Sunday March 12 2023, 4:00 PM
Elmer Iseler Singers
piano / organ
The JUNO Award winning Elmer Iseler Singers (EIS), conducted by artistic director Lydia Adams since 1998, is singing its 44th Concert Season in 2022/23. Musique Royale is honored to welcome the choir back to Nova Scotia for a performance in historic St John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg on Sunday March 12 at 4 pm. Founded in 1979 by Dr. Elmer Iseler, the 20-voice professional chamber choir has received invitations to collaborate with many major musical organizations, including Esprit Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Gryphon Trio, and the Canadian Brass. The EIS has also received honours, including recently a 2018 JUNO Award and GRAMMY nomination for the Chandos recording of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, featuring the Toronto Symphony under the baton of Peter Oundjian. Their concert on March 12 “A Choral Celebration” features glorious choral music across the spectrums of time, space and culture.
About the Artists
Elmer Iseler Singers
The JUNO Award winning Elmer Iseler Singers (EIS), conducted by artistic director Lydia Adams since 1998, is singing its 44th Concert Season in 2022/23. Founded in 1979 by Dr. Elmer Iseler, the 20-voice professional chamber choir is honoured to receive invitations to collaborate with many major musical organizations, including Esprit Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Gryphon Trio, and the Canadian Brass. The EIS has also received a number of honours, most recently a 2018 JUNO Award and GRAMMY nomination for the Chandos recording of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, featuring the Toronto Symphony under the baton of Peter Oundjian.
The Elmer Iseler Singers is dedicated to performing the works of Canadian composers in Toronto and on its many tours across the country, on many CDS and in its concerts and workshops with community singers, emerging artists, composers and conductors. In 2020, the choir initiated an Educational Mentorship Program with the VIVA Singers Toronto as Associate Choirs, to share skills and to provide mentorship in performance artistry, vocal music education, inclusion, and leadership. The EIS ensemble also recently performed the world premiere and concert tour of Timothy Corlis’ meditational work, Om Saha Nãvavatu, inspired by Vedic texts and the poetry of Hindu and Buddhist spiritual masters. Spring programming will include three world premieres of works by emerging and established Canadian composers, and we look forward with great anticipation to a busy summer of concerts at major Music Festivals throughout Ontario.
The Singers have been honoured to work with Indigenous creators in the premiere performance and multiple tours of the first opera in the Cree language, Pimooteewin: The Journey, with music by composer Mellisa Hui and text by Tomson Highway; and with Richard van Camp and Elder Rosie Mantla of the Tlicho people of the NWT. Today, we sing grandmother moon, with music by Eleanor Daley, and the stunning text by Mary Louise Martin, from Millbrook Mi’kmaq First Nation, NS. Thank you, Mary Louise, for your beautiful words.
Lydia Adams – conductor
An accomplished conductor, composer, arranger and pianist, Lydia Adams is now in her 24th season as Artistic Director of the Elmer Iseler Singers, a professional chamber choir and a national leader in commissioning, premièring, performing and recording Canadian choral works. For 35 years, she was also the Artistic Director of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, building it from a small community choir into a nationally recognized choral organization with an outstanding reputation for innovation, commissions and performances of established and contemporary works.
Born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Ms. Adams’ early and lifelong musical influence was her mother, Florence Adams. She studied piano with Marguerite MacDougall before receiving further musical education at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, and at the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio in London, England.
Honoured as an Ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre, Ms. Adams has been described as “the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer.” An innovative programmer and champion of Canadian choral composers, Ms. Adams has conducted the premières of hundreds of choral works, including the world’s first Cree opera, Pimooteewin: The Journey, by Tomson Highway and Melissa Hui; Music of the Land, by Kathleen Allan, featuring the Ullugiagatsuk Children’s Choir and dancers and throat singers from Northern Labrador; Om Saha Nãvavatu, a meditational work on Vedic Mantras by Timothy Corlis and Nur: Reflections on Light by Hussein Janmohamed, based on Islamic chant. In addition, Ms. Adams has recorded 18 CDs with her choirs. Her own compositions and many arrangements, including Leon Dubinsky’s We Rise Again and Allister MacGillivray’s Here’s to Song, are regularly performed and enjoyed worldwide.
Ms. Adams has received numerous accolades for her contributions to Canadian music, including citations from the City of Scarborough, the Women’s International Network, and the Ontario Choral Federation. She has been awarded Honorary Degrees by Mount Allison University (Doctor of Music, 2003, for excellence in the Arts) and by Cape Breton University (Doctor of Letters, 2018, for her dedication “to the presentation and evolution of musical culture”). Her work has been celebrated by the Toronto Arts Foundation, as recipient of the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition in 2012, and by the Ontario Arts Council with the 2013 Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, for promoting and programming the music of “both time-honoured and contemporary Canadian composers, while at the same time promoting young Canadian artists, many of whom have gone on to establish a career in singing.”
Her work has been recognized through Canada’s national choral organization, Choral Canada with awards including Outstanding Choral CD (2002); Outstanding Choral Event (2012); Outstanding Innovative Choral Performance (2014) and the Distinguished Service Award in 2018. In 2016, Ms. Adams was a co-recipient of the Parks Canada CEO Award for Excellence for her collaboration on the music drama, The Bells of Baddeck by Lorna MacDonald and Dean Burry, presented at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Cape Breton. That year, she was also honoured to be appointed Visiting Associate Professor in Choral Studies at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University, and Director of the Western University Singers.
Through initiatives such as the Elmer Iseler Singers’ and Amadeus Choir’s educational outreach programs, Ms. Adams is well known for giving back to the choral community by providing conducting and composer development clinics, community choir development workshops and as a member of many Juries. She has conducted several provincial youth choirs and the National Youth Choir of Canada.
Shawn Grenke – piano/organ
Conductor, Pianist and Organist Shawn Grenke is Director of Music at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto, Collaborative Pianist to the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto, and Artistic Director and Conductor of the 80-voice Achill Choral Society in Orangeville, Ontario.
Shawn began his musical training as a chorister and pianist with the Hastings County Board of Education Concert Choir under the Direction of Rudolf Heijdens in his hometown of Belleville, Ontario.
He was awarded the Bachelor of Music degree from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick), and the Master of Music degree from the University of Toronto. Shawn has appeared in concerts in Poland and South Korea, at the ‘Let the Future Sing’ Choral Festival in Sweden and the ‘Xinghai Choral Competition’ in China, as well as the ‘Le Mondial Choral Loto-Québec World Choral Competition’ in Laval, Québec, Roy Thomson Hall (Toronto), Winspear Centre, (Edmonton), CBC Radio, and other festivals, concert series and recitals throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.
Shawn is currently in his second year of the Doctor of Music Degree Program in Choral Conducting at the University of Alberta, where he studies with Dr. Timothy Shantz. This year, Shawn was very honoured to be awarded the Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship Award, the Opera Edmonton Assistantship Award and the Centennial Bursary Fund Award. While in Alberta, Shawn has also been the artist in residence at St. George’s Anglican Church and has held a teaching assistant position with the University of Alberta’s Opera Program under the direction of Shannon Hiebert.
The Elmer Iseler Singers wish to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for its support towards this Atlantic Canada Tour, March 10 to 19, 2023.