Share some musical cheer as Lydia Adams conducts the Elmer Iseler Singers in classics including the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from ‘Messiah’, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Away in a Manger’. Don’t miss the 2023-2024 EIS James T. Chestnutt Choral Scholars, Manishya Jayasundera and Emily Taub as they conduct some gorgeous music.
You won’t want to miss our special guest storyteller – Canadian superstar tenor, Ben Heppner, as he reads Don Gilmor’s Christmas classic, ‘The Christmas Orange’ in his inimitable style, transporting us to another time and space!
We look forward to spending this special hour-long presentation with you and to sharing with you some marvellous musical holiday cheer!
You can donate to the Elmer Iseler Singers online, in person or by phone. Visit our Event Page for more details.
A Note of Welcome from Elmer Iseler Singers’ Artistic Director Lydia Adams
Dear Friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers:
We are missing you, and so sorry that we couldn’t all meet together at our annual fundraiser, Sherry and Shortbread, this year, but we are thrilled to send you a ‘Seasonal Postcard Musical Greeting’ from the Elmer Iseler Singers organization, including from all the Singers, Artistic Director Lydia Adams, General Manager Jessie Iseler and the Board of Directors, James T. Chestnutt, Chair.
The Singers have performed 10 live ‘in person’ concerts in the past seven weeks, including 6 performances of a brand new commission and premiere by the remarkable Canadian composer, Timothy Corlis.
We came into this season at a full run, conquering all challenges, and put the exclamation point on the Fall/Christmas season in the stunning acoustics of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church with our guest artists VIVA Chamber Singers, soloists and orchestra for a remarkable performance of the timeless and majestic ‘Messiah’, by George Frederick Handel.
Our musical seasonal greeting card is about 15 minutes when you can sit back and enjoy the sounds of the season with the Singers once again, and ‘Sing Along’ in audience favourites.
You can play it as often as you like.
This comes to you with our thanks and appreciation for your love and support to the organization.
Greetings Dear Friends of the Elmer Iseler Singers,
As we approach the most magical season of the year, we are getting in touch to wish you the joy and blessings of family and friends, as you gather to celebrate together and connect with each other.
Our organization has been very conscious of our Provincial Health Advisories and the subsequent requests to wear masks again in all upcoming indoor circumstances. Together with the knowledge of over-crowded hospitals and serious health concerns, we have made the difficult decision to not have an indoor reception for Sherry and Shortbread this December.
In celebration of the Season, very soon, you will receive an email with a link to a Seasonal Choral Video Greeting from Lydia Adams and the Elmer Iseler Singers, that will be available to view until December 25th.
The Elmer Iseler Singers move forward with our already advertised Handel’s Messiah at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church on Friday, December 9th at 7:30 p.m. This year we are delighted to present the VIVA Chamber Singers (18-30 yrs.), Carol Ratzlaff conductor, as our associate choir, following the EIS mentorship programme on-line throughout the Pandemic. The outstanding, award-winning soloists featured will be: Meredith Hall, Soprano; Andrea Ludwig, Mezzo-Soprano; Owen McCausland, Tenor; and Jorell Williams, Bass with orchestra. We hope you will join us. Audience members are requested to wear masks for health safety reasons. For tickets click the button below.
This fall we presented Timothy Corlis’ Om Saha Navavatu (May We all be Blessed) in our opening series concert “Walk and Touch Peace”. This commission and five subsequent Greater Toronto Area performances were supported by your donations, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. The World Premiere, in Toronto, of the major forty-five-minute choral composition, a sound journey, accompanied by healing instruments from around the world, received great critical acclaim from the audiences. These concert projects included the Youth of Agincourt Collegiate music students, Amanda Tulk-O’Reilly director and the Senior Dance Corp of Currie Hall, the Silver Swans with Annemarie Cabri. We are still reveling in the glorious sounds of Om Saha Navavatu.
Recently we have also performed in three Ontario guest artist concerts: Grace United Church concert series in Thornbury, October 29th; St. John’s United Church concert series in Alliston, November 6th; and Brantford Music Club concert series at the Sanderson Centre, Brantford, November 20th. We were once again so proud to be asked to perform at the City of Toronto Remembrance Day Ceremony at Old City Hall on November 11th.
We look forward to your continued support as we plan for a spring concert of Canadian premieres, together with the John Rutter Requiem, with instruments, on Sunday, April 30th, 2023, at Eglinton St. George’s United Church, Toronto.
We embrace the twice postponed tour of Atlantic Canada that includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in March of 2023 with the hope of bringing the joy of choral music to the lives of Maritimers and especially those so devastated by the forceful effects of Hurricane Fiona.
There are many convenient ways to support the Elmer Iseler Singers:
We are so very grateful for your continuing support towards our possibilities and promises of future performances and touring as the Elmer Iseler Singers contribute to the growth and awareness of Canadian Choral Music.
We wish you all good health and contentment in 2023.
on behalf of the Elmer Iseler Singers’ Board of Directors
Jessie Iseler General Manager Elmer Iseler Singers
Your donation towards the work of the choir, through PayPal Giving Fund, Canada Helps or calling the EIS office at 416-217-0537, gives you access to our event.
For other ways to donate visit the EIS donate page. 2021 donation tax receipts will be issued for full amount.
Proceeds from this celebration will support the Elmer Iseler Singers’ return to live musical performances, world premieres, community workshops, and educational activities throughout the GTA, around Ontario, and across Canada.
Please join us for this uplifting time together!
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 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 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.
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 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 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!
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 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”.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
Conductor, Pianist and Organist Shawn Grenke is Directorof Music at Eglinton St. George’s United Church inToronto, Associate Conductor and Accompanist for theAmadeus Choir of Toronto, Accompanist to the ElmerIseler Singers of Toronto, and Artistic Director to theWoodstock Fanshawe Singers of Woodstock Ontario.
Shawn is also the Director of the 80 voice Achill ChoralSociety based out of Orangeville, Ontario. Shawn hasmade international appearances as conductor, pianist and organist in Poland,Sweden, Korea, the United States and Europe.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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
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.
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 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 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 Farmas 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 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.