It’s hard to believe that many Catholics in Toronto are not aware of one of our greatest treasures: The St. Michael’s Choir School. I would say that the Choir School is not just a treasure of the Church, but a treasure of our city.
Dating back to the early 1900s, with the St. Michael’s Parish School at 69 Bond St., the Cathedral Sanctuary Choir was founded by Monsignor John Ronan, Rector of the Cathedral. In 1937 an elementary school was established for the Cathedral choirboys. The official name of the school at the time was “Cathedral Schola Cantorum.” On May 17, 1955, St. Michael’s Choir School became affiliated with the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome – one of only six other choirs and choir schools in the world that share that privilege. In 1987, in recognition of the Choir School’s fiftieth anniversary, Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton, declared June 15, 1987, as the official St. Michael’s Choir School Day.
From the very beginning the school has provided parishes in the Toronto Diocese and beyond with organists, cantors, conductors, and professional singers. Some well-known alumni include John McDermott, Stewart Goodyear, Michael Burgess, Matt Dusk, Claude Morrison of the Nylons and Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies.
Many of us are familiar with the Choir’s music during the weekly Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral (and the choir cantors during the daily televised Mass), but not many know that the choir performs outside of the Cathedral as well. In particular it is worth noting that the St. Michael’s Choir will be offering several Christmas concerts this December in Cobourg, Peterborough and Hamilton, concluding with two evenings at Toronto's Massey Hall, December 12 and 13. In April, they will be at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. This is no small-time choir! For more information on the Choir School’s Performance Schedule visit: www.smcs.on.ca/concerts.htm
For the last 5 years, we’ve been interested in partnering with the St. Michael’s Choir on a project and finally that time has come. This coming Friday, October 24th, S+L will be taping the North American Premier of St. Matthew's Passion, composed by the Most Reverend Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian Orthodox Archbishop of Vienna, who will be in attendance. Guest soloists include Soprano Wanda Thorne and Bass Robert Pomakov, as narrator. The Choir will be accompanied by a 20-piece string orchestra, conducted by Dr. Jerry Cichocki.
We invite all of you in the Toronto area, to join us for this memorable occasion, this Friday at 7:30pm ET, at St. Paul’s Basilica, 83 Power St. (Parliament and Queen). Admission is free!
For more information, visit www.smcs.on.ca
or call 416.972.9494.
If you miss it, it will be broadcast on S+L TV during the 2009 Lenten Season.