Rise Up, My Love

Hearts as music notes by monicore via pixabay
‘Rise Up, My Love’ by Healey Willan; Elmer Iseler Singers; Lydia Adams, conductor; album: Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

A note from Artistic Director Lydia Adams:

Dear Friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers – There is Love in the air and the Elmer Iseler Singers wish to bring you a Valentine’s Day musical gift to lift your spirits and to add some sunshine to your day!

We couldn’t think of anything more beautiful to share than the gorgeous setting of ‘Rise Up, My Love’ by the great Canadian composer, Healey Willan.

We hope you enjoy it – and remember – Spring is coming and is only a couple of short months away, so let’s all continue to spread kindness and love to each other. We will soon feel the warm Spring sunshine on our faces.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2021!

In Grateful Remembrance – November 11th, 2020

A Remembrance Day message from Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director, Lydia Adams

Dear friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers,

The Elmer Iseler Singers join voices today with the Toronto Children’s Chorus and the Toronto Youth Choir in grateful remembrance of all those who have served our country in times of war and conflict, and with thanks to those who continue to serve Canada today.

We remember with deepest gratitude all those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

The Elmer Iseler Singers have been honoured to sing at the Old City Hall ceremony at the Cenotaph in Toronto for decades, and this year, with many ceremonies throughout Canada happening virtually, we bring you this video tribute with our friends in the Toronto Children’s Chorus and Toronto Youth Choir, singing the iconic words of Canadian physician, Lt. Col. John McCrae: In Flanders Fields.

We will remember…

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields text by Lt. Col. John McCrae. Music: Lydia Adams. Toronto Children’s Chorus, Toronto Youth Choir, and Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor; Lara Dodds-Eden, collaborative pianist. Live performance at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, November 11, 2018.

Mentoring The VIVA Chamber Singers

The Elmer Iseler Singers announce a new Educational Mentorship Initiative!

VIVA Chamber Singers' logo

We are pleased to announce that the Elmer Iseler Singers will sponsor and join with VIVA Singers Toronto’s Chamber Singers (ages 18-30) in educational and collaborative sessions of mentorship with the EIS as vocal coaches in a study of Handel’s “Messiah” choruses, in a virtual situation. Very few of the VIVA singers have ever experienced singing Handel’s “Messiah”, so this is an exceptional opportunity of learning together. This is an expansion of our ongoing Get Music! Educational Initiative, since we cannot be involved with schools at this pandemic time and is a virtual initiative from the Elmer Iseler Singers through our Artistic Director, Lydia Adams, in cooperation with Carol and Brad Ratzlaff, Co-Artistic Directors of VIVA Singers Toronto.

We are excited to bring to the youth of VIVA, the architecture of a major composition together with the diversity of vocal challenges in Handel’s “Messiah”. To focus on every phrase of several choruses of this monumental masterpiece is an experience of a lifetime. 

The Elmer Iseler Singers are proud to present this educational opportunity to young singers in Toronto.

In Conversation with Lydia Adams

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director and conductor Lydia Adams chats with special guests, the VIVA Singers Toronto Co-Artistic Directors and conductors Carol & Brad Ratzlaff, about the Elmer Iseler Singers educational mentorship initiative with the VIVA Chamber Singers.

If you would like to contribute to the the VIVA Chamber Singers educational mentorship initiative or to any of the programs of the Elmer Iseler Singers, please contact us or click the support us button below.

A Thanksgiving 2020 message and musical gift

A message from Elmer Iseler Singers Artistic Director Lydia Adams, General Manager Jessie Iseler, and the Elmer Iseler Singers Team:

Dear friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers:

Thanksgiving is a time to remember and to be thankful for all the gifts in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for: family, friends, our beautiful country and music in all forms, especially the magic of singing together.

We are told by the Encyclopedia Britannica that the first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1578 in present day Nunavut by the Frobisher Expedition in search of the Northwest Passage, to give thanks for the safety of the fleet.

As Thanksgiving 2020 promises to be somewhat different in that we may not be together with our family and friends, the Elmer Iseler Singers wish to celebrate with you by sharing this musical gift – our recording of Gloria by the great Canadian composer Harry Somers. We were thrilled to sing this marvellous work in Ottawa at the Installation Ceremony of the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson as the 26th Governor General of Canada, and we have wonderful memories of that magnificent occasion and many others where we performed this work.

