Lydia Adams with Jean Stilwell on 96.3FM

We are thrilled that Jean Stilwell spoke with Lydia Adams on 96.3 FM on Tuesday morning about the EIS upcoming concert presentation, Songs of Light, premiering on Sunday, May 29th at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Thank you to Jean and the team at 96.3 FM Radio for making this interview available to our supporters.

Please listen to the interview here, to hear Lydia and Jean talk about Songs of Light!

To receive your personal invitation to this special Elmer Iseler Singers online concert, please consider a donation towards the work of the choir by a gift online with PayPal Giving FundCanada Helps or calling the EIS office at 416-217-0537. Your donation gives you access to our event replay from May 29 to June 11, 2022.

*For other ways to donate visit the EIS donate page.

A 2022 donation tax receipt will be issue for the full amount of your donation.

 

Lydia Adams in conversation with Karen Burke

Lydia Adams talks with Karen Burke

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director Lydia Adams talks with Karen Burke, Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Mass Choir about their upcoming gospel workshops: PowerUp Gospel 2022: Embracing Change.

PowerUp Gospel 2022: Embracing Change

Online workshop weekends:

Weekend 1 – Thursday, February 17 – Saturday, February 19, 2022

Weekend 2 – Thursday, February 24 – Saturday, February 26, 2022

Registration link https://powerupgospel.ca/register

Clinicians include:

  • Dr. Raymond Wise – Special Guest Clinician from Columbus, Ohio
  • Belinda Monroe Gardner from Houston, Texas
  • Cassandra Powell from London, Ontario
  • Rob Greene from Belleville, Ontario
  • Natalie Stewart from Ajax Ontario

PowerUp Gospel Music workshops are supported by the York University Music Department

We Rise Again: Whitehorse Community Choir Spotlight

Whitehorse Community Choir

Cross Canada Virtual Choral Tour Spring 2021

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director, Lydia Adams shines the spotlight on Barbara Chamberlin, conductor, Whitehorse Community Choir

Barbara Chamberlin is artistic director and conductor of the Whitehorse Community Choir, a participant in the Elmer Iseler Singers’ Canadian choral mentorship initiative of hope and optimism, culminating in a virtual performance of ‘We Rise Again’, by Leon Dubinsky – coming June 20, 2021 at 4:00pm!

Lydia invites Barbara to share her choir’s recording and rehearsal experiences over the past year and her hopes and aspirations for the future.

“Even with masks, we were thrilled to sing together,
that’s what we do choirs for – to sing together.”

Barbara Chamberlin

Lydia Adams’ Interview with Barbara Chamberlin

Whitehorse Community Choir

Whitehorse Community Choir is a four-part non-auditioned choir that comes together for the enjoyment of singing quality choral works in Whitehorse venues and in Yukon communities. Over the past 20+ years, the choir has grown from 35 singers to over 100 members, spread across a mixed chorus and three select chamber choirs: (1) the Neptunes, an un-auditioned low voice choir consisting of basses and tenors, both male and female; (2) the Persephone Singers, an auditioned women ‘s choir; and (3) the Chamber Choir, an auditioned mixed voice choir, established in 2008. Since 2005, Barbara Chamberlin has been the choir director, ably managing all four singing groups. Cheryl Wishart and Barry Kitchen accompany the choirs on the piano and organ.

Barbara Chamberlin has been a singer, performer, and teacher for many years, both in Whitehorse and in the Pacific Northwest. She has appeared on CMT, Breakfast TV, Bravo, and toured internationally as a performer and songwriter. Barbara is continually learning the ins and outs of conducting, voice and the mysteries of music. She teaches voice and piano and is currently exploring blues & jazz for her next CD. She also runs the Ravensong B&B in the summer, in the lovely Yukon neighbourhood of Riverdale.

We Rise Again: Cape Breton Chorale Spotlight

Cape Breton Chorale

Cross Canada Virtual Choral Tour Spring 2021

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director, Lydia Adams shines the spotlight on Ryan Billington, conductor, Cape Breton Chorale

The Cape Breton Chorale are participants in the Elmer Iseler Singers’ Canadian choral mentorship initiative of hope and optimism, culminating in a virtual performance of ‘We Rise Again’, by Leon Dubinsky – coming this Spring!

