Chair of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Board of Directors, Denny Young, today announced that Jean-Sébastien Vallée has been appointed as the TMC’s eighth Artistic Director.
“Jean-Sébastien’s appointment comes as TMC prepares to enter the post-pandemic era with a renewed and exciting commitment to choral music performance and creation. His outstanding record of artistic leadership ensures the continuation of TMC’s long and distinguished tradition of excellence. But more than that, his vision for choral music’s capacity to build inclusive communities perfectly aligns with TMC’s aspiration to be a catalyst for change. Jean-Sébastien has a demonstrated talent for creating extraordinary choral music by building inclusive ensembles, by promoting artists from Canada’s many diverse communities, and by creating innovative collaborations with organizations working in a variety of ways to build a more equitable country.” – Denny Young, Chair of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Board of Directors
Jean-Sébastien Vallée is currently Director of Choral Studies at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University; Conductor of the acclaimed Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal; and will conclude his tenure as Music Director of the Ottawa Choral Society with the 2021/22 season. He is an internationally recognized conductor, scholar, and pedagogue. Prior to his appointment at McGill University, he served as Director of Choral Studies at California State University in Los Angeles and was on the choral faculty of the University of Redlands. In addition to his interest in choral, operatic, and orchestral music, Jean-Sébastien is an advocate for contemporary music, making one of his priorities to premiere and commission works by young composers and program rarely performed repertoire. He has recorded extensively with the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, including Lux (ATMA 2017), the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems (ATMA 2018), and Distance (ATMA 2021). For a more detailed biography of Jean-Sébastien Vallée, read here.
Jean-Sébastien will join the TMC as of June 1st and will work with TMC Associate Conductor Simon Rivard during the transition season of 2021/22. Highlights of the TMC’s 2021/22 season will include Brahms’ Requiem, Festival of Carols with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO), Sacred Music for a Sacred Space concert in a collaboration with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and a new commission by Odawa First Nation composer Barbara Croall.
“I am truly honoured to be joining the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir as it begins its 128th season. It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest MacMillan, Elmer Iseler and all the esteemed Canadian musicians who led TMC over the past two centuries. Further, I look forward to working with the TMC’s choral artists to write a new chapter in the Choir’s history – a chapter where musical excellence is rooted in accessible, inclusive and diverse artistic initiatives. Now more than ever, the world needs music to foster and enable change in our society and I am inspired by the TMC’s commitment to being a national and international leader in re-thinking and re-imagining the possibilities of choral music. To me, musical excellence equates with a strong sense of community; therefore, I look forward to collaborating with the Board, and with Executive Director Anna Kajtar, Associate Conductor Simon Rivard, and the exceptional singers of the TMC to develop a creative space where all voices are heard, and where our work contributes to shaping the music community we need and hope to see.” – Jean-Sébastien Vallée, newly appointed Artistic Director of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Jean-Sébastien will also be working closely with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with whom the TMC performs regularly.
“Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has continued to be a vital artistic partner throughout the TSO’s history, including our annual performance of The Messiah. I am pleased to offer a heartfelt welcome to Jean-Sébastien Vallée, who I know will continue to evolve the choral artform, enrich the TSO audience experience and serve Toronto music lovers. I look forward to working with Jean-Sébastien and wish him the best as he embarks on his new role.” – Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director, Toronto Symphony Orchestra
The TMC’s extensive international search for a new Artistic Director was launched in 2018 under the direction of an 11-member search committee, chaired by TMC Board member Dick Freeborough. The Committee, which included external experts along with TMC board members and choristers, originally planned for a two-year process but, in March 2020, pandemic restrictions put the final stage of the selection process on hold. In early 2021, the Board decided to revive the final stage using a revised, yet still comprehensive, process. Board Chair Denny Young stated, “we were fiercely determined that TMC would emerge from the pandemic with a renewed energy and passion for choral music, and we knew that to achieve that goal we had to conclude the appointment without further delay.”
During his announcement to TMC choristers, Denny thanked all those involved in the search: “The TMC is grateful to the Search Committee for their diligent work, made harder by the pandemic, to the many conductors who sought to work with us, and to our short-listed candidates who showed amazing grace as the process changed and extended by a year.”
More details of the 2021/22 season will be announced in the coming months, including information on Jean-Sébastien Vallée’s conducting debut as TMC Artistic Director.
TMC Artistic Director-designate Jean-Sébastien Vallée and TMC Board Chair Denny Young will be available for interviews. Please contact Anne Longmore at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate.
TMC Artistic Directors
Augustus Stephen Vogt, 1894–1917
Herbert A. Fricker, 1917–1942
Sir Ernest Macmillan, 1942–1957
Frederick Sylvester, 1957–1960
Walter Susskind, 1960–1963
Elmer Iseler, 1964–1997
Noel Edison, 1997–2018
Jean-Sébastien Vallée, appointed in 2021
(During the Artistic Director Search, the Choir was led by David Fallis as Interim Conductor for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, and by Simon Rivard as Associate Conductor for the 2020/21 season.)
More on TMC history: