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Welcome to VOCA Chorus of Toronto

Welcome to our home on the web! Here you will find information about upcoming concerts and events, as well as details about our artistic staff, guest artists, and past concerts. If you haven’t already done so, please join our mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when we have something new to share.


VOCA’s First Virtual Choir Recording!

MAY 2021: Like so many choirs across the globe, VOCA has had a challenging year. We deeply miss singing together in-person. But we’ve been very fortunate to hold weekly sessions on Zoom all season, keep our choral community strong, learn new musical skills, do a ‘deep dive’ into some of our repertoire, enjoy a myriad mix of invaluable warm-ups provided by our 6 wonderful leads … and more.

At our recent (and first online) Spring Cabaret, we presented a wide array of roots, jazz, classical, pop & musical theatre selections to an audience of almost 300 people.

We also featured a very special finale that night, and a first for VOCA: our choir’s virtual choir recording of Morten Lauridsen’s “Sure On This Shining Night”, his stunning setting of James Agee’s exquisite poetry. We spent many weeks working on this ‘choral adventure’, and are very proud of the results. (We currently have over 6,200 views!) Heartfelt thanks to 60 choristers, all of VOCA’s professional staff (artistic director Jenny Crober, accompanist Elizabeth Acker and our 6 section leads), and Jamie Drake (Opus 32 Design) for his superb technical production work.

We hope you enjoy our choir’s first virtual choir recording!


What people are saying about us…

“What a thrill that concert was – ALL of it!… I was in seventh heaven during the performance of Magnificat for Turning… a SUPERB performance… brought tears to my eyes.”

 

Donald Patriquin (2011)

 

“I listened to Winter Solstice with pleasure… stellar work with those opening chords… the quality that delighted me most was the sense of narrative… I think it is one of the most ‘loving’ premieres I have ever had…

 

— Stephen Hatfield (2012)

 

“That was a very special concert tonight … a completely inclusive, unpretentious, deeply moving experience.”

 

— Larry Beckwith (2014)


2022 – 2023 SEASON

Exciting News: “Anang (A Star)”!

During the summer of 2019, I spoke with the renowned (now JUNO-nominated) Cree composer Andrew Balfour about an Algonquin legend which I’d found very moving – about stars representing grandmothers offering their earthly families love and protection – then asked if he would compose a work for VOCA’s upcoming (Spring 2020) “Star Songs” concert.  Andrew enthusiastically agreed… and his exquisite, moving and reflective Anang (A Star) was the result.  We were thrilled and honoured to present the World Premiere of this stunning work at our rescheduled April 2022 “Star Songs” concert, featuring Elizabeth Acker, piano and Jamie Drake, percussion.  

After communications in conjunction with Andrew and Larry Nickel of Cypress Music Publishing, the beautiful Anang (A Star), *along with VOCA’s recording from its premiere at our Apr. 2022 concert, has now been published on the Cypress Music Publishing website: https://cypresschoral.com/…/andrew-balfour/anang-a-star/!

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Andrew Balfour for creating this precious work!

And many thanks to Larry Nickel for publishing it on his website – for others to see and hear, and other choirs to perform!

We’ll be performing Anang (A Star) again at both of our late April “Shining Night” concerts: Apr. 28 at Roy Thomson Hall, and Apr. 29 at our main Spring concert at Eastminster. See below for more info.


FALL 2022

“Songs of Travel” Cabaret Fundraiser

On Sunday, October 16 at 7:30 pm, a full audience joined co-producers Jenny Crober & Emily Vick Agnew for “SONGS OF TRAVEL”, our Fall 2022 Cabaret / VOCA Chorus of Toronto Fundraiser.

Our fundraiser / cabaret featured a wide variety of musical theatre, pop and classical selections about travel, presented by soprano Emily Vick Agnew and and six of VOCA’s professional section leads, with Jenny Crober, music director and pianist.

Joining Emily and Jenny will be Noelle Slaney, soprano; Kevin Mulligan and David Walsh, tenorsand Justin WelshParker Clements and James Coole-Stevenson, baritones.

In addition to the songs presented by all of our wonderful performers, we hosted a 50-50 draw and musical quizzes.

