Our next concert is on May 29, 2022: Songs of Light


How to order tickets, books and CDs

  1. Click the “Buy Tickets Now!” button to download Ticket order form and/or the “Books & CDs” button for the Books & CDs order form (*PDF format).
  2. Print out form and follow instructions at the bottom.
  3. For Single Tickets call 416-217-0537.
  4. Payment may be made by personal cheque, Interac e-Transfer, VISA or MasterCard.
  5. For additional information about subscriptions, individual tickets, group purchases, books & CDs, please call 416-217-0537.

Subscriptions and Single Tickets – 2019/2020

  • Full subscriptions are $155; Seniors $135; Students $75 for our 4-concert Toronto season. Full subscribers get a complimentary ticket to our GET MUSIC! Educational Gala concert on Monday, May 6, 2019. Non-subscriber rate is $25 at the door.
  • Single Tickets are from $40 to $55; Seniors $35 to $50 ; Students $15 to $30 (prices vary by concert).
  • Special group rates are available. Please call 416-217-0537.

Available Books and CDs


Choral Visionary

Elmer Iseler Choral Visionary, biography by Walter Pitman

A biography by Walter Pitman, O.C., O.On.,
published by Dundern Press, 2008.
Winner: Choral Canada’s 2010 Outstanding Choral Publication.

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Author Walter Pitman writes:

“…rarely, if ever, has there been a single musician who changed the performance of an entire genre of music across an entire nation… in his relentless pursuit of excellence in choral presentation.”

About the Author

Walter Pitman was a federal MP and an Ontario MLA, president of Ryerson University, and director of the Ontario Arts Council. He was a Member of the Order of Ontario; an Officer of the Order of Canada; and the author of Elmer Iseler, Music Makers, and Louis Applebaum.


“Walter Pitman’s biography of Elmer Iseler presents a charismatic conductor whose impact on choral music in this country has never been matched. Pitman’s own experiences with Iseler enliven this elegantly written, compelling biography.”

WholeNote (October, 2008)

“Walter Pitman benefited from the full cooperation of the Iseler family as well as that of many friends and colleagues to bring readers as complete a picture as possible of this musical icon. The book reads well and will surely be of interest to veteran and younger choral musicians alike.” 

Anacrusis (January, 2008)

“This biography of Elmer Iseler, the famous Canadian choral conductor, guides us from his childhood in a family headed by a Lutheran pastor to his death in 1998 with remarkable detail, precision, and openness.”

The Music Scene, Winter (January, 2009)

The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing up with Musical Parents

The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing up with Musical Parents by Mary Willan Mason

A delightful tale by Mary Willan Mason, the daughter of the composer Healy Willan and pianist Gladys (‘Nell’) Hall. Published by Words Indeed, 2010. Winner: Choral Canada’s 2012 Outstanding Choral Publication.

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The author, Mary Willan Mason, grew up in North Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, daughter of composer Healey Willan and pianist Gladys (Nell) Hall. She depicts her parents’ marriage, accomplishments, and musical collaboration, their lively household, and events and personalities in Toronto. We see, for example, Mary gently humouring Francis Poulenc at tea, Mart and her mother working with Dora Mavor Moore, and her father and ‘Uncle Leo’ Stokowski testing acoustics at Varsity Arena.

“Mason, a journalist and actor now in her nineties, is an astute observer with a remarkable memory. She is able to offer insights into Willan that no-one else could.”

Pamela Margles, WholeNote, 2011

I Didn’t Want It
To Be Boring

I Didn't Want It to Be Boring by Hilary Apfelstadt

Conversations about Ruth Watson Henderson’s Life and Music by Hilary Apfelstadt, forward by Jean Ashworth Bartle, C.M.; Prism Publishers, 2017.

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By any measure, Ruth Watson Henderson had an extraordinary musical career. From prodigious pianist to internationally acclaimed composer, she has been honoured many times for her breathtaking choral compositions. But little is known about her life.

True to its word, “I Didn’t Want It to Be Boring” tells, in fascinating detail, about Henderson’s meteoric rise to stardom. The result is a humanizing account of the Canadian icon — a story of duty and defiance, motherhood and musical inspiration, and the daunting task of striking a balance between them.

Through a series of conversations with Henderson, her colleagues, and her four children, author Hilary Apfelstadt offers a rare glimpse into the life of a musical luminary.

