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Volume 13 - Issue 6 - March 2008

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu

Choral Sceneby Allan Pu IkerFor a choir, the conductor is its heart and soul. It is he or she whogives a choir its sound and its style, who determines what it sings andmost significantly, the calibre of singer attracted to sing under his/her leadership. Small wonder that there are and have been choirsnamed after their conductors - in Canada, for example, the LeslieBell Singers, the Don Wright Singers, the Elmer Iseler Singers, theFagan Singers and south of the border the Norman Luboff Chorale,Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians and the Robert Shaw Chorale.It is, then, a time of crisis and opportunity when a conductorleaves a choir and the need arises to select a successor. This is whathas been occurring for the Toronto Chamber Choir: David Fallis,who has been the choir's music director since 1984, will leave thechoir at the end of this season. He gave his notice last spring to givethe choir adequate time to find a replacement and to plan the 2008-09season. The choir's executive wasted no time responding to Fallis'sresignation. In an ad in the June issue of WholeNote the choir announcedthat it was "searching for a new conductor with energy andcreative vision." By the September 30 application deadline they hadreceived dozens of applications, whereupon a process of shortlistingand auditioning the most promising candidates was begun. By the endof December, the choir selected a choral conducting specialist in thenew Doctor of Musical Arts program at the University of Toronto,Mark Wuorinen. One member of the choir explained that Mark' sstrong academic and conducting background combined with his personablemanner made him an ideal choice.When I spoke to Mark he was equally enthusiastic about his newposition, saying unequivocally that he was "thrilled! " The audition,he explained, was not only an opportunity for the choir to experiencepotential conductors but also an opportunity for the potential conductorsto experience the choir. "The choir, " he observed, "sings musicallyand has immersed itself in exceptional music; it has been invery good hands. "I asked David Fallis what he saw as his greatest achievementwith the Toronto Chamber Choir. "The environment has changed,"he said, "with the growth of Tafelmusik. I have always tried to dounusual repertoire and to put a unique stamp on the choir through mychoice of music written before 1800. " He went on to mention Charpentier'sGrand Office des Morts , a little-known oratorio by C.P.E.Bach and, surprisingly , many of J.S. Bach's cantatas, most of which,he said, are seldom performed, as examples of the sort of repertoirethe choir has embraced. Asked what his priorities were in makingthe transition to his successor, he said simply that he wanted to facilitateand be as helpful to the new conductor as he wanted .I asked Mark about his priorities in the transitional phase. Understandably,programming for the 2008-09 season was his highest priority.He has maintained the patterns established by David Fallis,continuing the "Kaffeemusik" concerts and the practice of lecturedemonstrations,part of the choir' s educational mandate. He is alsocommitted to continuing and hopefully expanding the outreach program,in which the choir selects by audition a student from RosedaleHeights School of the Arts to be a mentored member of the choir.The choir also does an annual choral workshop at the school.Sprlng, T'he Sweet SpnngSaturday,. April 26, 2 08,. ,phi-Willowdate Umted Clnmzb', :s; ~< eth. AvenueToronto Chamber Choir musical directors old (David Fallis, right)and new (Mark Wuorinen, left).On March 29 the Toronto Chamber Choir will present a programcalled The Golden Age of Tudor Music, with music of the EnglishRenaissance by Tallis, Taverner and Byrd. Very much in DavidFallis's spirit of facilitation and collaboration, conductor designate,Mark Wuorinen, will conduct part of the program. In keeping withthe choir's educational mandate, there will be a pre-concert lectureat6:30.Choirs in MarchWith the choral blossoming of Christmas long past, March is a verygood month for choral music. In a typical three-concert season therewill be concerts in November or December, March and May. OnMarch 1 there are four choral concerts by four very different choralorganizations, the Amadeus Choir, the Tallis Choir (doing one of myfavourite pieces, Rachmaninoff' s Vespers), the Toronto Welsh MaleVoice Choir and the Oriana Women's Choir, and on March 2 theMississauga Choral Society, the Orpheus Choir and Victoria Scholarsall have concerts.March 21 , Good Friday, will be observed musically by performancesof major works. The Fagan Singers and Fanshawe ChorusLondon will perform Berlioz' s Requiem in London; the Grand PhilharmonicChoir will perform Bach's St. John Passion in Kitchener,and in Toronto the same work will be presented by MetropolitanUnited Church. Also in Toronto, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir willpresent J .S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. Earlier in the month, on March8 The Cellar Singers will perform the St. John Passion under thedirection of guest conductor Robert Cooper, with the choir's regularconductor, Albert Greer, singing the part of the evangelist. Late inthe month, on March 29, the Amadeus Choir will perform anothercornerstone of the oratorio repertoire, Felix Mendelssohn' s Elijah.While it is great to listen to choral music, it's even better to bepart of it. Take a look at section S of the listings, "Master Classes,Workshops, etcetera." On March 1 you will find "Singsation Saturdays,"a choral workshop presented by the Mendelssohn Choir andM ar. 16 - 10:30amPalm SundayCommunion withMass in G by SchubertChoir & StringsHumbercrest United Church16 Bab Point Road, TorontoM ar. 21 - llamGood FridayIncludes Requiem byMalcolm ArcherChoir & OrganM ar. 23 - 10:30amEaster SundayLiturgy includesMusic forTrumpet & Organ18 WWW. THEWHO LENOTE.COM M ARCH 1 - A PR IL 7 2008