We also featured a lovingly curated and colourful collection of vintage goodies from the owners of ‘Hodge Podge Hotel’ – Emily Vick Agnew, Amy De Wilde and Anna-Kaisa Walker – who donated a portion of their proceeds from that evening to the VOCA Chorus of Toronto.  

(Eventbrite Page: https://Songs-of-travel-fall-2022-cabaret-voca-fundraiser.eventbrite.com.

Co-producers / Co-hosts: Jenny Crober & Emily Vick Agnew

Artistic Director, Collaborative Pianist: Jenny Crober

Date: Sunday, October 16, 2022

Time: 7:30 pm

Venue: The Social Capital Theatre (SoCap Comedy Club) – 154 Danforth Ave. (2nd Floor, above the Black Swan Tavern)

Tickets: $25.00

Flyer Design: Jenny Crober


“A Winter’s Eve”: Sat., Dec. 17

On Saturday, December 17 at 7:30 pm at Eastminster United Church, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto performed “A WINTER’S EVE”, a vibrant and eclectic celebration of the season, including Oscar Escalada‘s choral setting of Astor Piazzolla‘s sizzling tango Invierno PorteñoOla Gjeilo’s stunning Tundra, and Canadian composer Sarah Quartel‘s exquisite cycle, A Winter Day

We also presented a joyful winter madrigal by Thomas Weelkes, selections by four Canadians – a world premiere of Beth Hanson‘s wistful Winter Solstice Chant,  Jane Siberry‘s endearing Are You Burning, Little Candle?Sarah Quartel‘s jazzy Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind  and James Gordon‘s haunting Frobisher Bay – along with Allan Naplan‘s exuberant Hine Ma Tov featuring klezmer clarinet.

Our carol sing with audience rounded out this evening of music – a perfect way to welcome the holiday season!

Guest artists: Cellist Sybil Shanahan, percussionist Daniel Morphy and clarinetist Jonno Lightstone 

Section leads: soprano Noelle Slaney; mezzo soprano Lillian Brooks; tenors Kevin MulliganDavid Walsh; and baritones Justin Welsh James Coole-Stevenson

Tickets ($30 Gen. Adm., $15 Students) – now available from choristers and online via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-winters-eve-tickets-442814910317.

More info., including links offering a preview of our guest artists: https://mailchi.mp/2d3f93d5b1d5/voca-chorus-of-toronto-a-winters-eve-sat-dec-17-2022-5850701

*COVID-19 CONCERT PROTOCOLS
VOCA was thrilled to welcome our audience members to our live performance!  Because the health and safety of our choristers, audience members and volunteers remained our highest priority, *all attendees were required to wear masks.   


SPRING 2023

13th Annual Cabaret: Sat., Mar. 4

Join VOCA on Sat., Mar. 4, will for our 13th Annual Cabaret / Silent Auction (7:00 – doors open/Silent Auction begins; 7:30 Cabaret starts) – our first live VOCA Cabaret since March 2020!!

VOCA’s most significant fundraising event has also become an integral performance event in our choir’s season’s calendar.  

But it’s unlike any other performance we do each season! Our Cabaret will present an evening full of a wide variety of serious and silly solos, duos, trios, and small and large ensembles, featuring numerous choristers, including several of our leads, performing musical theatre, jazz, folk, classical and pop selections.

There will be cabaret seating, a cash bar, and full stage with sound and lighting. Audience members will be able to enter early (7:00 pm) to begin placing bids on the wonderful and varied Silent Auction items before the cabaret curtain opens at 7:30. (*Silent Auction payments can be made using cash, cheques or e-transfer, but not credit cards.)

We look forward to seeing you at our cabaret’s brand new, very spacious venueRiga Hall, at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre (4 Credit Union Drive), Toronto.

Tickets ($30) will be available very soon.  Good news, audience members! Our live Cabaret ticket prices haven’t increased since 2011!  And, there is tons of free parking onsite!

*This is a key fundraising event for the VOCA Chorus of Toronto. Even if you are unable to attend the Cabaret / Silent Auction, please consider donating using this link: https://www.vocachorus.ca/support.


Roy Thomson Hall: Fri., Apr. 28

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*UPDATE!

