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THE SCOOP | Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Wants A Fresh Start And A New Connection

By Michael Vincent on September 16, 2021


In 2018, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was hit with the abrupt resignation of their renowned conductor, mired in controversy. Two years later, they, along with the entire world, indefinitely shut down amid a pandemic that made singing a health hazard.

In what would have shaken the best of us, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir stayed the course with spirit. They found a fitting Artistic Director in Quebec’s Jean-Sébastien Vallée. Last week, they hired a new Collaborative Pianist.

Today, they announce a post-pandemic season that sees Canada’s premiere choir rise from hard times with a fresh start — a season tailored for a choir with a renewed sense of home and belonging.


“After the challenges we all faced in the past 18 months, we are thrilled to be joining our voices together again — not despite these challenges, but rather to express them in meaningful ways,” says Artistic Director Jean Sébastien Vallée.

Besides reconnecting with TMC audiences, there is also a surprise new commission for composer Barbara Assiginaak.

“I am so honoured to be invited to work with the Tkaronto Mendelssohn Choir and to seek a way to honour my ancestors and family who did not always have a voice, or else had no one who would listen to them,” says Assiginaak. “It is a huge responsibility I have carried as the child of a residential school survivor, through decades of working through the medium of so-called classical music and finding a way to respect that tradition while also honouring Anishinaabeg traditions and language. Chi miigwetch.”

Season highlights

Coming to Carry Me Home — November 2, 2021

  • What: The Chariot Jubilee by Nathaniel Dett and Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms
  • Who: Jonelle Sills (soprano) and Brett Polegato (baritone) with Chamber Orchestra from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Festival of Carols — December 1, 2021

  • What: Lauda per la Nativitá del Signore by Ottorino Respighi. Music and carol selections by Andrew Balfour, Sally Beamish, Rosephanye Powell, Hyo-Won Woo and many others.
  • Who: Jean-Sebastien Vallee and Simon Rivard conduct the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space – April 13 and 15, 2022

  • What: All-Night Vigil by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Selected works by Nathaniel Dett
  • Who: Simon Rivard and Brainerd Blyden-Taylor conduct the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir

Endangered – May 28, 2022

  • What: Creation by Barbara Assiginaak — a TMC commission and Mass for the Endangered by Sarah Kirkland Snider (Canadian premiere)
  • Who: Jean-Sébastien Vallée and Simon Rivard conduct the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Chamber Orchestra, and Soloists


All season events will be streamed worldwide. For those fully-vaccinated, you can buy limited in-person tickets.

Concerts will take place at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (Yonge and St. Clair).

Online event tickets will be available on October 1, 2021, and later in the month for in-person tickets.

Full season details [HERE].


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Michael Vincent
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