Lydia and Ryan talk about the impact of singing music by Cape Breton composer Leon Dubinsky and the song’s relevance today.

“it’s going to be very emotional for [the choir]
and powerful for them … in bringing the message
of that song and its Cape Breton roots
to everybody across the country”

Ryan Billington

Lydia Adams’ Interview with Ryan Billington

Cape Breton Chorale

The internationally-acclaimed Cape Breton Chorale has been thrilling audiences at home in Canada and around the world since its formation in 1973. The 50-plus voice mixed adult group has played an important role in the cultural life of Cape Breton. The Chorale has performed in the Maritimes, Scotland, Ireland, England & Wales. They have shared the stage with musical stars including Celine Dion and Rita MacNeil, and performed before numerous visiting dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II. The Chorale has also made numerous appearances at the renowned Celtic Colours International Festival which takes place all over Cape Breton Island in early October. 

Ryan Billington has been serving as Artistic Director and Conductor for the Cape Breton Chorale since 2017. He is also an Associate Professor in the music department at St. Francis Xavier University where he teaches voice, vocal jazz ensemble, and other courses. In 2011, his student vocal ensemble EXTRA from StFX was featured nationally on CBC Radio 2 Choral Concert with host Peter Togni. Prior to his appointment at StFX, Ryan performed as a professional choral singer in Toronto with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and other choral ensembles. In more recent years, Ryan has performed across Atlantic Canada in jazz, oratorio, musical theatre and choral settings.

We Rise Again: Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus Spotlight

Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus

Cross Canada Virtual Choral Tour Spring 2021

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director, Lydia Adams shines the spotlight on Maria Fuller, conductor, Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus

Maria Fuller is conductor of the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus, a participant in the Elmer Iseler Singers’ Canadian choral mentorship initiative of hope and optimism, culminating in a virtual performance of ‘We Rise Again’, by Leon Dubinsky – coming this Spring!

Lydia and Maria talk about the challenges of conducting using Zoom and the experience of joining with choirs across Canada in singing ‘We Rise Again’.

“the We Rise Again [project] … has given us a chance to enter into a broader and more national world in which to collaborate with others and to get to know others.”

Maria Fuller

Lydia Adams’ Interview with Maria Fuller

Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus

As an integral part of the Thunder Bay Symphony Organization, the Symphony Chorus was started in 1974 by Maestro Dwight Bennett to enable the presentation of some of the great choral repertoire along with major orchestral works. In addition to classical, opera, pops and holiday music, the Chorus has also enjoyed singing performances with students from the Lakehead University Vocal Ensemble, and last season they were delighted to join with the Elmer Iseler Singers in a performance of Hadyn’s Creation conducted by Lydia Adams.

Choristers are volunteers from the community and come with a range of musical backgrounds and experiences. The core that binds them is their love of singing and the willingness to work diligently to learn and perform the repertoire. Their musical leadership comes from the Music Director of the TBSO, Maestro Paul Haas, and the Resident Conductor, Maria Fuller.

Maria Fuller is the current Music Director of the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus. A rising star in the international conducting scene, Maria is also a performer, pianist and trumpeter, and is also an acclaimed vocal coach, composer and arranger. Equally adept in the opera pit and on the concert stage, she shows a winning charisma and infectious joy in her music-making. 

We Rise Again: Agincourt Madrigal Singers Spotlight

Agincourt Madrigal Singers with Lydia Adams

Cross Canada Virtual Choral Tour Spring 2021

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director, Lydia Adams shines the spotlight on James Pinhorn, conductor, Agincourt Madrigal Singers

Today, we shine the spotlight on James Pinhorn, conductor of the Agincourt Madrigal Singers, a participant in the Elmer Iseler Singers’ Canadian choral mentorship initiative of hope and optimism, culminating in a virtual performance of ‘We Rise Again’, by Leon Dubinsky – coming this Spring!

Lydia and James talk about overcoming challenges facing young singers in virtual learning, and the positive relationships and life skills gained from singing together in a choir.

“I think I teach Life through the medium of music”

James Pinhorn

Click Below to watch Lydia Adams’ Interview with James Pinhorn

Agincourt Madrigal Singers

The Agincourt Madrigal Singers is Agincourt Collegiate Institute’s only auditioned choral ensemble. This choir includes 27 grade 11 and 12 students, who are dedicated to developing their choral art in a chamber music setting. This year, the students meet online once a week to learn a choral repertoire which they describe as both challenging and rewarding to sing. 

