What does it take to sing together in the time of Covid-19?

Lots of planning!

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is planning many online programs for the Fall, but we really wanted to gather together (safely) in person to say good-bye to David Fallis who is completing his two year term as Artistic Advisor and conductor, and to welcome Simon Rivard who joins us as Associate Conductor for the 2020/21 season.

So, we

  • Found an appropriate outdoor space (the park in front of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church).
  • Got singer’s masks (cloth masks with more room that make it easier for singers to open their mouths fully and stay covered) sewn for us by Toronto-based Diana Coatsworth Design based on a design created by Joan Fearnley, an Ottawa-based singer and choir director who shared her design widely to help other choirs.
  • Marked out the grass with physically-distanced markers to show where choristers could stand or sit.
  • Emailed music to be sung to choristers to print out (or upload to a tablet) at home.
  • Sent a mandatory health questionnaire to choristers to be completed the day of the event.
  • Zoomed the event so that choristers who couldn’t attend or were uncomfortable attending could participate.

On Monday, August 31, the weather held and a group of TMC choristers and conductors gathered for an hour. Three TMC conductors took turns conducting the singers and making music – our 2019/20 conductor David Fallis and associate conductor Ezra Burke, and our new 2020/21 associate conductor Simon Rivard. Our collaborative pianist Gergely Szokolay was on hand with a portable keyboard.  We welcomed  53 singers to the park – 44 current TMC choristers and nine TMC alumni who have recently sung with us. Under the leadership of David, Ezra and Simon, the choristers sang

  • Hashiveinu & By the waters of Babylon in round
  • Song of the Mendelssohn (composed by David Fallis for the Choir during the pandemic)
  • Felix Mendelssohn: Psalm 43: Richte mich, Gott
  • W.A. Mozart: Ave verum corpus
  • Andrew Balfour: Ambe
  • Maurice Duruflé: Ubi Caritas

This was the first time that our singers could make music together in person since March – a moving experience for all.

See below for a video of the Choir singing Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas and a photo of the choristers.