Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews
For the eighteenth consecutive year, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has begun its hectic December schedule of performances with its Festival of Carols. The cathedral-like Yorkminster Park Baptist Church was festooned with twenty-five foot high Christmas trees at either side of the chancel, lit with thousands of sparkling lights. The sounds of the TMC, organist David Briggs, the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army, and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company was glorious. This was indeed the beginning of a month of great music, celebration and festivities.
From the opening bars of Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of the Sussex Carol, the energy of the choir’s rhythmically charged singing was joyfully uplifting. The renowned English organist David Briggs enhanced the singing with richly colourful and rhythmic accompaniments on the magnificent four manual Cassavant organ. It didn’t hurt that conductor Noel Edison was wearing a red suit jacket to herald in the spirit of the season. It was clear that this concert was meant to connect with the audience on an emotional level. It was meant to bring back the memories of childhood with familiar melodies and carols.
The jubilant atmosphere continued with the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army led by bandmaster John Lam. With a brass processional followed by an upbeat medley of carols, the band was at its brilliancy best. The smiles on the faces of the choristers sitting and listening behind the band were telling.
Read the full review here.