James Pinhorn conducts the Agincourt Madrigal Singers along with a number of Agincourt C.I. high school ensembles through his role as Assistant Curriculum Leader in Music. In late 2018, the Elmer Iseler Singers held workshops for all of the James’ award winning choral ensembles culminating in a concert featuring EIS and the students singing together under the baton of Lydia Adams. James has twice shared his choral expertise at the Ontario Music Educators Association annual conference, speaking on the state of music education in our schools and on training young male voices, and for fifteen seasons he conducted the massed choir at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre. Along with conducting and educating, James is a composer and performer, recording over 50 original songs from his home studio.

“conductors get into choral music because
we love the music … youth, particularly,
get into choir for their community”

James Pinhorn
Carmine Lappano
Carmine Lappano
Composer for Give us the Wings of Faith

Carmine Lappano was born in 1977 and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Working primarily as a liturgical musician, Carmine is well respected as a Composer/ Conductor/ Organist, having held appointments in several churches throughout the last 18 years. Carmine has extensive choral experience, having sung with several professional choirs including the Elmer Iseler Singers. Carmine has had the privilege of working with prominent Canadian choral musicians such as Lydia Adams, Eleanor Daley, Jerzy Chichocki and Matthew Larin. A member of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Carmine holds a professional diploma in Choral Conducting (Ch. RCCO). He has written several pieces of sacred choral music for liturgical use, and continues to create music for church choirs of any level. More recently, Carmine’s composition “Arise, Arise”, won first prize in the Chronos Vocal Ensemble Choral Composition Competition, and was premiered in November of 2023.

Matthew Boutda
Matthew Boutda

Matthew Boutda (he/him) is a Lao-Canadian conductor, tenor, and organist pursuing his Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting at McGill University, Schulich School of Music.

Matthew is the Principal Conductor of the McGill Concert Choir in Montréal, QC, and is also the Director of Music at Leaside United Church in Toronto, ON. He also serves as an ambassador for the Centre for Congregational Song, member of the executive committee of the Hymn Society in Canada and the United States, and Community Director for the Summer Institute of Church Music.

As a conductor, he has had the opportunity to work with choirs such as the Ontario Youth Choir, Pax Christi Chorale, Schulich Singers, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the Western University Singers.

Matthew holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Western Ontario, a Bachelor of Music, and a Master of Sacred Music from the University of Toronto, and an ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Matthew is a recent recipient of the Clifford Evens Graduate Conducting Award, Gerald Wheeler Award, Helen Hall Prize, and Wayne Riddell Choral Award.

Norman E. Brown
Norman E. Brown

For the past 5 years bass-baritone Norman E. Brown has split his musical time between singing and conducting.  He has been conductor for many Ottawa-based choirs, including conducting pieces with the Ottawa Choral Society, Atlantic Voices and Musica Ebraica.  He has also been assistant conductor in Italy for the operas “Suor Angelica” and “Cosi fan tutte” with AEDO, and has conducted “Alcina” (Handel), “Suor Angelica” (Puccini), “Magic Flute” (Mozart) and two world premieres by Jack Hui Litster - “What is Love?” (2022) and “Gates of Heaven: Requiem for a Life of Peace” (2024) with OperOttawa. 

In the 2023-24 season, Norman was the recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts grant in conducting which enabled him to be mentored by Leslie Dala (Vancouver Opera and Vancouver Bach Choir), and shadow conductors Alexander Weimann (Messiah - Vancouver Early Music), Tania Miller (Magic Flute), Jacques Lacombe (Don Pasquale), and more recently with Simon Rivard (Orchestre Classique de Montreal).  Norman will be participating in the Conducting Workshop in June with Robert Franz and the Boise Baroque Orchestra. 

Michael Colla
Michael Colla

Michael is a vocalist and a music educator based in Toronto, who advocates and encourages the role of community in music. Michael is a graduate of St. Michael’s Choir School, York University (B.F.A. Vocal music), and Wilfrid Laurier University (B.Ed). He currently works as a Music Teacher in the Toronto Catholic District School Board and as a choir conductor for the Community Music Schools of Toronto. He served as an interim conductor for St. Paschal Baylon’s R.C Church choir and Coro San Marco and has been a guest conductor for “Singing Together”- a multicultural choral festival. Michael’s passion for music education and community music is a driving force in his development as an educator, conductor, musician, and lifelong learner.

