Questions About MNjcc On Demand
Read about the History of the MNjcc Community Choir
The MNjcc Community Choir is a group of passionate, diverse singers who come together as a strong community and find fulfilment through their shared joy of creating music.
The Community Choir was established in 1997 by Director Emeritus and the current Executive Director of the MNjcc, Harriet Wichin. An earlier Community Choir had existed in the 1970s, and the idea of starting anew was enthusiastically supported by then-Program Director Florence Marantz and Executive Director, Bill Emery (both of blessed memory). Under Harriet’s direction for over 20 years, the choir performed popular, annual performances at a variety of venues and events including The Sing! Festival, Princess Margaret Hospital, Annex Family Festival, Trinity St. Paul’s Jeanne Lamon Hall, and at the Toronto United Way Launch. Additionally, a CD was recorded, a chamber choir was formed, and special guest conductors and composers, including Micah Barnes, Alvaro Lozano Gutierrez, and Aaron Jensen, were invited to lead select rehearsals. The Community Choir spawned a broader choral department, including a Women’s Chorus, Specialty Choirs, the Daytime Choir, a Summer Institute for Creative Adults, vocal lessons and more. Generous donors from within the choir created the now Music Scholarship and Innovation Fund, in partnership with the MNjcc Suzuki School.
Within the larger MNjcc community, Harriet nurtured a choir that is its own warm community of enthusiastic adults who enjoy singing, rehearsing, and performing a diverse range of choral repertoire. It is an auditioned choir that rehearses on Wednesday evenings. These rehearsals culminated in public performances in the spring at the Al Green Theatre. There are also casual, intimate performance opportunities provided through cabaret events held once or twice throughout the year for family and friends.
The Community Choir has transformed considerably in the last few years. In 2017, Harriet passed the leadership of the Community Choir to Dr. Mark Ramsay, with Briony Glassco continuing as assistant choir director. By 2019, the choir had 85 singers, some of whom were founding members! Through this remarkable choral leadership, the choir’s skills in tone, phrasing and overall musicality increased to match their enthusiasm and eclectic repertoire. The professionalism of all aspects of the choral program was solidified when Gretchen Paxson Abberger expanded her portfolio to oversee the entire Music Department, including the Suzuki Strings Program and Adult Ensembles. In March 2020, Dr. Mark Ramsay left the choir to take a new position as the Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Choral Activities at Western University. Briony Glassco assumed leadership of the choir to direct six virtual choir projects beginning In the summer of 2020 through the spring of 2021. These projects resulted in the creation of a series of uplifting choir videos.