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.


The Spirit of Nature! concert review

Conductor Lydia Adams, The Elmer Iseler Singers and Guest Artists

Sept. 30, 2019: Elmer Iseler Singers and Festival of the Sound unite to celebrate 40 years of music-making! concert review by David Richards (torontoconcertreviews.ca)

“… I was moved in a profound way. The Sound: A musical Evocation of Georgian Bay by Eric Robertson with text by Gary Michael Dault is a five-movement work evoking the poetic beauty of the natural environment of the Parry Sound region. But more than that, it speaks in a timely way to the need to make that beauty sustainable as climate change looms menacingly before us.’

“This concert was all about community. The affection between the two organizations was palpable. James Campbell and Lydia Adams added recollections about their many years at the Festival. Lydia spoke about how the ensemble would find ways to make the music work. Even the mayor of Parry Sound spoke about the Festival’s contribution to the community.’

“This was one of the happiest musical events of the season. Bravo!’

David Richards