The Amadeus Choir has been under the direction of conductor and artistic director Lydia Adams for 35 years. The Choir became known for its professionalism, exceptional musicality, and diverse, high-quality programming – all a reflection of the leadership provided by Ms. Adams. During her time as Conductor and Artistic Director (1984-2019), the choir grew significantly in size and reputation to become one of Canada’s pre-eminent choral groups. Founded in 1975, the Amadeus Choir performs a regular series of concerts at carefully selected downtown Toronto venues, presenting well-known artists in works by Canadian and international composers, including major works with instrumental ensembles or full orchestra, as well as challenging a cappella performances.
In 1987, Lydia Adams created the Amadeus Choir’s Seasonal Song-Writing Competition which presents an opportunity to compose a song of up to 5 minutes duration to celebrate the Winter Solstice, Christmas or Chanukah. The competition has grown over the years to include submissions from around the world. It now serves as an inspiration to composers of all ages and experience to write new works, enriching Canada’s outstanding choral tradition. In 1994 the Choir recorded Ring-a-the News! which featured a number of winning carols from this competition.
The Amadeus Choir regularly competed in the prestigious biennial CBC Choral Competition, winning awards in 1992, 1994 and 1996 before becoming ineligible due to the Choir’s semi-professional status. In 2000, the singers traveled to Alberta on their first tour, and were enthusiastically received at each of their concerts. They performed at two prestigious festivals (ACCC and ISME), and took the opportunity to launch their CD, Songs of the Spirit, featuring works by Canadian composers Eleanor Daley, Srul Irving Glick and Barry Peters, and a work by Andrea Gabrieli, Missa 4 Vocum, which had just come to light after 300 years. This CD received the biennial award for “Outstanding Choral Recording” 2001-02 by Choral Canada. The Choir’s CD, Voices On High, a combined project with the Hannaford Street Silver Band, was released in 2002, and features music by recent Juno Award winner Bramwell Tovey, Harry Somers and Stephen Chatman, conducted by Bramwell Tovey and Lydia Adams. Also in that same year, Dr. Adams conducted both the Amadeus Chamber Singers and the Elmer Iseler Singers on the CD Everlasting Light – Footprints in New Snow, featuring the music of Christos Hatzis, available on the CBC Records label.
In 2006, the CD The Tokaido – The Choral Music of Harry Freedman was released by the Canadian Music Centre, and featured the Amadeus Chamber Singers, Elmer Iseler Singers, and Aeolian Winds, all conducted by Dr. Adams.
In 2008, the Choir toured once again, traveling to Sackville, New Brunswick to perform at ‘Podium’, Choral Canada’s biennial conference, and then on to Antigonish and Glace Bay, both in Nova Scotia. In addition to the Amadeus Choir’s regular concert series, the choir takes an active role in Ontario’s choral community by working in collaboration with other prominent local ensembles, such as the Elmer Iseler Singers, Bach Children’s Chorus, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Gryphon Trio, Ontario Philharmonic Orchestra, Trillium Brass and True North Brass.
November of 2013 saw the release of the choir’s Celtic Celebration CD.
In May of 2014 the Amadeus Choir was featured as the keynote choir at the International HALIFAX PODIUM 2014. The ACCC Most Innovative Performance was awarded to the Amadeus Choir and Lydia Adams, conductor for “Music of the Spheres,” a collaborative multi-media production between the Amadeus Choir, the Elmer Iseler Singers, The Ontario Science Centre and The Roberta Bondar Foundation.
