THE SCOOP | Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Announces 2022/23 Artistic Team

By Anya Wassenberg on July 7, 2022

L-R: Dr. Shireen Abu-Khadar, Composer in Residence, & Dr. Jamie Hillman, Director of Community Engagement & Associate Conductor (Images courtesy TMC)
L-R: Dr. Shireen Abu-Khadar, Composer in Residence, & Dr. Jamie Hillman, Director of Community Engagement & Associate Conductor (Images courtesy TMC)

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC) has announced the final additions to their 2022/23 artistic team, in preparation for the organization’s first full capacity in-person season since the pandemic began.

TMC’s very first Composer in Residence will be Dr. Shireen Abu-Khade — the very first in the choir’s 128-year history.

  • The Palestinian-Jordanian Canadian artist, composer, and educator holds a PhD in Music Education from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s in Choral Music from the University of Southern California;
  • Her work incorporates music from the Levant region of the world, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq;
  • She is the founder of Dozan World, with the goal of disseminating music of the Levant to the world through music publication.

“Shireen is an exceptional artist, composer and educator with whom I share the desire to bring people together through music and to democratize the choral art.” Artistic Director Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée says in a media release. “I look forward to collaborating with her on several projects to communicate powerful stories, showcase unheard voices, and bring communities together through the power of choral music.”

Dr. Jamie Hillman joins the TMChoir this season as Director of Community Engagement and Associate Conductor, another new position for the organization.

  • An active as a conductor, singer, pianist, music educator, and composer;
  • As a Boston University Prison Arts Scholar and faculty member of BU’s Prison Education Program, Hillman co-initiated an innovative vocal music program in the Massachusetts prison system.

Hillman’s appointment builds a strong link with the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music., where he was appointed the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting in 2021, and where he serves as Director of Choral Studies and an Associate Professor.

“Jamie’s passion and advocacy for the transformative power of choral music as well as his exceptional charisma on the podium is an exceptional addition to the TMChoir’s artistic team,” notes Vallée. “His extensive track record as a music educator and community leader — including his recent work to establish a vocal music program in the Massachusetts prison system —will allow us to truly serve Toronto’s various communities.”

Rena Roussin, the writer responsible for the program notes this past season, gains a new title of Musicologist in Residence. A Métis and settler woman with additional Haida ancestry, Roussin’s concerns revolve around the reconciliation of art music and Indigenous artists and communities in Canada. Roussin is also completing her PhD dissertation at the University of Toronto on constructions of disability and gender in Haydn’s late oratorios.

Staying where they are…

  • Simon Rivard, associate conductor for 21/22 stays on as Artistic Colalborator;
  • Dr. Irene Gregorio, Collaborative Pianist and Musical Assistant, holds her position.

Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, marks his second season with the choir with an impressive artistic team to move forward.

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