TMC Inventive Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée On Verdi’s Requiem & The Final Three Years

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Conductor & Artistic Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Conductor & Inventive Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée (Picture: Dahlia Katz)

“The previous three years have been actually busy with the choir,” says Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Inventive Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée.

It’s a little bit of an understatement.

LvT final caught up with Jean-Sébastien when he first got here to Toronto to conduct and lead TMC in a Q&A. It was 2021, with town’s music scene simply starting to emerge from the lockdowns. He’d described his objectives for the choir as pursuing “musical excellence […] rooted in accessible, inclusive and numerous creative initiatives”.

Constructing TMC/TMS After The Pandemic

“All of us got here with massive goals and large objectives, and most of them got here to life.”

The COVID pandemic and its lockdowns posed challenges each for the group and its audiences, who had been gradual to return again to dwell performances. Nonetheless, this 12 months, there’s a renewed spirit of optimism after such a protracted interval of doubt.

“However I actually really feel that this previous season, this one — we’re reaching the objectives that I began with.”

One in all his main initiatives was the institution of the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers, a smaller group of 24 skilled singers who’re a part of the bigger Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, but in addition carry out individually, as within the current efficiency of Schubert’s Winterreise. It permits him extra artistic room to program artistically difficult and revolutionary works.

“We had […] a great first 12 months,” he says of the success of TMS. He believes that audiences and critics now see what the skilled ensemble brings to the desk. “To ascertain — it takes a while.”

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Photo: Brian Summers)
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Picture: Brian Summers)

Verdi’s Requiem

The final time TMC carried out Verdi’s Requiem was in the course of the 2014/15 season. On April 27, it is going to be carried out with the complete 160-voice Choir, together with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and soloists tenor Andrew Haji, soprano Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野, mezzo-soprano Rose Naggar-Tremblay, and baritone Geoffrey Sirett.

There are a number of Requiems within the classical music canon, however there’s a distinctive high quality about Verdi’s.

“The standard of that piece comes from the truth that Verdi is reflecting on dying […] however he’s doing that reflection by life,” says Vallée. The items is filled with worry and anguish, feelings which might be very human.

“It’s energetic, and what makes life,” he says. “It comes after life, however is a part of life.”

It’s a piece that has wormed its means into popular culture by way of use in motion pictures and tv scenes. “The principle motion, the one which most individuals know even with out figuring out is the Dies irae.” The Dies irae is the Day of Wrath, when souls obtain their judgment. “It’s nice to rehearse,” he says. “It occurs 3 times within the Requiem. For many composers, they’ve one motion of this,” he explains of the theme’s three iterations, “it’s fairly dramatic.”

Subsequent Season…

TMC will probably be asserting their lineup for the 2024/25 season simply earlier than the Verdi Requiem live performance on April 27. He’s wanting ahead to constructing extra momentum now that audiences have come again.

“That is my third season,” he notes. “We are able to set up it as the brand new regular.” The choir will proceed to current a mixture of masterworks combined with new items, and audiences can anticipate extra of the partnerships that create revolutionary performances, corresponding to final fall’s present with Compagnie de la Citadelle dance.

He can’t reveal a lot concerning the season prematurely, apart from hinting on the season’s significance. “I’m wanting ahead to some issues,” he says, “it’s our a hundred and thirtieth season. It’s a particular milestone. We actually look ahead to that.”

One of many occasions that may mark subsequent season would be the launch of a double CD on the ATMA label that’s anticipated for November. It is going to be known as Bear in mind — 130 years of Canadian Choral Music, and can embrace some commissions relationship again to the very beginnings of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1895.

It’s the primary TMC recording in a number of years, and the primary that may highlight solely Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, with out orchestral accompaniment.

“That is actually our album and our challenge.”

  • Discover extra info, and tickets, for the April 27 efficiency of Verdi’s Requiem by TMC and members of the TSO [HERE].

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