The Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir Present J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

TORONTO (November 7, 2017) – Artistic Director and Conductor Lydia Adams, together with the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, present the first three cantatas of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in German, on Friday, December 1, 2017, 8:00 pm at Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen St. E., Toronto).  Tickets: $55/ $50/ $20, available by calling (416) 446-0188 or (416) 217-0537.

Ms. Adams’ has chosen a cast of exceptional and accomplished young Canadian soloists for this concert.  Anchored by the brilliant soprano Monica Whicher, soloists include mezzo-soprano Marjorie Maltais, tenor Christopher Mayell and baritone Dion Mazerolle.  For background information on each of the soloists, please see below.

In addition, the concert orchestra will be led by a former winner of the Amadeus Choir’s annual Songwriting Competition.  Concertmaster Aaron Schwebel was just ten years old when he won the competition.  He is now the Concertmaster of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and Associate Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

BIOGRAPHIES

Lydia Adams, one of Canada’s most distinguished conductors, has been Conductor and Artistic Director of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto since 1984 and of the Elmer Iseler Singers since 1998. Under her direction, both choirs have become leading choral forces in Canada, commissioning, premiering, performing and recording Canadian choral works. Lydia is also an arranger of choral music and has composed choral works which are performed worldwide. Lydia is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Choral Studies at Western University in London.

As a conductor, Lydia Adams has recorded a number of award-winning compact discs with her Toronto choirs and has toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States. Hailed by the Canadian Music Centre as “the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer,” Lydia was named one of the CMC’s 50 ambassadors in 2009, honoured for her outstanding contributions to Canadian music, and in 2013 she received the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Lydia possesses extraordinary musicianship and a true passion for the choral art form. Her expertise, unique approach and dedication make her a vibrant and inspiring musical force.

The Elmer Iseler Singers (EIS), led by artistic director and conductor Lydia Adams, is in its 39th Anniversary Season in 2017/18. The 20-voice fully professional choral ensemble, founded by the late Dr. Elmer Iseler in 1979, has built an enviable reputation throughout Canada the United States and internationally through concerts, broadcasts and recordings – performing repertoire that spans 500 years, with a focus on Canadian composers.

The EIS present a five-concert series in Toronto each season, and are featured at concerts, workshops, and festivals throughout Canada. Touring is also a major component of EIS activities, with two multi-city tours in the 2016/2017 season – one to Western Canada and one to Atlantic Canada.  Each season, EIS sponsors choral workshops through their GET MUSIC! Educational Outreach Initiative for secondary school conductors and choirs, concluding with a joint public performance. The Elmer Iseler Singers are a 2014 National Choral Award recipient and a 2017 Juno Nominee for the “Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance” category. www.elmeriselersingers.com

Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto – Enlivening Toronto’s arts community for 42 years, the award-winning Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto is a semi-professional mid-sized choir of auditioned voices from all parts of the GTA and surrounding areas. Led by artistic director and conductor Lydia Adams since 1984, the choir champions the best of choral music and premieres works of Canadian and international composers through a self-produced Toronto concert series, guest performances, and special events. Known well beyond Toronto through tours, festivals, recordings, and national and international radio broadcasts, the choir partners and collaborates with many professional performing arts organizations in the GTA.

In addition to its choral workshops for conductors and students, the Amadeus Choir engages in educational and community outreach by commissioning works from established and up-and-coming Canadian composers.

The Amadeus Choir has received numerous awards throughout its history, most recently when it travelled to Nova Scotia as the keynote choir at Podium 2014, the Association of Canadian Choral Communities’ (ACCC) biennial conference. There the choir was awarded the ACCC Outstanding Innovation Award 2014 for Music of the Spheres, a multi-media collaboration with the Elmer Iseler Singers, The Ontario Science Centre and The Roberta Bondar Foundation and directed by conductor Lydia Adams.  www.amadeuschoir.com

 

Soloists:

Monica Whicher, soprano – Style and musical elegance combined with an intuitive theatrical sense are the hallmarks of soprano Monica Whicher’s performances on the concert and opera stage. Extravagantly praised for repertoire ranging from the title role in Thais to the most intimate masterpieces of German Lieder, the Ontario native continues to captivate listeners from Lameque to Vancouver. Recent destinations include the Festival International de Musique Baroque de Lamèque, Edmonton’s Richard Eaton Singers, Vancouver’s Music in the Morning series, and Toronto’s Amadeus Choir.

