this year commemorating 50 years since his death. According to composer Stephanie Martin, “An Earthly Tree entwines the well-known Gregorian Christmas chant Hodie Christus natus est in 21st-century harmonies.”
David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. The lights dimmed at St. Paul’s Basilica bringing a hush over the capacity audience and suddenly heavenly a cappella sounds began wafting down from the balcony in the rear of the church. Since 2007, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has made it a tradition to present a concert of music appropriate for Holy Week in one of the most beautiful churches in Toronto on one of the Christian church’s holiest days, Good Friday. As the choir began to sing, I squelched the temptation to look back; looking upward at the colourful ceiling paintings of the life of Paul was as far as I dared turn my head. I was transfixed in the moment. The words of Behold the Tabernacle of God reinforced the feeling that I was in a ‘sacred’ space.
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.
The concert opened with Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus -- the piece that will forever be associated with the brilliance (and cheekiness) of Mozart, who, at the age of fourteen, wrote it down from memory after just one hearing. With the Miserere, Edison established an aesthetic tone that would govern most of the program: a precise and spacious treatment, notable for perfect intonation and for its restrained approach to tempo and dynamics. I don’t know who the unnamed stratospheric soprano was whose voice soared above all others, but her contribution was impressive.
David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. The pared down version of the choir, The Mendelssohn Singers, sang the first half of the program from the balcony above and behind the nave. The positioning gave a wonderfully mystic effect to the music, allowing the audience to focus on the sounds that reverberated off the arched columns and the vaulted ceiling of the ornately decorated church. The music of Allegri, Pärt and Sanders all made use of plainsong and choral responses to give life to the texts. The recurring solo treble descants in Allegri's Miserere Mei, Deus were particularly beautiful, the high “C” ringing throughout the church. This was a cappella singing at its finest.