Nataprawira Edmee
Edmee Nataprawira

Edmee Nataprawira is a music educator and multi-instrumentalist based in Toronto, Ontario. An advocate for music as a catalyst for community, creativity, and connection, Edmee enjoys collaborating with fellow artists in Toronto and Montreal. In addition to playing cello and piano, Edmee is an avid choral singer and taiko drumming enthusiast. She currently teaches music at St. Clement's School and VIVA Singers Toronto through song, movement, play, and composition. 

A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT, piano; Gr. 10, cello) and the University of Toronto (Hon. B.Mus. and B.Ed.), Edmee has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Lloyd Bradshaw Prize for choral conducting, the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award and a Klingenstein Summer Institute Fellowship at Columbia University for early-career teachers. She loves to explore how music can nurture relationships, create change, and speak to our sense of wonder. 

Nila Rajagopal
Nila Rajagopal

An accomplished conductor and dedicated educator, Nila Rajagopal is driven by her passion for uniting people through the power of choral music.

Nila’s outstanding expertise has led her to assume numerous roles within the choral landscape. She is currently the Conductor of the Toronto Children’s Chorus’ Anima training choir, Associate Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and Associate Conductor of Modern Sound Collective’s Sehnsucht choir. Her exceptional contributions have earned her esteemed accolades, including the Doreen Rao Choral Award, the Iwan Edwards Award, the Ken Fleet Choral Conducting Scholarship, and the Helen Hall Prize. Nila was also a nominee for the 2023 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting.

A keen lifelong learner, Nila holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from McGill University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Toronto. Nila’s dedication to the choral community also extends to her role as South Central Regional Chair on the Choirs Ontario Board of Directors.

Zoitsa (Zoë) Gotziaman
Zoitsa Gotziaman

Zoitsa is a mezzo-soprano and emerging conductor based in Toronto. This season she sang in a new octet led and conducted by Andrew Balfour, and in the chorus of Opera Atelier’s Orphée et Eurydice. She thoroughly loves performing, and has sung in over 30 operas. She currently sings in The Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Past ensemble highlights include singing with Canzona, Dead of Winter, Xara Choral Theatre, and being section lead at Toronto Chamber Choir and VOCA Chorus of Toronto. Her education includes a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Manitoba, under the tutelage of Tracy Dahl. Zoitsa conducts the Butterfly Chorus at the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and used to teach Intermediate and Senior Choirs at Sistema Toronto.

Steven Webb
Steven Webb
Composer for The Going Out

Originally from South Africa, Steven Webb is a Tkarón:to (Toronto)-based composer and sound designer, living as a settler on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and the Mississauga’s of the Credit. With his artistic works being filtered through the personal lens of his own battle with mental illness, Webb creates new music and video art from an eclectic mix of influences including retro science-fiction, horror, 1990s computer software and video game culture, obsolete consumer gear, and the orchestral cinematic tradition.

His current compositional work is concerned with examining the contemporary human experience, with the disorientation, confusion, and dread that arises from living in a world dealing with a climate crisis, growing conflict and marginalization towards minority groups, and the increasing isolation of the individual in spite of our hyper-connectivity. Webb creates art primarily by investing in communitybased music making, aligning his musical output and practices to create closer communities through public performances, sound installations and musical recordings.

Webb is a member of the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers, (SOCAN), as well as the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, and is an Associate Composer at the Canadian Music Centre.

Elienna Wang
Elienna Wang
Composer for Words Unspoken

Elienna is a Toronto-based composer studying with Professor Norbert Palej at the University of Toronto. Her music has been performed at the University of Toronto's Student Composers Concerts and New Music Festival, the Women's Art Association of Canada, the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Church, and retirement homes across the GTA. Most recently, her choral piece, "Wings," was premiered by the Spirit Singers Choir at the "Come In From the Cold" fundraising concert this March, and her art song, "Rosé Leaves" will be premiered at the SPO's "Prelude to Hope" concert this April. By sharing her musical voice, Elienna hopes to bring joy, hope, and belonging to her listeners.

