Kingston Choral Society | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Kingston Choral Society

Kingston Choral Society. Amateur 100-voice choir founded in 1953 by Graham George.

Kingston Choral Society

Kingston Choral Society. Amateur 100-voice choir founded in 1953 by Graham George. An affiliate of the Kingston Symphony Association, the Kingston Choral Society made its debut 12 Apr 1954, performing Haydn's The Creation with the New Symphony Orchestra of Kingston (renamed the Kingston Symphony ca 1963). Following George, the choir's directors have been Lloyd Zurbrigg 1957-8, F.R.C. Clarke 1958-77, Margaret McLellan 1977-80, Rudolf Schnitzler 1980-2, and Brian Jackson 1982-91. Glen Fast succeeded Jackson in 1992 and was assisted by chorus masters Mark Sirett in 1996 and Ian Juby beginning in 1998. Accompanists have included Leonore Black, Margaret McKendry, Pamela Davidson, Leslie Flynn, Allison Gagnon, and Michel Szczesniak.

Performances and Repertoire

Appearing in three to five concerts per year with the Kingston Symphony at Grant Hall (Queen's University), the Grand Theatre, and St George's and St Mary's cathedrals, the Kingston Choral Society has performed a variety of major works, including Bach's Mass in B Minor, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, Orff's Carmina Burana, Vaughan Williams's A Sea Symphony and Flos Campi, and Verdi's Requiem. The choir has also given concert performances, hosted by Stuart Hamilton beginning in 1998, of Beethoven's Fidelio, Bizet's Carmen, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and Verdi's La Traviata. Other highlights have included its 1974 appearance with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Mario Bernardi on CBC Tuesday Night; and performances with guest conductors Alexander Brott and Nicholas Goldschmidt and soloists Maureen Forrester, Jean Stilwell, Theodore Baerg, Russell Braun, and Measha Brueggergosman.

Apart from the standard Western repertoire, the Kingston Choral Society has incorporated a number of works by Canadian composers. The choir presented an all-Canadian program under guest conductor Godfrey Ridout in 1964, and has subsequently performed works by Sir Ernest MacMillan and R. Murray Schafer. Among others, it has premiered F.R.C. Clarke's Festival Te Deum (11 Mar 1973, commissioned to mark Kingston's tercentennial) and Healey Willan's Requiem Mass (completed and orchestrated by Clarke in 1988 and performed on the CBC broadcast of the 1989 International Choral Festival). In 2002 the Kingston Choral Society and the Kingston Symphony premiered Srul Irving Glick's final commissioned work, Isaiah.