Repertoire and Recordings
The Elora Festival Singers is known for its eclectic approach to choral music. While the majority of its recordings and concert music comprise traditional repertoire (Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Haydn, Purcell, and Vaughn Williams), it has recorded several albums featuring the music of contemporary composer Arvo Pärt and two albums of folk music. It has commissioned new compositions from such Canadian composers as John Beckwith, Glenn Buhr, Leonard Enns, Srul Irving Glick, Gary Kulesha, Imant Raminsh, Eric Robertson, and Timothy Sullivan.
The Elora Festival Singers has recorded more than 20 albums with the Naxos label, including The Mystery of Christmas (1997), which received a Juno Award nomination for Best Classical Album: Vocal or Choral Performance, and I Saw Eternity (2012), which earned a Juno nomination for Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral. Eric Whitacre: Choral Music (2010) was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance and received rave reviews, with the choir being praised by the Classical Review for its “fluent, smoothly blended sound, well suited to Whitacre’s expansive phrases and shimmering harmonies.”
Concerts and Touring
The choir presents approximately eight concerts during the Elora Festival, in addition to its own series of eight to ten concerts held between October and May at Elora’s St. John’s Church, or, for larger-scale works, at the Church of Our Lady. It has collaborated with a number of ensembles, including the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the David Warrack Jazz Ensemble (for a performance of Dave Brubeck’s jazz oratorio Light in the Wilderness: An Oratorio for Today). The choir’s 25th anniversary season (2004–05) opened with an ambitious performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Poulenc’s Gloria with the Elora Festival Orchestra.
The Elora Festival Singers has toured throughout North America and Europe. The first tour, in 1991, covered Ontario, eastern Canada and northern New York, and included the choir’s New York City debut. In addition, the choir has made appearances at such prestigious venues as the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Der Musikverein in Vienna.
Administration and Funding
Since 2005, the Elora Festival and the Elora Festival Singers have been administered as one body. In addition to regular support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, in 2001 the choir was awarded a three-year Trillium Foundation grant for its “Singers in School” youth workshop and concert series.
Sexual Misconduct Allegations
In March 2018, amid the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, Noel Edison was placed on a “personal leave of absence” from his roles with both the Elora Festival Singers and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir after several allegations of sexual misconduct were brought to the attention of the boards of both organizations. A third-party group was hired to investigate the allegations against Edison, which CBC News reported “were brought forth by a number of male complainants and are said to have occurred over a number of years.” Following the investigation into the allegations, Edison was fired from his roles with the Elora Festival and the Elora Festival Singers on 21 April 2018. He resigned from his position with the Mendelssohn Choir on 25 April.
- A Celebration of Song. 1995. (Independent label)
- The Mystery of Christmas. 1998. Naxos 8554179
- Gabriel's Message - One Thousand Years of Carols. 1999. Naxos 8554723
- Vaughan Williams. Mass in G minor/ Motets. 2001. Naxos 8554826
- Pärt. Berliner Messe/ Magnificat/ Summa. 2004. Naxos 8557299
- Willan. In the Heavenly Kingdom. 2006. Naxos 8557734
- Pärt. Music for Unaccompanied Choir. 2006. Naxos 8570239
- Lauridsen. Choral Works. 2007. Naxos 8559304
- Whitacre. Choral Music. 2010. Naxos 8559667
- Wachner. Complete Choral Music Vol.1. 2010. Naxos 8559607
- I Saw Eternity. 2012. Naxos 8572812
- Patrick Hawes. Revelation. 2017. Naxos 8573720