As an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre and hailed by the CMC as “the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer”, Lydia Adams has dedicated her career to the growth of Canadian choral music. She is Artistic Director the Elmer Iseler Singers, national leaders in commissioning, premièring, performing and recording Canadian choral works. In the fall of 2016, Lydia was appointed director of the Western University Singers.
A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Ms. Adams received her musical education at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick; the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, London, England. She has conducted choral works of Canadian composers including Somers, Freedman, Applebaum, Watson Henderson, Hatzis, Daley and Togni. She has toured extensively and guest conducted throughout Canada and the United States, and recently conducted a tour of the world’s first Cree opera, Pimooteewin: The Journey, by Tomson Highway and Melissa Hui. An innovative programmer, Ms. Adams has included over 50 new commissions in the past 13 years. Her own compositions are performed worldwide.
Ms. Adams has been honoured by the City of Scarborough, the Women’s International Network, and the Ontario Choral Federation. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Mount Allison University for her service to music in Canada. She is one of 74 featured stage artists in V. Tony Hauser’s national Stage Presence 2009 portrait exhibition and publication.
In June 2012, Ms. Adams was announced as the winner of the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition, part of The 2012 Toronto Arts Foundation Arts Awards.
In June 2013 Lydia Adams won the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in the Artist category, with the following citation: “As the conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto for 30 years and of Canada’s Elmer Iseler Singers for 15 years, Lydia Adams has consistently promoted and programmed music by 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.”
Ms. Adams was a co-recipient of the Parks Canada CEO Award for Excellence (2016) for her collaboration on the music drama presentation The Bells of Baddeck (Lorna MacDonald, Dean Burry) and was honoured to have been appointed as Visiting Associate Professor in choral studies at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University in 2016.
In Spring 2018, Lydia Adams received the honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Cape Breton University for her dedication “to the preservation and evolution of musical culture.“
2023 marks the 25th Anniversary of Lydia Adams’ extraordinary achievements as Conductor and Artistic Director of the Elmer Iseler Singers.
On June 30th, 2023 Lydia Adams was awarded the Order of Canada for her distinguished contributions to arts and culture in Canada.