VOCA was thrilled and honoured to have been invited to perform as part of ROY THOMSON HALL’s 23rd Annual Choir & Organ Concert Series on Thursday, April 9, 2020, 12:00 pm at Roy Thomson Hall!  (https://www.roythomsonhall.com/tickets/voca-chorus-of-toronto/)

At our rescheduled Roy Thomson Hall event on Friday, April 28, 2023 at 12:00 noon, we will be performing “SHINING NIGHT”, a choral and instrumental celebration of stars and the night sky, including works by Eleanor Daley, Paul Halley, Kurt WeillNicholas Ryan Kelly, Richard Rodgers, Pärt Ussberg and others. We will also be featuring a stunning work recently premiered by VOCA, “Anang (A Star)” by JUNO-nominated Cree composer, Andrew Balfour (https://cypresschoral.com/…/andrew-balfour/anang-a-star/; http://cameratanova.com/16/about-us/artistic-director/)

*We will be performing an extended version of “SHINING NIGHT” on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 7:30 pm at Eastminster United. (More info. immediately below.)

Our guest artists – some of Canada’s finest instrumentalists, all of whom have previously performed with our ensemble – will be Shawn Grenke, organ, Colleen Allen, sax and Jamie Drake, percussion.  

We hope to see you at both Spring concerts, including our Roy Thomson Hall debut, in April 2023!


“Shining Night”: Sat., Apr. 29

On Saturday, April 17, 2023 at 7:30 pm at Eastminster United Church, join the VOCA Chorus of Toronto for “SHINING NIGHT”, a vibrant and eclectic choral and instrumental celebration of stars and the night sky, which will include works by Eleanor Daley, Kurt WeillNicholas Ryan Kelly, Frode Fjellheim, Paul Halley, Richard Rodgers, Pärt Uusberg and others. We will also be featuring a stunning work recently premiered by VOCA, “Anang (A Star)” by the JUNO-nominated Cree composer, Andrew Balfour http://cameratanova.com/16/about-us/artistic-director/). VOCA is thrilled that this gorgeous new work for choir, piano and percussion has been published by Cypress Music Publishing, and that the sound file from our premiere (at our Apr. 30, 2022 “Star Songs” concert) is featured on the webpage: https://cypresschoral.com/…/andrew-balfour/anang-a-star/.

Our guest artists – some of Canada’s finest instrumentalists, all of whom have previously performed with our ensemble – will be Shawn Grenke, organ, Colleen Allen, sax and Jamie Drake, percussion.

Tickets ($30 Gen. Adm., $15 Students) will be available soon from choristers and via Eventbrite.

*This concert will also be our choir’s final performance with Elizabeth Acker, who has been VOCA’s absolutely brilliant collaborative pianist for 17 years!


Winter/Spring 2022 Update

Like performing arts organizations worldwide, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto and other choral ensembles continue to be affected by COVID-19.  Although the pandemic is still with us (2 years later), we would like to share a message of optimism.  

On Monday, September 13, 2021, VOCA held its first rehearsal of the 2021-2022 Season at our regular venue, Eastminster United Church – a significant event for our choir, as it was our first live, in-person rehearsal since the March 2020 lockdown!  We held several in-person rehearsals at Eastminster, along with all of our artistic staff (artistic director Jenny Crober, accompanist Elizabeth Acker and 6 professional section leads).  It is very difficult to find the words to describe the feeling of profound joy (and relief) in being able to finally sing together again, in-person, in real time!

We were also able to live stream these in-person rehearsals to almost 20 choristers online.  The feedback from both our in-person and online singers has been very heartening indeed. 

The health and safety of our singers and audience members remain our top priority, and our plans will continue to be guided by up-to-date health protocols.  We’ve put in place numerous, stringent health measures for our in-person sessions: all choristers must be fully vaccinated, sing with masks and use distanced seating, amongst other safety protocols.  These rigorous risk-mitigation strategies are in accordance with public health recommendations. Our choir is also ready to amend our COVID policy and rehearsal options, including requiring booster shots for any upcoming in-person sessions.

This past Fall, VOCA held two online events: a Cabaret/Fundraiser, “Love Stories” in November, and a seasonal celebration, “Seasonal Snapshot” in December.

Due to the virulent Omicron variant, the beginning of 2022 found us back online, holding Zoom sessions focussing on warmups and a variety of musicianship skills, in addition to sectional and full group coaching. We were thrilled to return to in-person rehearsals in late February.

