Montreal Bach Choir/Chorale de Bach de Montréal

The Montreal Bach Choir/La Chorale de Bach de Montréal. A 35-voice ensemble founded in 1951 in Montreal by George Little to present both unaccompanied and accompanied choral music. The choir offered two Bach works annually, including in various years the St Matthew Passion, St John Passion, Christmas Oratorio, and Mass in B Minor, but also presented the music of other composers from the Renaissance to the 20th century, on radio, TV, and in concert.

The Montreal Bach Choir's first concert, Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Cantata No. 5, was held at the Ermitage 19 Dec 1951. Subsequent concerts were held regularly at Redpath Hall and Erskine and American United Church with such permanent or associate members as Patricia Creighton, Marcelle Dumontet, Maureen Forrester, Claire Grenon-Masella, René Lacourse, Claude Létourneau, and Jan Simons performing as soloists. Other guest singers included Pierrette Alarie, Marguerite Lavergne, Robert Savoie, and Léopold Simoneau.

In 1958 the choir toured four European countries, broadcasting for the BBC and Swiss and French radios and performing with the Hart House Orchestra at the Brussels World's Fair and with the Orchestre national at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. It was the first Canadian choir to perform at the Edinburgh Festival (1958). The choir toured western Canada (1959, 1961) and Japan (1961), performed with the New York City Ballet and the Montreal Consort of Ancient Instruments, and appeared in the film Music from Montreal (National Film Board 1962). The choir's last performance before disbanding was of Bach's St John Passion, 6 Apr 1966 at the Salle Claude-Champagne.

The Montreal Bach Choir included in its repertoire works by François Brassard, Gabriel Charpentier, Jean Coulthard, Robert Fleming, and Michel Perrault and premiered Violet Archer'sProud Horses (1953) and Apocalypse (19 Jan 1959), Jean Papineau-Couture'sPsaume CL (1955), Pierre Mercure'sCantate pour une joie (1956), Kelsey Jones's Songs of Time (27 Feb 1957) and Prophecy of Micah (5 Feb 1964), Robert Turner'sMobile ( commissioned, 9 Mar 1962), and John Beckwith'sThe Trumpets of Summer (29 Nov 1964).

Among the choir's presidents were Huntley Cameron (1954-63) and Leslie Hughes (1964).