Canadian National Exhibition ChorusCanadian National Exhibition Chorus. A mixed choir of approximately 2000 voices, founded in Toronto in 1922 under the sponsorship of the Toronto Star and organized by that daily newspaper's music critic Augustus Bridle. Sometimes referred to as the 'Pageant Chorus,' by 1925 it was possibly the largest choir in North America. Its singers were drawn mainly from other choirs in the Toronto area. It performed annually 1922-34 under Herbert Fricker at the CNE and gave between two and four performances each season with groups such as the Toronto Concert Band and the Goldman Band of New York. In August 1927 it sang in The Heart of the World, a pageant organized by Bridle and staged at the Coliseum for the Second Biennial Conference of the World Federation of Education Associations. Its repertoire included arrangements of folksongs and waltzes, operatic selections, religious pieces, and patriotic songs. Its three recordings made for Victor in 1928 are listed in Roll Back the Years. The chorus ceased activities in 1934.
In 1940 a similar chorus was formed, again through the efforts of Bridle and the Star. Known as the Coliseum Chorus, it was led by Charles Peaker. Fricker was honorary conductor and made some guest appearances. This chorus, accompanied by the Goldman Orchestra from New York, gave its first concert 29 Aug 1940 at the CNE and sang with the TSO under Ernest MacMillan in the fall of that year at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. It appeared there again in 1941 with the US Navy Band. Altogether, the chorus gave six concerts and raised several thousand dollars for war charities. It made a recording for RCA Victor. A Healey Willan composition entitled The Trumpet Call (B55) was written especially for the chorus and premiered in Massey Hall 21 Apr 1941. With the increasing mobilization of Canadians for war work in 1942 the chorus was forced to disband.