We held our 12th Annual (& 2nd Online) Spring Fall Cabaret/Silent Auction on Sat., Mar. 5, presenting a variety of acts by numerous choristers and all of our professional staff, including a several selections in tribute to Stephen Sondheim. (See more details, below.)

We held a wonderful late March Spring Retreat – our first live event in 2 years – in Grand Hall at the Estonian House on March 26. This included an inspirational workshop with guest clinicians, composer Andrew Balfour and percussionist Jamie Drake, in preparation for the world premiere of Andrew’s exquisite Anang (A Star) at our upcoming “Star Songs” concert.

And what a wonderful feeling it is to – finally! – be well on our way towards the performance of our long-awaited, live, in-person “Star Songs” concert, to be held on Saturday, April 30 at Eastminster United!

All best wishes to you and yours for 2022!


PAST CONCERTS

APRIL 2022

“STAR SONGS” Spring Concert

Saturday, April 30, 2022

On Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 7:30 pm, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto will – finally, after 2 years! – be performing our long-awaited “STAR SONGS” in-person at Eastminster United Church (310 Danforth Ave. at Jackman/Chester subway).

VOCA’s first live performance since December 2019 will feature a variety of classical contemporary, jazz and musical theatre selections celebrating stars and the night sky. 

We’re truly thrilled that our concert will be presenting a world premiere of the exquisite “Anang (A Star)” by the renowned Cree composer Andrew Balfour (http://cameratanova.com/16/about-us/artistic-director/). Other featured composers/songwriters will include Eleanor DaleyMorten Lauridsen, Bart Howard, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Paul Halley, Kurt Weill and Frode Fjellheim.

Our fabulous guest artists will be Shawn Grenke, organ (https://esgunited.org/music-leadership/); Colleen Allen, sax (https://www.colleenallen.ca) and Jamie Drake, percussion/drums (https://jamiedrake.ca/bio).

Date: Saturday, April 30, 2022
Time: 7:30 pm  (*Doors will open at 7:00 pm.)
Venue: Eastminster United Church, 310 Danforth Ave., Toronto (Chester Subway)
Tickets: $30.00 General Admission; $15.00 Students https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/star-songs-tickets-305601481257

Artistic Director: Jenny Crober
Guest Artists: Colleen Allen, sax; Shawn Grenke, organ; Jamie Drake, percussion  Section Leads: Dallas Chorley, soprano; Alex Hetherington, mezzo; Kevin Mulligan, Eli Theocharidis, Walter Mahabir, tenors; Parker Clements, James Coole-Stevenson, baritones 
Flyer, MailChimp Design: 
Jenny Crober
Other Promo & Publicity: 
Jenny Crober & Naomi Shewchuk

*COVID-19 CONCERT PROTOCOLS:
VOCA is thrilled to welcome you to our live performance, after a 2 year wait!  The health and safety of our audience members, choristers and volunteers remain of highest priority to us. Limited tickets will be sold, and all audience members and volunteers will be required to wear masks upon entry and while inside the church, and to show proof of vaccination upon entry.  We thank you in advance for your cooperation.  


MARCH 2022

12th Annual Cabaret / Silent Auction

On Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 7:30 pm, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto held its 12th Annual (& 2nd Online) Spring Cabaret / Silent Auction Online Fundraiser.

Our Cabaret was a virtual delight, featuring a wide variety of musical theatre, jazz, pop and classical selections presented by numerous, multi-talented VOCA choristers, along with all of our professional staff: artistic director Jenny Crober, collaborative pianist Elizabeth Acker, soprano Dallas Chorley, mezzo Alex Hetherington, tenors Kevin Mulligan and Eli Theocharidis, and baritones Parker Clements and James Coole-Stevenson. Our evening included numerous selections in tribute to the brilliant composer Stephen Sondheim, and concluded with a performance by our choristers. 

Co-hosts Emily Vick Agnew & Tom Roedding will masterfully led us through a magical evening of music-making, quizzes & camaraderie.

Our annual Silent Auction featured an assortment of items, including yoga sessions, one-of-a-kind crafts, scrumptious home-baked goods, concerts and music coaching and sessions (including a house/garden concert featuring violin and piano), an opportunity to conduct a carol at a VOCA concert!… and much more. Bidding began on Mon., Feb. 21, and ended on Sun., Mar. 6.

