In the early years of the 20th century, the Choir brought a number of stellar American orchestras to Toronto for concerts, including the Theodore Thomas Orchestra of Chicago (which became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).
2019 marks TMC’s 125th anniversary. Founded in 1894, the Choir has performed in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, as Toronto went from a city of 200,000 to the Greater Toronto Area of over 6 million. Over its 125-year history the TMC is proud to have played a role in the development of Canadian classical choral music, particularly in Toronto. Discover some of Toronto’s choral music history through the TMC’s history.
TMC has a long history of commissioning works from Canadian composers. One of TMC's 21st century commissions is God so Loved the World by Timothy Corlis. This piece, for choir and solo cello, was commissioned for the TMC's 2013 Sacred Music for a Sacred Space concert at which it was premiered.
Massey Hall (named Massey Music Hall when it opened) and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir were both born in 1894 and have been part of each other's lives and the life of music in Toronto ever since.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir presented the Canadian premiere of Sir William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast on February 13, 1936 in Massey Hall with guest artists the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and under conductor Dr. Herbert Fricker (the Choir's second conductor who took over from Augustus Vogt in 1917).
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was founded by Augustus Stephen Vogt in 1894. He led the Choir until 1917 over which time he conducted 78 concerts, welcomed American orchestras to Toronto to perform with the Choir, and toured the Choir to Buffalo, New York City (at Carnegie Hall), Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston.
A popular song performed by the TMC many times during its first years was Scots Wha Hae, a patriotic song of Scotland with lyrics by Robert Burns.
The founder of the TMC, Augustus Stephen Vogt, served as organist-choirmaster at Jarvis Street Baptist Church from 1888–1906, where his choir became known for its a cappella singing. In 1894, in founding the TMC, Vogt drew many of the choristers from his Jarvis Street Baptist Choir.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has a long history with Canada’s national anthem. The Choir first performed the Thomas B. Richardson English version of O Canada (music by Calixa Lavallée) in 1907 at Massey Hall – long before it became Canada’s official national anthem.