In this performance, the Elmer Iseler Singers are joined by outstanding trumpeters Michael Fedeshyn and Bob Grim and the esteemed organist Ruth Watson Henderson.

Please enjoy! Revel in the glorious colours of Canadian Autumn while listening to the glorious sounds of Harry Somers! Happy Thanksgiving from the Elmer Iseler Singers!

We want you to know how important you are to us and we thank you for your wonderful support. Stay tuned for exciting new projects to be announced in the next few weeks!

Yes, we will sing for you again, as soon as we can!

Lydia, Jessie and the Elmer Iseler Singers Team

Thanksgiving musical gift

Gloria by Harry Somers. The Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor; Ruth Watson Henderson, organ; Michael Fedeshyn and Bob Grim, trumpets. From the album: Harry Somers – The Glorious Sounds of Somers.

2020-2021 James T. Chestnutt Scholar

Introducing the Elmer Iseler Singers’ 2020-2021 season James T. Chestnutt Scholar

The Elmer Iseler Singers and Artistic Director Lydia Adams are pleased to announce Sharang Sharma as the recipient for the 2020-2021 season educational scholarship in choral conducting and singing.

Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director Lydia Adams speaks with the 2020-2021 Elmer Iseler Singers’ James T. Chestnutt Scholar, Sharang Sharma

Sharang Sharma

Sharang Sharma, James T. Chestnutt scholar for the 2020-2021 Season

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 comprise of 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 is ecstatic about joining the Elmer Iseler Singers and for the opportunity to be mentored by artistic director and conductor Lydia Adams.

The Singers are thrilled to have him join us for the 2020-2021 concert season.

James T. Chestnutt Scholarship

James T. Chestnutt

The James T. Chestnutt Scholarship is an annual award to emerging choral musicians to participate with the Elmer Iseler Singers for a complete season. This educational scholarship was established in 2009 by fellow board member John K. Fenton in recognition of James T. Chestnutt’s outstanding contributions as a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers Board of Directors.

In addition to the scholarship program, James T. Chestnutt shares his love of music as the dedicated board chair of the Elmer Iseler Singers. James T. Chestnutt was awarded Canada’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on March 12, 2015 by the then governor general, David Johnston, for his community initiatives with the Yonge Street Mission and Genesis Place Homes. He is a recipient of the Queens’ Silver and Diamond Jubilee medals. He has also helped those affected by cardiac disease by organizing events and fundraising for the Toronto Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre.

The Elmer Iseler Singers are indebted to James T. Chestnutt for his continuing support and service to the choir, its board and to youth in music.

If you would like to contribute to the James T. Chestnutt educational scholarship or to any of the programs of the Elmer Iseler Singers, please contact us or click the support us button below.

Paradise: A Song of Georgian Bay

Flowerpot Island, Georgian Bay by Julie Daoust

A Summertime Message from Lydia Adams and musical gift from the Elmer Iseler Singers

Lydia Adams, Parry Sound, Ontario
Lydia Adams (photo: Mark Rash)

Dear Friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers,

It’s the end of July, and the summer heat, thunderstorms and evening breezes are here reminding us that the world is continuing its regular cycle, no matter what else is happening on this planet.

Friday, July 31st,  we would have been with our long-time friends and colleagues at the Festival of the Sound, making music in the friendly surroundings of the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Arts in Parry Sound, Ontario, watching the many boats cruising in the largest freshwater archipelago in the world.

The Elmer Iseler Singers have been guests of the Festival of the Sound since its inception, and we share our anniversary with the Festival – 41 years!

What a great partnership this continues to be, and we want to celebrate the Festival of the Sound, on Sabbatical this year, and Artistic Director James Campbell, to say:

We miss you, too!

We look forward to singing with you next summer and we have July 16th, 2021 marked in our calendar for your Gala Opening!

To celebrate today, we are offering you, our wonderful supporters, a musical gift commissioned by the Festival of the Sound and written especially for the Elmer Iseler Singers. Paradise: A Song of Georgian Bay by Parry Sound composer Eleanor Daley on a text by Parry Sound poet Eleanor Hunter, describes the heart and soul of the ancient and iconic Canadian Shield amidst the intense beauty of Georgian Bay. The music is accompanied by the stunning photography of Mark Rash, photographer for the Festival of the Sound; singers of the Elmer Iseler Singers, and one special photograph by Dr. Dan Daley.