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Time: 7:00 pm – ‘Doors Open’; 7:30 – Cabaret Begins
Tickets: $25.00; Raffle Tickets – $10.00 (See “Add-ons”)

Artistic Director / Event Coordinator: Jenny Crober
Collaborative Pianists / Coaches: Jenny Crober & Elizabeth Acker
Co-hosts: Emily Vick Agnew & Tom Roedding
Silent Auction Organizers: Chrissy Doig, Dagmar Schroeder, Lee Martin, Betsy Wimbs, Mark Gold & Leslie Sinclair (with Ellen Richardson, Jennifer Crawford & Judy MacDougall)
Online Silent Auction Facilitator: Mark Gold
Eventbrite Facilitators: Naomi Shewchuk with Jenny Crober
Zoom V-Jay: Andrew Wolf
Flyer: Naomi Shewchuk with Jenny Crober
Other Promo & Publicity: Jenny Crober

DECEMBER 2021

“Seasonal Snapshot” Celebration

On Friday, December 17, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto presented an online seasonal celebration, “Seasonal Snapshot”, a presentation of our choristers performing – following strict pandemic protocols (masked, distanced, fully vaccinated) – both in-person and via livestream.

Our video event featured a variety of seasonal selections, including works by Ola Gjeilo, Eric Whitacre, Pablo Sosa, James Gordon, Irving Berlin, Mel Torme and others. We included a carol sing with our audience members, who joined us from near and far – from locales across Ontario, as well as other provinces and countries.

Artistic Director: Jenny Crober

Collaborative Pianist: Elizabeth Acker

Section Leads: Dallas Chorley, soprano; Alex Hetherington, mezzo; Kevin Mulligan, Tenor; Eli Theocharidis, Tenor; Justin Welsh, baritone & Parker Clements, baritone

Videographer: Eli Theocharidis

Video Post-production: Eli Theocharidis, Jenny Crober

V-Jay: Andrew Wolf

Flyer Design: Jenny Crober


“Love Stories” Cabaret/Fundraiser

On Friday, November 5, 2021, audience members from across the GTA, Canada and different parts of the globe joined co-producers Jenny Crober & Emily Vick Agnew for their online Fall Cabaret / VOCA Fundraiser, “LOVE STORIES”.

The cabaret featured a wide variety of jazz, pop, musical theatre & opera selections, presented by all of VOCA’s professional vocal leads along with special guests, accompanied by piano, guitar & accordion. 

Joining Emily Vick Agnew, soprano and Jenny Crober, piano were VOCA’s leads Dallas Chorley, soprano; Alex Hetherington, mezzo; Kevin Mulligan, tenor; Eli Theocharidis, tenor; Justin Welsh, baritone and Parker Clements, baritone, with guests Lee Clapp, tenor; Jacques Arsenault, tenor, accordion; Liam Crober-Best, tenor, guitar and Tevra Plamondon, soprano.

*Rafflesmusical quizzes and chats with performers were some of the other activities presented that evening. (Raffle tickets were purchased with tickets for admission. There were prizes for our local audience members and for those from outside Toronto.)

We also presented a look at a portion of one of VOCA’s in-person rehearsals. We were thrilled to be finally singing together again – even fully masked and physically distanced – after almost 20 months away!

Co-producers: Jenny Crober & Emily Vick Agnew

Artistic Director, Collaborative Pianist: Jenny Crober

Date: Friday, November 5, 2021

Time: 7:30 pm

Tickets: $20 (https://www.eventbrite.com/x/love-stories-fall-cabaret-voca-fundraiser-tickets-189750999347)

V-Jay: Andrew Wolf

Flyer Design: Jenny Crober (image: Andrea Andrade)


Vision & Collaboration: Cree Composer Andrew Balfour

Jenny Crober, Artistic Director/Conductor, the VOCA Chorus of Toronto

– As submitted to the CAMMAC Toronto Region Newsletter: Dec. 2020 – Jan. 2021: Vision & Collaboration – Cree Composer Andrew Balfour (Jenny Crober) – CAMMAC Tor. Reg. Newsletter (Dec. 2020 – Jan. 2021)