Voices from the Choir

We talked about the TMC and the future with TMC members.

David Powell, Baritone
Timmy Mo, Tenor
Marg Rappolt, Alto
Joanne Tang, Soprano 2

David Powell, Baritone

David Powell

Baritone David Powell

What do you think it means to be the Champions of Choral Music in Canada at the moment?

To be “the champions” we need to be clearly at the top of the game, and recognized as the best of our breed. We need to reach a broad audience, other choristers and sources of funding who see TMC as worth sustaining and able to promote the tradition of great choral music. But in addition to being a model of choral excellence and representing traditional oratorio music, we need to champion choral music more broadly, to somehow promote choirs of all kinds and at all levels across the country.

How do you think that will change in the future?

There are many challenges in our environment that we need to address or cope with: increasing ethnic diversity – more and more people in our local “market” are unfamiliar with our classical repertoire and may have never heard a church choir; continually less funding available from traditional sources; the proliferation of free recordings of great performances available to people anytime, anywhere on the Internet. I like the strategy of trying to make a special connection with all the groups and stakeholders who attend our performances, adhere to the choir and provide funding. But to address the longer term changes, I think we need to find our way into the souls of a future different audience. Also we need to develop that future audience through outreach, collaboration and apprenticeship. Then when a good segment of the people love our great choral music and see us as the champions, the funding will come.

What would you like to see the TMC do in the next five years in the context of the arts scene in Toronto and in Canada?

One dream involves a world-class choral festival in Toronto (like TIFF) that becomes an annual tradition and draws a lot of people and money to Toronto. That would bring out Toronto’s various ethnic choirs and audiences, and bring in world-class talent who sing a wide range of choral music. This concept could grow out of Luminato, then take a life of its own. Another dream is to foster a love of choral music among high school and college level students, by collaborating with them and singing more of the music that would appeal to them – these young people will aspire to join TMC in the future and will attend our concerts with their friends and families. We could develop a much more significant Youth Choir, possibly under the direction of our associate conductor.

Who would you like to see the TMC collaborate with in the future?

As described in my dreams above, I believe we should be developing strong long-term relationships through regular collaboration with youth choirs, and with various ethnic choirs across the GTA. We should welcome and host other choirs from across Canada to join us in rehearsals and performances.

What composers or works do you dream of performing with the TMC?

Clearly, taste in music is very personal, and I am quite a traditionalist. The last two years have been wonderful for me: Mozart Requiem, Faure Requiem, Bach Mass in B Minor, Carmina Burana, Mahler Symphony 2 (Resurrection), Beethoven 9th Symphony, Verdi Requiem. But my taste is expanding as I have really enjoyed learning new works each year, across many genres. I look forward to whatever we perform in future.

Timmy Mo, Tenor

Timmy Mo

Tenor Timmy Mo

What do you think it means to be the Champions of Choral Music in Canada at the moment?

It means that we have to work hard at increasing interest in both old and new choral music, either by putting on great concerts or by developing programs (such as Singsation Saturdays) that allow us to reach out to the choral community.

How do you think that will change in the future?

I think we especially have a responsibility to champion choral music to today’s youth. I can’t speak to others’ experiences, but when I attended University, a lot of my peers, even those who enjoy or practice other forms of classical music, strangely had little desire to find out more about choral music. I think any choir that calls itself the Champions of Choral Music has a responsibility to try to make choral music “accessible and inspirational” (to quote TMC’s website) to today’s youth—to the point that they would consider coming to choral concerts as exciting as they would a night out at the symphony.

What would you like to see the TMC do in the next five years in the context of the arts scene in Toronto and in Canada?

I think the pop-up concerts we’re doing this year and the performance we’re doing with Luminato are very exciting! I’d like to see more projects like these in the future.

Who would you like to see the TMC collaborate with in the future?

I don’t have any specific organization in mind, but it would be fun for the TMC to collaborate with choirs that perform music of other cultures.

What composers or works do you dream of performing with the TMC?

I wasn’t in the choir when the TMC performed Bach’s Mass in B minor last year. I had a period of obsession with Bach when I was younger, so I hope the TMC performs that again sometime. I also dream obligatorily of performing Mendelssohn with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Finally, I’d love to explore with the TMC more works by Canadian composers and women composers.

Marg Rappolt, Alto

Marg Rappolt

Alto Marg Rappolt

What do you think it means to be the Champions of Choral Music in Canada at the moment?

The quality of our sound and repertoire is still being recognized as first class in Canada and beyond. We have evolved our legacy and have remained relevant and responsive to many musical communities of interest.  We are delivering consistent artistic excellence at a very high standard.

How do you think that will change in the future?

I think we need to keep doing what we are doing. Striving for excellence; understanding how to reach out to new audiences;  sustaining web casts;  delivering the right balance of traditional and innovative repertoire.

What would you like to see the TMC do in the next five years in the context of the arts scene in Toronto and in Canada?

I love the fact that we are performing in new venues in Toronto. Our concerts at Holy Trinity were really well received. And, the pop-ups will encourage audiences that are likely really unfamiliar with our sound to get to know us. The upcoming collaborations with Luminato this summer, and with André Laplante in next year’s concert program will be terrific opportunities to keep up our profile on the national stage.

Who would you like to see the TMC collaborate with in the future?

We need to keep experimenting with different kinds of artistic collaborations, and then monitor carefully audience responses.  I really like the idea of the choir being partnered with other notable musicians, instrumentalists from a range of genres.

What composers or works do you dream of performing with the TMC?

Given I’ve been in the choir a long time, I’ve had the opportunity to sing a lot of dreamy repertoire!  It’s great that we sing a mix of beautiful familiar major works, along with works from contemporary and less familiar composers.  It’s still a great privilege to be part of so much great choral music-making.

Joanne Tang, Soprano 2

Joanne Tang

Soprano 2 Joanne Tang

What do you think it means to be the Champions of Choral Music in Canada at the moment?

At the moment I think it means being a supporter and participant of choral performance in all its available styles and traditions.

How do you think that will change in the future?

This may or may not change in the future … I’m actually not too sure whether it needs to change.

What would you like to see the TMC do in the next five years in the context of the arts scene in Toronto and in Canada?

It would be great if we continue to do gigs like pop-up concerts, and be a part of festivals such as Luminato like we’re doing this season. I also think it would be amazing to continue to broaden our range from Mahler and Brahms to Gershwin and to Broadway. I think this would give us a wider perspective and the audience an interesting listening experience!

Who would you like to see the TMC collaborate with in the future?

It would be wonderful if the TMC could collaborate with Bramwell Tovey more often in the future. Also wonderful if we could collaborate with Steven Reineke more often. They each injected a different kind of energy into the Choir when we worked with them last year. Also, not sure how feasible this would be, but I think it’d be really interesting if we could collaborate with Karen Burke and the Toronto Mass Choir, or Gail Suderman and the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir. I love listening to Gospel but I have never sung it. It would be fantastic to learn and sing it with the TMC.

What composers or works do you dream of performing with the TMC?

Any old-time Gospel favourites, I dream of performing with the TMC. I also dream of performing any medley of opera choruses by Puccini or Verdi with the Choir (Tosca, La Bohème, Aida … )