TMC, TSYO and TSO collaborate on a virtual choral-orchestral work – Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine

The video is available on YouTube:

Concert cancellations due to Covid-19 and the desire to keep sharing music has led to performances all around the world by virtual choirs and by virtual orchestras. The TSO’s RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard thought, why not choir and orchestra together?

Building on the long-standing collaboration between the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Simon set out to bring together (virtually) musicians from these three groups to share Gabriel Fauré’s lush and well-loved Cantique de Jean Racine.

126 musicians recorded their parts, following detailed artistic guidance by conductor Simon Rivard. The 126 tracks were then edited by tech wizard, musician and TMC chorister Dennis Kwok in collaboration with Simon.

The musicians

70 choristers – 69 from the TMC, 1 from the TSYO

56 orchestral musicians – 40 from the TSYO, 15 from the TSO, and 1 from the TMC

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, David Fallis, interim conductor and artistic advisor
Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Simon Rivard, RBC Resident TSO Conductor and TSYO Conductor
Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis, Interim Artistic Director

The music

Fauré composed this work in 1864–65 when he was 19. The text “Verbe égal au Très-Haut” (“Verb, one with the Highest”), is a French paraphrase by 17th century playwright Jean Racine of a Latin hymn from the breviary for matins, Consors paterni luminis.

This well-loved work is performed by many great choirs and has been performed with piano, with organ and with orchestra.

5 minutes, 18 seconds.

The work to create a virtual performance

Hours of preparation by conductor Simon Rivard to provide artistic interpretation and direction to the choral and orchestral musicians through Zoom meetings and detailed notes

Practice and then individual recordings made at home by 126 choral and orchestral musicians.

Over 80 hours of audio and video editing by Dennis Kwok.

Conductor Simon Rivard, the artistic lead on this project, has commented: “I wanted to build on the longstanding collaboration between two great Toronto arts organizations – the TMC and the TSO. The collaboration between these organizations is even more precious now as the arts community looks for ways to move forward during the time of Covid-19 and create together new ways to share the arts with people around the world who need the solace of wonderful music more than ever.”