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. Visit the TMC History Tidbits page for weekly stories about the music, the people, the places and the events that have been an important part of TMC and Toronto musical history.
The Choir was founded by Augustus Stephen Vogt in 1894. Vogt went on to become principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1913 (later known as the Royal Conservatory of Music) and he helped establish the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto becoming its first Dean in 1918.
In the early years of the 20th century (before the founding of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1922), 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), the Pittsburgh Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cincinnati Orchestra.
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir presented the Canadian premieres of a number of major symphonic choral works: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony in 1921; William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast in 1936; Hector Berlioz’s Requiem in 1938; Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in 1964; and Krzysztof Penderecki’s St Luke Passion in 1971.
The TMC has commissioned and premiered a number of works by Canadian composers, from Healey Willan’s An Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts in 1921 up to Andrew Balfour’s Mamihcimowin in 2019 (to be premiered at the TMC’s 125th anniversary Gala concert with the TSO on October 20th.
Learn more about these and many other historical events on the TMC History Tidbits webpage which will be added to throughout the summer and fall, or by following TMChoir on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
(The photo in the header is of the Choir with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra of Chicago, taken in 1911 at Massey Hall. Photo: Toronto Public Library Archives.)