Emily Hiemstra
Emily Hiemstra
Composer for Oudh

Emily Hiemstra is a real life viola mom. She is a violist, composer and mom to four boys under 6.

A JUNO-nominated composer, she has had her music performed at festivals throughout Europe, USA and Canada. Her orchestral and operatic background as a performer has deepened her understanding of colour and texture which she readily applies in her compositions to create clear and innovative works.

As a violist and dedicated chamber musician, she has performed at festivals around the world and is founder of the Charis Collective, a chamber ensemble creating family-friendly concerts in London, ON.

Gordon Burnett, Bass
Gordon Burnett
Bass

Gord Burnett maintains an active career as a singer, conductor and voice teacher. In addition to the Elmer Iseler Singers, his professional choral experience includes the Elora Festival Singers, Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, and 16 years with Tactus Vocal Ensemble, an octet dedicated to the performance of early music. Presently he conducts the Sanctuary and Handbell Choirs at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kitchener and the Guelph Male Choir. He maintains a successful private voice studio in Waterloo. In his spare time, he enjoys working through the Sunday New York Times crosswords.

Sharang Sharma, Tenor
Sharang Sharma
Tenor

Sharang Sharma is an emerging musician with interests in performance and historical musicology. His interpretation of repertoire from the Middle Ages to 1800 brings a refreshing take on little-performed music by less renowned composers. His most recent engagement as lay clerk at The Queen’s College, Oxford (UK), has set him up for a life in ecclesiastical music, which he pursues as Director, Chapel Music at Huron University College, London (Canada). He focused on monastic culture in medieval Italy as part of his recently completed masters in musicology at the University of Oxford.

Sharang has performed in professional and amateur choirs, such as The Strand Consort in London (UK), Fount & Origin in Oxford, Kammerchor and Chor Amica in London (Canada), and with theatre and opera companies, such as LINK in London (Canada), and Spectra Ensemble in London (UK). During his undergraduate degree, he participated in Western University’s choirs and opera productions and was an active member of London’s musical community. His range of experiences comprises recording with the BBC, performing with the Academy of Ancient Music and Instruments of Time and Truth, studying historical repertoire and performance with Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School and Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and appearing as guest chorister and soloist at many music festivals including the Huron County Bach Festival and the Sherborne Early Music Festival.

Sharang was the 43rd and 44th season James T. Chestnutt Scholar.

Michael Sawarna, Tenor
Michael Sawarna
Tenor

Michael began singing with the Elmer Iseler Singers in 2004. He is the second Iseler Singer to originate from Kemptville, Ontario a small town south of Ottawa. Now living in Toronto he is a Tenor Section Lead for the Amadeus Choir and St. Andrew’s United Church Choir. He is studying voice with Catherine Robbin at York University. In his spare time Michael hopes to become as good a hockey player as now-retired tenor Ed Wiens.

Mitchell Pady, Tenor
Mitchell Pady
Tenor

A Graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Mitchell Pady pursued his studies in composition and voice.  He has performed and participated in many festivals and conferences including the national conductors’ conference run by the Association of Canadian Orchestras.  He has acted as choral adjudicator for both the Kiwanis and Music Fest Canada competitions and is the Choral Conductor for the acclaimed Inter-Provincial Music Camp.  During the last six years Mitchell has worked with teachers and students as a choral clinician for a number of professional development workshops across the Toronto District School Board. He is presently Artistic Director of the Oriana Singers and conductor of The Cellar Singers, succeeding Albert Greer who retired in May 2012.

Doug MacNaughton, Baritone (Photo: Catherine Charron-Drolet)
Doug MacNaughton
Baritone

Doug MacNaughton began his singing career at the age of 20, when he made his operatic debut with Edmonton Opera. Since then, he has gone on to sing throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. He is at home in opera, operetta, musical theatre and concert work, and he is known as much for the versatility of his acting as for his singing.

Eric MacKeracher, Tenor
Eric MacKeracher
Tenor

Eric is from Pickering, Ontario. He joined the EIS in September 2000 and in the same month became the music director at Kingston Road United Church in the Beaches area of Toronto. He also sings tenor in the Amadeus Choir. In his spare time Eric likes to read – preferably with one of his several cats curled up in his lap! 