Her latest recording with harpist Judy Loman was released to great acclaim and she is also prominently featured in the release of the continuing Ukrainian Artsong Project. She has also been heard in Brahms’ Requiem with Symphony Nova Scotia, Messiah with Vancouver Chamber Choir, Weihnachtsoratorium for Toronto Bach Consort, Anna in Street Scene for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert and Wolf’s Italianisches Liederbuch for the University of Toronto`s Faculty of Music Artist Series. For Early Music Vancouver, she appeared in the title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Aeneas and Dido by Rolfe in Ottawa and Vancouver and for the Ottawa Choral Society in Elijah.

Marjorie Maltais, mezzo-soprano – Marjorie Maltais completed her Master of Music in Literature and Performance at University of Western Ontario, and gained attention as a Finalist at the Canadian Opera Company’s 2015 Centre Stage Competition for her dynamic stage presence and “fireworks of her remarkable coloratura”.

A native of Clermont, Quebec, Marjorie is the First Prize Winner of Ottawa Choral Society’s New Discoveries auditions in 2016. In 2017, Marjorie won the Lyndon Woodside Encouragement Award at the New York Oratorio Society’s Solo Competition.

Recent performances include Bach’s B minor Mass with Chorus Niagara, Elijah with Pax Christi Chorale, St. Matthew Passion with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings, Messiah with Montreal’s McGill Chamber Orchestra and the role of Costanza in Haydn’s L’Isola disabitata with Toronto’s Opera in Concert and Aradia Ensemble. In 2016, Marjorie was a featured soloist with Chamberfest Cleveland, performing works by Britten, Korngold and Wagner as well as Messiah with Boise Philharmonic.

In 2016, Marjorie received the Ruby Mercer Scholarship for IRCPA’s Encounter with Sondra Radvanovsky, winning a Career Blueprint at the National Opera Center in New York. She looks forward to her upcoming debuts this season with Kitchener-Waterloo’s Grand Philharmonic Choir, Montreal’s Orchestre Metropolitain, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Elmer Iseler Singers / Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto’s presentation of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

Christopher Mayell, tenor — Praised for his “sweetly rendered, fluid and pliable tenor voice”, Christopher Mayell is quickly making his mark as a rising star in Canada’s opera houses and concert halls. Christopher maintains a hearty schedule of engagements across the country, including performances of Verdi’s Falstaff with Calgary Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne with Toronto Operetta Theatre, and Puccini’s Turandot with Manitoba Opera.

A champion of new Canadian works, Christopher has been a key creator in ArrayMusic’s production of How it Storms (an opera with Gamelan ensemble), Fallujah with City Opera Vancouver, The Lives of Lesser Things with Opera Nuova. He has worked closely with Toronto’s Tapestry Opera in their development of new works, including Get Stuffed! and Oksana G. Recently, he collaborated with Toronto’s Continuum New Music, performing a world-premiere performance of Frederick’s Doctor, a narrative for tenor and instrumental ensemble.

Christopher is a proud alumnus of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist Ensemble program. Between singing engagements, he co-hosts a podcast, ‘Overthought‘, in which he and fellow tenor Isaiah Bell discuss the aspects – challenging and victorious – of a classical singer’s life.

 

Dion Mazerolle, baritone – Acadian baritone Dion Mazerolle has received critical acclaim for his “fine, resonant voice, an iron fist in a velvet glove” as Lord Cecil in Britten’s Gloriana and his “great wit and charm” in the title role of Salieri’s Falstaff with Toronto’s Voicebox: Opera in Concert.

Dion made his debut with the Canadian Opera Company as F.X. Lemieux in their acclaimed 2017 production of Louis Riel, with further performances in this role at the National Arts Centre and Opera de Quebec. Dion starred as Ramos in the world premiere of The Trials of Patricia Isasa with Montreal’s acclaimed contemporary opera company Chants Libres, and sang The Mandarin in Edmonton Opera’s Turandot. This season, Dion is the Mayor in Jenufa, directed by Atom Egoyan with Pacific Opera Victoria and returns to Edmonton Opera as Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore.

Oratorio performances include Bach’s Easter Oratorio with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice, Messiah with Menno Singers, and in 2018 Dion debuts with the Grand Philharmonic Choir/Kitchener Waterloo Symphony in Bach’s St. John Passion.  He is pleased to debut in the Elmer Iseler Singers / Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto’s presentation of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.