About the Author

Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt

Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Conducting at the University of Toronto where she was named the inaugural Faculty Teaching Excellence Award winner in 2013. She holds the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting. Artistic Director of Exultate Chamber Singers, a semi-professional ensemble in Toronto.


“A must-read for choral fans in general, and for all those who have been inspired by singing, playing, conducting and listening to Ruth’s music.”

Eleanor Daley, composer and director of music at Fairlawn United Church

“Hilary Apfelstadt offers a well-rounded and intimate portrait of this humble but amazingly talented creative artist.”

Robin Elliott, Jean A. Chalmers Chair of Canadian Music, University of Toronto Faculty of Music

Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works with the TSO

Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works

With this celebratory release completing his fourteen-year tenure as Music Director of the TSO, Peter Oundjian conducts an exquisite Vaughan Williams programme, supported by an all-Canadian cast of star soloists.
© 2018 Chandos. Grammy nominated and JUNO award winner!

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In the program notes of the concert preceding the recording, Oundjian declared: “Ralph Vaughan Williams was possibly England’s most significant composer, and he is a personal favorite of mine. This [recording] presents some of his finest works, featuring soloists from the Orchestra as well as some of Canada’s most notable solo artists, and the Elmer Iseler Singers. The lyrical and engaging Oboe Concerto is rarely heard, but it is one of his most inspired works. Serenade to Music showcases his exquisite vocal writing, which also figures prominently in the ravishingly beautiful Flos Campi, so surprisingly scored for solo viola, choir, and chamber orchestra. The Piano Concerto is more dramatic, with a juggernaut opening and a brilliant fugal finale.”


Piano Concerto in C*
Serenade to Music#
Concerto in A minor for Oboe҂
Flos Campi+


Carla Huhtanen, Soprano#
Emily D’Angelo, Mezzo-soprano#
Lawrence Wiliford, Tenor#
Tyler Duncan, Baritone#
Louis Lortie, Piano*
Teng Li, Viola+
Sarah Jeffrey, Oboe҂
Elmer Iseler Singers#+
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Peter Oundjian


“The solo playing by Toronto Symphony principal Teng Li offers deep weight of tone, rapturous phrasing, and a musical personality that mesmerises the ear; the choral singing is superbly focused…”

BBC Music Magazine, August 2018

Read the full TSO news release.


Staniland: Dark Star Requiem

Staniland: Dark Star Requiem

An operatic oratorio with Neema Bickersteth, Krisztina Szabo, Peter McGillivray, Marcus Nance, Mark Duggan, Ryan Scott, Elmer Iseler Singers, Gryphon Trio & Wayne Strongman. © 2016 Centrediscs. Nominated for TWO 2017 JUNO Awards!

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Dark Star Requiem came to be after a commission from the Luminato Festival and Tapestry New Opera. The work premiered in 2010 at the Luminato festival in Koerner Hall, Toronto, Canada. The work is an operatic oratorio with music by composer Andrew Staniland and text by poet Jill Battson. It is scored for four singers, piano trio, percussion, and chorus. The topic of all of the poems in the work used is HIV/AIDS and how it affects the lives and worlds of those who live with the disease or love someone living with the disease.

Dark Star Requiem is at once intended to be challenging and joyous, complex and beautiful. A sequence of 19 poems charting a short history of HIV AIDS unfolds over the course of 14 musical movements. The poems vary stylistically from linked haikus, to ghazals, to praise poems and back to free verse. The musical movements are unified through a haunting melody and driving rhythm derived from the numbers attributed to HIV-1 and HIV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses: and In musical terms these numbers are interpreted in both melody and rhythm.


“A modern Carmina Burana […] Staniland has utilized the modern orchestra and the contemporary media to produce a work of vital dramaturgy and lasting, thought-provoking power.”

The Classical Music Guide

“Striking, beautiful, and wonderfully weird. […] The score is percussive, dissonant yet lyrical and evocative; very powerful and haunting.”

La Scena Musicale

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Harry Freedman: The Concert Recordings

Harry Freedman: The Concert Recordings

Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Radio Choir, Elmer Iseler Singers, Swedish Radio Choir and the Toronto Children’s Chorus. Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Conductor. ℗ 2017 Centrediscs.

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Harry Freedman (1922 – 2005) was a master of orchestration, an art that was informed by his 25 years as English horn soloist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He wrote for many other genres, but his orchestral works contain much of his very finest work, a cannon that is not only large, but also diverse, both in style and creative approach. This compilation of orchestral works by Freedman displays five vivid examples of Freedman’s imaginative takes on orchestral composition, all recorded in live performances for broadcast on CBC Radio.