Michael Thomas, Bass
Michael Thomas
Baritone

Baritone Michael Thomas, a native of Toronto, has been a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers since 1998. His powerful, emotive voice has been featured in performances as a soloist with numerous choirs in the Toronto area, most notably with the Amadeus Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers. He was also the baritone soloist with the Toronto Symphony’s New Creations Festival in 2013 in the Canadian premiere of Vabeni: Ritual of Prehistoric Fossils of Man by Krystof Marayka. Michael is a music instructor for the Toronto District School Board and, since August 2006, has been Music Director at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Markham. Michael was selected to sing with Placido Domingo as a member of the Blackcreek Summer Music Festival Chorus.

Nelson Lohnes, Bass
Nelson Lohnes
Bass

Nelson was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Organist and music director at St. James The Apostle, Brampton. Occasional teacher for the Dufferin Peel Roman Catholic School Board and Peel Board of Education. Grade 10 Silver Medal and A.R.C.T. Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Music Associate and Music Licentiate Diplomas from the Western Board of Music. Solo work during career has included opera, musical and choral societies in England, the United States and Canada. Recent solo work was in August at Niagara on the Lake International Festival singing several Spanish Tango pieces with chamber quartet. Nelson will soon be recording a new solo CD, including “Song for the Mira”.

Andrea Ludwig, Mezzo Soprano (Photo: Bo Huang)
Andrea Ludwig
Soprano

Juno-nominated mezzo soprano Andrea Ludwig is an artist of tremendous depth, musicality and scope. Hailed by Halifax Chronicle Herald critic Stephen Pedersen as having “tones of silver and gold,” Andrea has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company in numerous roles including Nireno in Handel’s Julius Ceasar, the Second Niece in Britten’s Peter Grimes, Flora in The Turn of the Screw, Moira in Paul Ruder’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Liesgen in Bach’s Coffee Cantata. Andrea is proud to announce her recent Juno nomination for a recording of Canadian composer Peter Togni’s Responsio in collaboration with Jeff Reilly, Suzie LeBlanc, Charles Daniels and John Potter.

Gisele Kulak, Soprano
Gisele Kulak
Soprano

Saskatchewan native, Gisele Kulak has enjoyed a widely varied career, beginning with opera and operetta, but shifting to oratorio and recital work, dabbling in pop and jazz along the way. Gisele has performed as a soloist with The National Ballet Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Tapestry New Opera Works, The Victoria Symphony, The Oakville Symphony, The York Symphony, The Burlington Civic Chorale, and in many concerts with “Music at Metropolitan”, the concert series of Metropolitan United Church in Toronto.

Gisele has established a focus on choral music, singing with the Elmer Iseler Singers for eleven seasons and Soundstreams’ Choir 21 for seven seasons.  She has also been a member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, “voxworks”, and the Adelphi Ensemble. Gisele teaches singing and provides choral techniques workshops as well as being the vocal coach for The Oriana Women’s Choir.

Susan Suchard, Soprano
Susan Suchard
Soprano

Soprano Susan Suchard is a native of London, Ontario. She holds a BMus from Western University and an MMus in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto. Now in her 21st season with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, she is also a frequent singer with the Elmer Iseler Singers, and a former member of the Elora Festival Singers, the professional core of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Canadian Opera Company Chorus. She enjoys a career as a voice teacher, with students ranging from beginners, to advanced amateurs, to aspiring professionals. As a conductor, Susan has served as Director of Music for Rosedale United Church,  as Preparatory Chorus Conductor for VIVA Singers Toronto, and on projects with Tapestry Opera and Jumblies Theatre. She was an Artist Educator for the Canadian Opera Company and a music teacher in the public school system. As an arts administrator, Susan was General Manager for VIVA Singers Toronto, Managing Editor for Opera Canada magazine, and Leadership Legacy Intern for Tapestry Opera.

Valerie Nunn, Alto
Valerie Nunn
Alto

Valerie was privileged to sing for Elmer in the 80’s and is thrilled to be back singing with EIS.  While in the Singers, she met her husband, Gord Burnett and has Elmer to thank for that!

Her choral experience includes Hart House Chorus, Ontario Youth Choir, University of Western Ontario Faculty Singers, Gregg Smith Singers (NYC), Elora Festival Singers and Tactus Vocal Ensemble. She enjoys playing guitar for the Buddy Choir, a group of developmentally challenged adults who love to sing! 

