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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Toronto's flagship Mendelssohn Choir continues to diversify with community singing, webcasts

By John Terauds on January 16, 2014

This week the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has quietly released the results of its latest annual general meeting. But the rest of what the city’s oldest choral society does is not so quiet.

The last few years have not been the easiest for the organization, founded in 1894. It shared space and many concerts for three-quarters of a century with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra — first at Massey Hall, then at Roy Thomson Hall.

The Mendelssohnians sang in Carnegie Hall in 1907 — well before there even was a permanent Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The choir still joins the Toronto Symphony several times a year, but was asked to move out of Roy Thomson Hall last season. Headquarters is now in the Annex, and the Mendelssohn performs in smaller venues: Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Koerner Hall and St Paul’s Basilica.

According to a press release summarizing the choir’s current state, income was steady and single ticket sales increased over 2011-12.  Even with slightly more than $760,000 in revenue, the organization still lost money — an annual problem that continues to be covered by its endowment fund.

“The goal of the TMC organization is to get on stronger financial footing so that revenues from the Legacy Fund can be re-invested to secure stronger growth in this fund to provide for future endeavors,” said the release.

Choral singing is not sexy or cool, but it’s the single most popular way for people to make, not just listen to, music. Besides holding auditions every year for people who want to join, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has further tried to extend its reach into the community with come-one-come-all Saturday-morning choral-reading sessions.

The next one happens this week at Yorkminster Park, featuring Maurice Duruflé’s gorgeous Requiem setting. The guest conductor is Oriana Women’s Choir artistic director Mitchell Pady. You’ll find the details here.

The Mendelssohn Choir also now hosts an annual conductors’ symposium, where five young professionals arrive from various parts of the continent to hone their skills. This year’s affair ends with a big concert on Feb. 1. Details here.

The third way in which the venerable organization has tried to reach out is by streaming its concerts on the Web — an increasingly popular form of musical outreach around the world.

This year’s annual report came with two infographics that neatly put into images what the choir is all about — and how broad its reach can potentially get:

champion-choral-music-infographicinternational-reach-infographic

John Terauds

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