Toronto Mendelssohn Choir announces winner of the 2016 Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition

Montreal composer Elizabeth Ekholm has been awarded the Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition for her composition Prayer of St. Francis.  This is the second year of the TMC’s Choral Composition Competition for emerging Canadian composers.  For 2016, the competition called on unpublished Canadian composers to submit a sacred work, not more than five minutes in length, for SATB or double choir, either a cappella or accompanied by organ.

In February a jury of three leading choral conductors assessed the compositions: Noel Edison, artistic director of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and conductor of the Elora Singers; Tim Shantz, artistic director of Luminous Voices and Spiritus Chamber Choir in Calgary, Alberta; and Mark Vuorinen, artistic director of the Grand Philharmonic Choir in Kitchener, Ontario. They awarded the Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition to Elizabeth Ekholm.  She receives the cash prize of $1000 and her work, Prayer of St. Francis, will be premiered at the TMC’s Choral Splendour concert at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church on Sunday, June 4, 2017 which will also be webcast live. (More concert details are available here:

Prayer of St. Francis is an a cappella work which is a setting of the Christian prayer for peace commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which starts  “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”  The jury commented: “There is a lovely sense of attention to the text and the overall piece is well thought out and executed. Ekholm uses beautiful, warm harmonic language, inventive transitions and modulations, and has a very nice melodic sense.”

Elizabeth Ekholm graduated from McGill University with a Ph.D. in Music Education, specializing in choral / vocal pedagogy.  She worked as a choral conductor and voice teacher for many years and her research in this field has been published in The Journal of Research in Music Education and The Journal of Voice, among others.  Dr. Ekholm sings professionally in several ensembles, including Christ Church Cathedral Singers, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Ensemble Scholastica and the St. Lambert Choral Society.

The Choral Composition Competition prize is made possible by a donation from Debbie Fleming, a TMC alumna who sang in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for 40 years and who retired from the Choir in June 2015.  The TMC is grateful for her commitment to the enrichment of the TMC’s education program and to the growth of Canadian choral music.

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