Karen Freedman, Alto
Karen Freedman
Alto

Despite growing up in a musical household, with her mother a founding member of Elmer Iseler's Festival Singers, Karen only discovered choral singing herself at McMaster University, where she studied French. During an 11-year stay in France, she sang with the Ensemble Vocal de Provence and Audite Nova de Paris. Throughout her teaching career with the Toronto District School Board, she sang first with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under the direction of Elmer Iseler, then with the Amadeus Choir and Lydia Adams.

Now retired from teaching, Karen joined the Elmer Iseler Singers as a substitute in 2018. She is busier than ever, as an alto and librarian with the Amadeus Choir and as a volunteer in the Choirs Ontario Music Library. She loves to travel and read historical novels when she has time.

Shawn Grenke, Accompanist
Shawn Grenke
Accompanist

Conductor, Pianist and Organist Shawn Grenke is Director of Music at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto, Associate Conductor and Accompanist for the Amadeus Choir of Toronto, Accompanist to the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto, and Artistic Director to the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers of Woodstock Ontario.

Shawn is also the Director of the 80 voice Achill Choral Society based out of Orangeville, Ontario. Shawn has made international appearances as conductor, pianist and organist in Poland, Sweden, Korea, the United States and Europe.

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Paul Winkelmans, Baritone - Photo:Simeon Rusnak Photography
Paul Winkelmans
Baritone

Paul Winkelmans joined the Singers at the start of their 2017/2018 season, having just received his Master of Music in Voice and Opera Performance from McGill University. At McGill he enjoyed performances as part of Opera McGill, as well as his involvement in Michael McMahon’s Song Interpretation class. He loves exploring and sharing both standard and unconventional repertoire, combining works by classical masters Schubert and Schumann with contemporary pieces in his programmed recitals, and even commissioning a new Canadian work to premiere for his fourth year undergraduate recital at the University of Manitoba.

Graham Robinson, Bass
Graham Robinson
Bass

Graham studied under Dr. Bruce More, Alexandra Browning, and Susan Young. He was a featured performer for the University of Victoria Chorus and Chamber Singers, and the Victoria Chamber Orchestra In addition to his role as a soloist, Graham has managed a vocal studio and provided vocal coaching to the Cantiamo Youth Choir. After spending time in Cuba and Japan, he now resides in Toronto. In addition to singing with Elmer Iseler Singers, he is featured regularly with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Univox, Humbercrest United Church, and All The King’s Voices.

Cathy Robinson, Soprano
Cathy Robinson
Soprano

Cathy joined the Elmer Iseler Singers in 2005. She has an extensive operatic career, including the role of Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with Premier Opera, Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte with Oberlin’s Summer Opera Program in Casalmaggiore, Italy. Cathy has also appeared in three operas with the New Opera and Concert Centre in Toronto, and was the winner of the 1996 Oshawa-Whitby Kiwanis Senior Rosebowl Competition. Cathy maintains her role as a soprano with the Amadeus Choir, in which she has sung for many years.

Claire Renouf, Soprano
Claire Renouf
Soprano

Claire is thrilled to be a part of the Elmer Iseler Singers. Born in Toronto, she began her formal training as a child when she joined the Toronto Children’s Chorus. After singing with them for seven years, she continued her studies at Queen’s University, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. During her time at Queen’s, she also sang with the Queen’s Choral Ensemble, and performed in several stage productions, such as Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretal, as well as Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. After graduating, Claire sang as a member of the Exultate Chamber Singers under Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt for five years. Claire has studied under such Canadian talents as Patricia Harton-McCord, Elizabeth McDonald, and Bruce Kelly. She continues to use her vocal training as a prospective voice-over talent.

Claudia Lemcke, Alto
Claudia Lemcke
Alto

Claudia Lemcke studied Piano and Voice in her native Germany. With her ‘warm and clear voice and a reliable sense of style’ (Rheinische Post) and ‘her charming sound and directness of interpretation’ (Brantford Expositor) she has established herself as a versatile Mezzo Soprano equally at home in art song and oratorio.

Claudia has been a frequent soloist in Toronto and the GTA and has extensive choral and solo experience with several of Toronto’s finest ensembles. After singing with the Elmer Iseler Singers as a substitute for several years she finally joined the ensemble in 2016.