led by High Park Choirs director,Zimfira Poloz. On March 2CAMMAC presents a reading ofBach's cantata BWV 4, Christlag in Todesbanden , led by BradRatzlaff; on March 27 the TorontoEarly Music Centre's VocalCircle gives singers a chance tosing Renaissance and Baroquechoral music and for those interestedin pushing the choral envelope,go to CAMMAC's VocalJazz Workshop led by Dylan Bellon April 5.On a more personal note, Ichatted last week with Tim, abarista at Jet Fuel on ParliamentStreet. In fact , I promised tobring him "Carmen Unzipped"next time I'm there to play JeanStilwell 's beguiling performanceof Marcy Heisler and ZinaGoldrich's Taylor the Latte Boyjetfuel for every barista's imagination!Tim told me about histhree summers singing in theOntario Youth Choir and what apowerful and memorable experiencethat was for him. Now, justput his story together with thenews that the Glenn Gould Prizehas just been awarded to JoseAbreu, among whose accomplishmentsis the organization ofa national system of musicaleducation in Venezuela. Theyoung are touched by art, theirlives and spirits helped andshaped by it, but they need opportunities.Isn't it time that we herein Canada made sure that everychild is singing every day atschool and not just any old howbut under the inspired direction ofteachers who understand fromthe inside what music means toyoung people and the difference itcan make in their lives?BOSLEYREAL ESTATEDOS LEY ~E ;..L [ STATE l TD., 1:EAL T C P.oralUsette Canton, director" ·it It Nathalie Douce1-Lalk.eus, p ianoMarch 1 l. 7:30 p1nYork University Chamber Cbofr with theYork University Chamber Orchestradirected by Mark Ch ambersBaroque MagnificenceWorks by Bach, Buxtehude, Lotti, Monteverdi, Purce ll, Schutz.March 25., 8:00 pmYork University Women's Chm·usWorks by Casa ls, Orban, Mendelssohn, Noble, Patriq uin, Pou lenc, Wa lkerMarch 31. 7:30 pmYork University Concert & Chamber· ChoirsCarl Orff: Catulli Carmina with pianos, percussion and soloistsMack Wi lbert, arr: CindyKaren Burke, directorMarch 28, 7:30 pmYork University Gospel ChoirContemporary Gospel favourites by Richard Sma llwood,John P Kee, Kirk Franklin and othersSpecial guest Gram my Award-winning singer Carvin Winans* This concert will be reprised March 30, 730pmat Christian Centre Church, 4545 Jane St.PETER MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petennahon.comMARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2008Tribute Conn11u11itics Recital I lal\ I Accolade East BuildingYork U11ivcrairy I 4700 Keele Sncet I TorontoAclrnissio11 : S15/,;111dc11h 85Box Office 416.7.36.5888,Yww. york u .ca/fi 11ear1 s/ fesi i mlWWW .TH EWHOLENOTE,CO M 19

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