The TSO’s Mozart Requiem Warms the Heart On A Winter’s Night

Joseph So, Ludwig Van Toronto

Jenavieve Moore, sop., Jillian Bonner, mezzo, Charles Sy, ten., Trevor Eliot Bowes, bass., Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis, conductor. Roy Thomson Hall, January 18, 2020.

January is Mozart Month at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Each year, the TSO offers a delectable selection of his works over a span of about two weeks. Invariably there’s a vocal offering — this year it’s his Requiem, K 626, a piece that he did not live to finish. It’s astounding that, at all of 35 years old when he died, Mozart could have composed something so spiritually profound and musically transcendent as this Requiem Mass. It’s a work that truly defines his greatness.

A frequently performed Mozart piece at the TSO, the Requiem was last heard only four years ago. I had fond memories of experiencing Quebec conductor Bernard Labadie, returning after a serious battle with lymphoma, to lead a great quartet of soloists — Lydia Teuscher, Allyson McHardy, Frederic Antoun, and Philippe Sly. It also boasted a special staging by Against the Grain’s Joel Ivany, who gave the piece his uniquely personal stamp.

This time around, it was a conventional concert performance. The soloists were members of the Equilibrium Young Artists Initiative (EQ), the brainchild of Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan. In December 2018, it was announced that EQ and the TSO had established a partnership. Hannigan and Sir Andrew auditioned and chose the four early career soloists — soprano Jenavieve Moore, mezzo-soprano Jillian Bonner, tenor Charles Sy, and bass Trevor Eliot Bowes. They attended an intensive EQ workshop last summer with Hannigan at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) in Nova Scotia in preparation of their appearances here. …

To my ears, the glory of the evening belonged to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. At the risk of being branded Toronto-centric, I feel strongly that the TMC is the premiere choral ensemble in Canada. Despite not having a permanent conductor at the moment, the TMC continues to do well. The Sanctus and Rex tremendae were two of the many highlights of the evening.

Read the full review here.