Freedman was one of Canada’s most frequently performed composers. His output consists of some 200 compositions, including three symphonies, nine ballets, two hour-long stage works, as well as various works for orchestra, choir, chamber groups, and much incidental music for stage, TV and film.


“As the liner notes for the CD assert and as my ears affirm, Freedman was a masterful orchestrator. The sound palette is ever of the most subtly brilliant sort, regardless of the stylistic variables of Freedman’s music over time. There is mystery in the music, all informed by a Modernist expression but not all of a piece. There is change, development, constant creative thrust to be heard.[…] This might be the sleeper of the year! What is clear is that Freedman was a master of the Modern Orchestral Arts! Put this one on and pay attention if you will! It is well worth your eartime.”

(Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

“All the tracks are exceptional […] I feel this is one of the most significant releases from Centrediscs’ in recent years and as we enter Canada’s sesquicentennial an important reminder of our artistic heritage.”

David Olds, The WholeNote

“Make no mistake, however; while this is genuine Canadiana, it has a much wider appeal, not only because of its beauty, but also because of its power.”

Paul E. Robinson, Musical Toronto

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Elmer Iseler Singers Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Contains favourites of the Elmer Iseler Singers and our audiences over the past 35-years.

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“It’s a compendium of tunes the choir has sung from coast to coast to coast – and they do it well!  “

Keith Horner, Conversations with Keith

  • Ain’-a That Good News –  trad. arr. William L. Dawson
  • Abide With Me  –  Lyte/Monk arr. Greg Jasperse
  • Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One  –  Healey Willan
  • Song For The Mira  –  Allister  MacGillivray, arr. Stuart Calvert (Soloist: Nelson Lohnes)
  • Weinachten (Christmas)  –  Felix Mendelssohn
  • Precious  Lord  –  Thomas A. Dorsey, arr. Arnold Sevier
  • Ständchen  –  Franz Schubert (Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano)
  • Mi’kmaq Song  –  trad. arr. Lydia Adams
  • Paradise –  Eleanor  Daley
  • Amazing Grace – arr. Ron Smail
  • Shenandoah  –  arr. James Erb
  • Didn’t  My Lord Deliver Daniel – trad. arr. Moses Hogan
  • She’s called Nova Scotia  –  Rita McNeil  (Gisele Kulak, soprano)
  • Inuit  Hunting  Song  –  arr. Derek  Healey (Soloist: Nelson Lohnes)
  • We Rise Again – Leon Dubinsky, arr. Lydia Adams
  • Song For Canada /Un Chant Canadien – Paul Halley

Eleanor McCain: Intimate

Eleanor McCain: Intimate

Eleanor’s debut classical crossover CD draws inspiration from Celtic, ballad, folk and pop genres – all unified by the deeply personal nature of the music. ℗ 2001 Eleanor McCain.

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“The unifying thread to this musical compilation is the deeply personal nature of the songs –my hope is that the experience is intimate, poignant and filled with an emotion that is genuine and wonderfully human.”

Intimate is a musical compilation of exquisite melodies, poignant words and penetrating emotion. Eleanor’s debut album brings a diversity of musical genres – classic, Celtic, ballad, folk and pop – into a unified, comforting and intimate space. With input from some of Canada’s brightest musical stars, these songs bring both timelessness and ingenuity to the expression of human emotion.


Terrance Sawchuk produced the CD. Guest artists included John McDermott, Natalie MacMaster, Chantal Kreviazuk, Quartetto Gelato, Aaron Davis, and The Elmer Iseler Singers.
Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Eleanor McCain: Holiday (2 CD set)

Eleanor McCain: Holiday

Contains recordings of 19 classic holiday tracks. Special guest artists include the Elmer Iseler Singers and Cindy Townsend. ℗ 2011 Eleanor McCain.

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Nominated for a 2013 ECMA Award for Gospel Recording of the Year.

Eleanor’s passion for Christmas music and the warmth of the holiday season comes to life in this 2 disc set holiday sentiments that are both ‘naughty‘ and ‘nice.’


“A remarkable, beautiful album for the Christmas season and Eleanor does an outstanding job singing says Atlantic Seabreeze. We rate this album a five star plus rating out of 5 stars.”


Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Gustav Holst: The Planets

Gustav Holst: The Planets

With the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Peter Oundjian, Elmer Iseler Singers Women and Amadeus Choir.
© 2011 Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

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Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

The Tokaido – Harry Freedman Choral Music

Harry Freedman: The Tokaido

Rob Piltch, electric guitar; Dave Young, double bass; Robin Enbelman, drum; Amadeus Chamber Singers; Elmer Iseler Singers; Aeolian Winds; Lydia Adams, conductor; &
Toronto Children’s Chorus ℗ 2012 Centrediscs.

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Canadian composer Harry Freedman’s contribution to choral repertoire was as substantial as it was extraordinary. His choral compositions exhibit a remarkable diversity of stylistic influences that range from rock, jazz and scat singing, to serial techniques, yet he spoke always with his own voice. This recording collects some of Freedman’s best-loved choral works spanning the years 1964-2002.

This Centrediscs recording was made possible through the financial assistance of the Fleck Family Foundation, the Julie-Jiggs Foundation, the McLean Foundation, and the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation.


“The performances on this disc are exquisitely presented as a fitting tribute to this brilliant light [Harry Freedman] of Canadian musical heritage.”

Dianne Wells, Wholenote

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

People of Faith – Canadian Brass, EIS

Canadian Brass: People of Faith

Featuring Elmer Iseler Singers and Organist John Tuttle. © 2006 Opening Day Entertainment Group Inc.

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Hymns and chorales for brass, choir and organ. Features “Jacob’s Ladder”, “All Creatures of Our God & King”, and newly composed “People of Faith”.


“Peter [Tiefenbach] has always shown talent, imagination and flair in the arranging field… Performances are strong – stirring…”

Rick Phillips, CBC Sound Advice, April 01, 2006

“What a combination! Each a Canadian musical institution whose work is always first-rate… Performances are impeccable, the arrangements startlingly fresh.”

Glenn Cooper, Host and Producer of the syndicated radio program The Hymn Book, August 9, 2006

Joyful Sounds – Canadian Brass, Festival Singers

Canadian Brass: Joyful Sounds

Featuring Elmer Iseler and The Festival Singers and organist Douglas Haas. © 2007 Opening Day Entertainment Group Inc.

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A Canadian Brass Vintage Release Featuring Elmer Iseler & The Festival Singers and organist Douglas Haas.
Originally released as two LP’s: Joyful Sounds, 1973 and Canadian Brass plus Organ, 1977.


“Moving and celebratory, it all makes for a wonderful bounty by Canadian Brass that takes the listener on a joyous musical journey. This recording will not disappoint.”

Musical Heritage Society, 2011

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Sing all ye joyful: Music of Ruth Watson Henderson

Ruth Watson Henderson: Sing All Ye Joyful

Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor. ℗ 2008 CBC.

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Ruth Watson Henderson has an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading composers and as an admired pianist and organist.

Known especially as a composer of choral works, she has done much to promote the artistry of children through her wealth of compositions for treble voices, using the expertise gleaned over the 28 years she served as the accompanist of the Toronto Children’s Chorus under Jean Ashworth Bartle, until they both retired in 2007. She has at the same time written a wide spectrum of works for adult choirs – an activity started while she was accompanist of the Festival Singers under Dr. Elmer Iseler.

Her works are acclaimed, performed and recorded worldwide. Her pieces are often featured as the title track on recordings. The Elmer Iseler Singers released Sing All Ye Joyful devoted to the works of Ruth Watson Henderson. William Littler, writing in the Toronto Star, refers to this recording as “long overdue”, and states that Ruth’s “years as an accompanist for Elmer Iseler contributed to an understanding of the expressive possibilities of choral sound that has given birth to some of the most singable choral music in the Canadian literature.”

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Harry Somers: the glorious sounds of Somers

Harry Somers: the glorious sounds of Somers

Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor, Ruth Watson Henderson, pianist. ℗ 2012 Centrediscs

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The Glorious Sounds of Somers is the third in a special series of Centrediscs CDs entitled A Window on Somers celebrating and devoted to the music of one of Canada’s foremost composers. This recording brings together many of Somers’ best loved choral works given fresh, new performances by the Elmer Iseler Singers; and together with the previous Centrediscs choral music CD Sacred & Profane Somers constitutes a major body of work in the genre.


Lydia Adams (conducto), Micheal Fedeshyn & Bob Grim (trumpets), Ruth Watson Henderson (organ), Ruth Watson Henderson (piano), Lawrence Cherney (english horn), Erica Goodman (harp), Ryan Scott (percussion), Blair McKay (timpani), Lydia Adams (piano).​


“Suffice it to say that choral enthusiasts should waste no time in acquiring this one.”

