Toronto Mendelssohn Choir sings glorious songs of Thanksgiving

Ken Stephen, Large Stage Live

On Saturday night, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir premiered what is undoubtedly the most intricate virtual concert I’ve yet seen.

Over a 50-minute span, the Choir presented music ranging from Bach to the present day, and across a geographic span that extended from Canada to Liverpool, and from Leipzig to the south of India.

Even more striking, this performance incorporated both visual art creation and dance alongside music — and dance in a style that cannot have been familiar to many in the online audience.

The technical complexity of the virtual programme was impressive indeed.  The professional core group of the choir, with pianist Gergely Szokolay, were filmed on the stage of the Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre on Bloor Street West in Toronto.  The instrumental ensemble, drawn from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, along with organist Matthew Larkin, were filmed on a separate occasion on the same stage.  In both cases, all required social distancing guidelines were followed.

Other members of the choir filmed themselves, singing at home, and one number was filmed by the father and daughter team of Trichy and Suba Sankaran together in their home.  The Odissi dancer, Supriya Nayak, was filmed in part in the balcony of Trinity-St. Paul’s, with the choristers behind her, and in part on a dark box-of-blacks stage lit only by lights trained on her.

Visual artist Jennylynd James was captured by a time-lapse video camera as she worked on her painting,

This diverse mass of video streams was mixed and assembled on screen with impressive aplomb.  I can only imagine the dozens — hundreds — of hours of work required after recording to assemble the entire programme.

Plainly, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is going “all in” to create concerts designed for online virtual presentation, rather than simply trying to film and present traditional concerts on line.  I give them full marks for having the courage to leap into these unknown waters of technical wizardry and the fusion of hybrid art forms into a single presentation.

Read the full review on Large Stage Live.