Patricia Wright, the longtime music director at Metropolitan United Church, next door to St Michael’s Hospital on Queen St. E., has organised an eclectic and intriguing concert on Saturday evening to raise money to repair the church’s massive, old instrument.
When the Ohio city’s exuberant Art Deco train station was handed a new life by preservationists as the Cincinnati Museum Center, the building also received a massive, new pipe organ, cobbled together from two instruments built in the 1920s by E.M. Skinner, the United States’ equivalent of Canada’s top builder, Casavant Frères.
Latry, the titular organist at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris told Radio-Canada reporter Francine Plourde that, “I was really very impressed with what Casavant has realised with this instrument, which is a pipe organ with a wide dynamic range.”
To be fair, the overall vision of this improbable-in-21st-century-Toronto project belongs to the cathedral’s spiritual head, it’s dean, the Very Reverend Douglas Stoute, and the congregation’s secular masters, its wardens.
Here is a fantastic programme of choral music for Advent, the church’s solemn four weeks of introspection leading up to Christmas Eve. The college’s music master Benjamin Nicholas and veteran choral conductor Peter Phillips have assembled many new or newer works and arrangements that showcase the Merton College ensemble’s newfound status on a campus with hundreds of years of history wafting from every nook and archway.
Their founder and leader, Matthew Larkin, guided the youthful women and men through a survey of the choral music of Benjamin Britten, in honour of the 100th anniversary of his birth, which fell on Friday.
It’s been fascinating to listen to the King’s College recording both before and after hearing the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir perform the cantata Saint Nicolas at Tuesday’s dress rehearsal. My conclusion: Our Toronto forces, including the wonderful Toronto Children’s Chorus, are every bit as good as the British singers considered to be one of the world’s choral standards.
Tuesday night’s dress rehearsal at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church revealed not only a compelling, deeply affecting programme, but wonderful performances from the Mendelssohn Choir, the Toronto Children’s Chorus, orchestra, pianists, organist and, last but far from least, soloists tenor Colin Ainsworth and soprano Leslie Bouza.