Richard Todd, Opus Pocus

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Mother of Light

Mother of Light by Isabel Bayrakdarian

Armenian Hymns & Chants in Praise of Mary by Isabel Bayrakdarian; Ani Aznavoorian, cello; Coro Vox Aeterna; Anna Hamre, conductor; Siroun Kojakian; Marie-Jean Zaatar; Dr. Ishkhan Bayrakdarian. © 2016 Delos.

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For this recording, these hymns are arranged for soprano, female choir, and cello accompaniment. It is no coincidence that most of the performing musical forces are women: what better way to use the collective feminine power to exalt the virtues, sorrows, beauty, and glory of Mary, the most celebrated woman of all time.

This recording includes three types of hymns from the Armenian sacred music tradition: “sharagan” (hymn), “dagh” (ode) and “megheti” (canticle). Sharagan refers to a sacred hymn sung during liturgy, having specific musical patterns and restrictions. Sharagans are distinguishable by the specific musical keys in which they’re written, referred to here as modes unique to the ancient traditional Armenian singing system. Dagh and megheti are sacred songs, which have been accepted as additions to the sung liturgical repertoire, further enriching an already-rich tradition. The long melismatic vocal lines and brevity of text characteristic of megheti further distinguishes it from dagh.

From The Story Behind “Mother of Light” by Isabel Bayrakdarian.


“The evening really belonged to Bayrakdarian, the satin beauty, whose voice carried all before it. No, that doesn’t say it all: Her voice is one of the most engaging and congenial in the world today.”

Ottawa Citizen

“The enchanting, exotic music of Armenia is the perfect foil for Ms. Bayrakdarian’s “grown-up” voice. It’s lush, languid, opulent and absolutely remarkable. The arrangements for cello and voice shock with their purity of melodic line and meditative quality already built in. This may very well be an album to obsess about.”

Robert Tomas, The WholeNote

Elmer Iseler Conducts Canadian Music

Elmer Iseler Conducts Canadian Music

With Robert Aiken, Lawrence Cherney, Sandra Graham, & Orford String Quartet.
© 2012 Centrediscs

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This recording pays tribute to one of Canada’s foremost artists, the late choral conductor Elmer Iseler. As Ken Winters says in his introduction to this CD: “The work Iseler achieved with his three main choirs…will shine on in memory and through their numerous recordings for many generations to come. Indeed, Iseler’s work already represents at the highest level a choral history of music-making in Canada from the 1950s to the turn of the century.”

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Canadian Choral Classics

Canadian Choral Classics

With Miranda Brown, Elmer Iseler Singers, Elmer Iseler & CBC Vancouver Orchestra. ℗ 2000 CBC

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1-4. Sing unto the Lord a new song

5-7. Night Music

8-10. Trois Chansons de la Nouvelle France

11. Quebec May

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Sacred and Profane: Somers

Sacred and Profane: Somers

Harry Somers with Bruce Ubukata, Elmer Iseler, Elmer Iseler Singers, Roxolana Roslak, Timothy Cadan, Susan Cooper, Nelson Lohnes, Robert Missen, Elmer Chambers & Patricia Kern. © 2012 Centrediscs

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Originally released in the early 1980s on vinyl records, these three works are brought together on CD, and represent a major statement in Canadian choral music composition.

Composer Harry Somers offers three pieces, all of which exhibit a thoroughly different character and mood. From the traditional folksong lyricism of the Five Songs of the Newfoundland Outports through the atonally dramatic Kyrie to the witty and bawdy cabaret-like Three Limericks, Somers provides the listener with a rich diversity of musical expression.


“This collection of music by Toronto’s Harry Somers remains one of the finest vocal discs in the Canadian catalogue, with the Elmer Iseler Singers in top form… Would that Somers were more prolific; his music is as good as we have in this country.”

William Littler, The Toronto Star

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net

Canadian Brass – CBC Radio Years

Canadian Brass - CBC Radio Years

Recordings from the 1970s, including performances by the Festival Singers of Canada and Elmer Iseler Singers. ℗ 2008 CBC.

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With an international reputation as one of the most popular brass ensembles today, Canadian Brass has truly earned the distinction of “the world’s most famous brass group.

Canadian Brass is joined by the Toronto Festival Singers, Elmer Iseler Singers, Douglas Haas, Mario Bernardi & the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Listen at Top-10-Songs.net