We wish for you all, wherever you are, good health and peace.

Lydia Adams
Artistic Director
Elmer Iseler Singers

Summer festival musical gift from the Elmer Iseler Singers

Paradise: A Song of Georgian Bay by Eleanor Daley. The Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor and Shawn Grenke, piano. From the album: Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.

Paradise: A Song of Georgian Bay by Eleanor Hunter (adapted Eleanor Daley)

A song is born in Georgian Bay,
where the rolling breakers roar
on the reefs that were laid in an ancient day,
and the song begins to soar,
when the tune is tossed to the waiting breeze
that flings it to the skies,
then down to the island’s pine trees
to add to their lullabies.

Paradise, this our paradise.

The waters give to the rocky shore,
and the shore gives to the land,
in the crashing surf that evermore
carves its beach of curving sand,
and each of them offers their sound to the song
as on to us it flies,
the lone loons call,
and the seagulls scream their wild and haunting calls.

Paradise, this our paradise.

Song for Canada

Canada Flag by Lydia Adams

Lydia Adams sends Canada Day greetings and an interview with composer, Paul Halley

Canada Day musical gift from the Elmer Iseler Singers

Song for Canada by Paul Halley. The Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor and Shawn Grenke, piano. From the album: Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.

Song for Canada by Paul Halley


Sing a new song,
Sing loud and strong,
Sing of this land of our hopes and our dreams.
Rich harmonies of races and creeds
Join in the chorus from sea unto sea:
Where the whale’s ancient lullaby

Meets the song of the wind in the whisp’ring pines,
All our voices come together, always singing,
“Land of tomorrow, your time has come.”


Qu’un nouveau chant
Dise à présent
Un voeu d’accord qui doit remplir nos cooers.
Peuples divers touchant les deus mers,
Heureux voisins, ne formez qu’un seul choeur
Pour mélanger tous vos accents
Aux refrains des cognées dansant sous les vents.
Que nos voix ensemble chantent et rechantent,
“Oui – Bel aujourd’hui
Vois mon pays.”


Sing of new birth,
Sing of the earth,
Sing of great mountains that reach for the sky.
Proud cities swell,
Vast plains do tell
Of the promise and hope for the future that lies
In the loon’s timeless melody,
In the cry of an eagle that’s soaring free.
All our voices come together, singing
“Land of tomorrow, your time has come.”

English words by Paul Halley
French words by Anton Raphael Boldaire

Song for the Mira

The Toronto Hunt Club, 2018 by Jessie Iseler Bride

A message from Lydia Adams

Song For The Mira by Allister MacGillivray, arr. Stuart Calvert. The Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor with soloist Nelson Lohnes; Shawn Grenke, piano; Clare Scholtz, oboe. From the album: Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.

She’s Called Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia photo by Lydia Adams
‘She’s Called Nova Scotia’ by Rita MacNeil, album: Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Dear Friends – the Elmer Iseler Singers, its Board of Directors, conductor Lydia Adams and General Manager Jessie Iseler, join with Canadians everywhere to send our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to the people of Nova Scotia, who are dealing with unimaginable tragedy and loss this week.

The Elmer Iseler Singers have close ties to Nova Scotia and we have many dear friends and family there, and we share our deep grief with all who have lost family and friends, and with all Canadians.

We offer you a tribute with our performance of Stuart Calvert’s arrangement of Rita MacNeil’s ‘She’s Called Nova Scotia’, sung by Gisele Kulak and the choir, with Lydia Adams conducting, Shawn Grenke on piano, and Claire Sholtz on oboe.

COVID-19 Update

The speed of developments related to COVID-19 pandemic is shocking. We were in the midst of our 6-concert tour through Western Canada when our last two concerts were cancelled as Canada public health guidelines advised against social gatherings and for increased social distancing.

We value the health and welfare of all of our singers, staff, venue staff, audience members and patrons and have chosen to do our part by cancelling all concerts until May 31, 2020. 

As you may already know shutdowns of this type can seriously affect arts and other service-based organizations. If you are in a position to help please consider checking out Paypal Giving Fund Canada or Canada Helps. They feature donation platforms for all charitable organizations across Canada including the Elmer Iseler Singers. Spend some of your screen time looking for efforts you would like to support.