When she is not singing in Toronto, Claudia can either be found in Montréal, singing with La Chapelle de Québec under Bernard Labadie, or teaching Piano and Voice in her own private studio.

Lynn McMurray, Alto
Lynn Featherstone
Alto

Lynn Featherstone joined the Singers in September 2017. She was raised in Cambridge, Ontario, where she started piano lessons at age six, beginning a life-long pursuit in musicianship – as a choral singer, soloist and conductor. At the University of Toronto she completed both her Bachelor of Music in Music Education in Voice Studies and her Masters in Music Education, and has sung with the University of Toronto MacMillan Singers and the Bach Festival Singers. For over a decade Lynn has been an alto soloist at Fairlawn Avenue United Church. She was formerly Associate Conductor for the Bach Children’s Chorus, under conductor Linda Beaupré. Lynn is the private vocal coach and piano teacher at Crescent School.

Amy Dodington, Soprano
Amy Dodington
Soprano

Amy Dodington joined the Elmer Iseler Singers in the Fall of 2012.  Her musical family has had a long association with the EIS since the days of the Festival Singers.  Originally from Port Carling, Muskoka, she moved to Toronto in 1996 to study Zoology and then Voice Performance at the University of Toronto.  She then studied privately with Monica Whicher.  Amy is now a freelance soloist regularly performing concert works and giving eclectic solo recitals.  As a soprano soloist and section lead she sang for seven years with the Toronto Chamber Choir, sixteen years at Kingsway-Lambton Church, and is currently at Fairlawn Avenue United Church under Eleanor Daley.  Amy’s extensive choral experience includes the Ontario Youth Choir, the Hart House Chorus, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Oriana Singers, Helmuth Rilling’s Stuttgart Festival Ensembles and Soundstreams Choir 21.  You can discover the next thing that’s up her sleeve on her website: amydodington.com 

Gillian Grant
Alto

Since graduating from Queen's University School of Music, Gillian's enthusiasm for her work has provided her with a breadth of experience including teaching private piano and voice lessons, singing with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, singing backup vocals in a folk band, and working as soprano section lead at St. Aidan’s in the Beach. 

Charles Davidson, Tenor
Charles Davidson
Tenor

Hailed for "refined tone, luxurious timbre and superb technique" (Opera Going Toronto),

Charles Davidson trained foremost at the Guildford School of Acting (UK) many moons ago.  A former member of Tafelmusik chamber Choir (2 Juno nominations) and Elora Festival Singers, Charles appears as a soloist with various ensembles around the GTA.  Engagements this season include concerts with Les Violons du Roy/La Chapelle du Quebec and a special "Show Tunes for 200" celebration at Metropolitan United Church, Toronto on May 26.  Favourite roles include Tony in West Side Story,  Frank Jr. in Catch Me if You Can and the title chracters in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical.  For updates, find his FB fan page ('Charles Davidson, Tenor').  It's always a treat to be back in Orillia with The Cellar Singers, Mitchell and the amazing Mariposa Market!

Alison Roy, Alto
Alison Roy
Alto

Alison was born in Ottawa, Ontario and has been with the Elmer Iseler Singers since 1994. She works for the Toronto District School Board as a Music Itinerant. Alison is Second Alto Section Lead at Metropolitan United Church and Alto Section Lead for the Amadeus Choir. In her spare time (whenever that is!), she does studio work, and writes.

Will Reid, Tenor
Will Reid
Tenor

Will is a Toronto-based musician, conductor and educator. When not singing with the Elmer Iseler Singers, he can be seen singing lead for the funk and soul band, Yasgurs Farm as well as the 50s group, The Redeemers. Will is also the Assistant Choir Director and George Black fellow of Sacred Music at the Church of the Redeemer, a position held since 2015. Will holds a B.Mus from the Faculty of Music and a B.Ed from OISE, UofT. 

Ben Keast, Tenor
Ben Keast
Tenor

Ben joined EIS in the fall of 2016. He is a composer, chorister, teacher, and music director. As a composer, he combines his experience in Korean traditional music and his knowledge of western classical music to achieve a unique soundscape – with a focus on choral music. Every summer, he can be found working with talented children, putting on six musicals over the course of a summer at Camp Manitou in McKellar, Ontario. Every Sunday, he sings Renaissance polyphony at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in Parkdale, Toronto. He holds a Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Music from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.