Lydia Adams, Conductor and Artistic Director Lydia Adams, one of Canada’s most distinguished conductors, has been Conductor and Artistic Director of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto since 1984 and of the Elmer Iseler Singers since 1998. A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Lydia received her musical education at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada and at the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, London, England. During this time she worked and performed with many leading conductors, composers and arrangers including Sir David Willcocks, Sir Neville Marriner, John Rutter, and Bob Chilcott, among others, and while there was awarded the Sir Adrian Boult conducting award. Under her direction, the Amadeus Choir has experienced tremendous musical and organizational growth and has become one of the leading choral forces in Canada. Lydia Adams has conducted many award winning compact discs with her Toronto choirs and has extensively toured and conducted throughout Canada and the United States. The Canadian Music Centre recently stated that “Lydia Adams is the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer.” She has worked with celebrated Canadian composers such as R. Murray Schafer, Harry Somers, Louis Applebaum, Harry Freedman, Eric Robertson, Bert Carrière, Srul Irving Glick, Christos Hatzis, Ruth Watson Henderson, Eleanor Daley, Peter Togni and many others, premiering and promoting their work through concerts, recordings and broadcasts. Ms. Adams has also conducted several Canadian Provincial Youth Choirs, the National Youth Choir of Canada and has served as a guest conductor with ACDA Honor Choirs in Michigan and Colorado. Most recently, in the summer of 2012, she was guest conductor at Tasmania’s Festival of Voices. The recipient of many awards, she has been honoured by the City of Scarborough, the Women’s International Network, the Ontario Choral Federation and Mount Allison University. In 2003, Ms. Adams received an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Mount Allison University, for her service to music in Canada. In 2009, Lydia was named as one of 50 Ambassadors for the Canadian Music Centre – honoured for her outstanding contributions to Canadian music. She was one of six finalists for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2009, 2010, and 2012, and most recently was awarded the 2012 Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition. Dr. Adams possesses extraordinary musicianship and a true passion for the choral art form – her expertise, unique approach and dedication make her a vibrant and inspiring musical force.
Shawn Grenke, Associate Conductor and Accompanist : Conductor, pianist and organist Shawn Grenke is Director of Music at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto, Associate Conductor and Accompanist for the Amadeus Choir of Toronto, Accompanist to the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto, and Artistic Director of the 80-voice Achill Choral Society in Orangeville, Ontario.
Shawn began his musical training as a chorister and pianist with the Hastings County Board of Education Concert Choir under the direction of Rudolf Heijdens in his hometown of Belleville. He has a Bachelor of Music degree from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick), and a Master of Music degree from the University of Toronto. Shawn has performed in various festivals, concert series and recitals throughout Canada, the United States and abroad, including concerts in Poland; at the Let the Future Sing Choral Festival in Sweden; Le Mondial Choral Loto-Québec World Choral Competition in Laval, Québec; and the Xinghai Choral Competition in China.
Joan Andrews, Assistant Conductor: Joan Andrews began her musical studies in Ottawa and has a degree in Music Education from the University of Western Ontario. She had a very active career teaching vocal and instrumental before retiring from her position as head of the music department at Dr. Norman Bethune C.I. in Scarborough. Joan is currently in her 10th season as Artistic Director and Conductor of Village Voices, a mixed-voice community choir of 60+ members in Markham. Aside from being Assistant Conductor of The Amadeus Choir, she has also been a long-time singing member. As a firm believer in the value of music-making at every age and at every level of proficiency, Joan has been an active member of and served on various CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens Amateurs du Canada) committees, both locally and nationally. She has also directed choirs and chamber ensembles at CAMMAC’s Ontario Summer Music Centre. To maintain her instrumental proficiency, Joan plays in Toronto’s Encore Symphonic Band, where she serves as the flute section leader.
The Board of Directors is the executive arm of the Amadeus Choir, working primarily to support the vision of Conductor and Artistic Director, Lydia Adams, and to guarantee the continuing life of the organization.
Board members come from a variety of professional fields, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience that, in partnership with the artistic and administrative teams, enriches the leadership structure and contributes to ensuring the Amadeus Choir’s continued success as one of Canada’s finest choral groups. Being entrusted with the task of board governance is a challenging, yet extremely rewarding, experience. It is a marvelous gift to be involved with the many different facets of the life of the Amadeus Choir – from artistic, to administrative, and especially to interacting with you, our audience and supporters.
Board of Directors, 2018-2019
Board of Directors: Mary Gray, President Phyllis Doherty, Past President Cathy Robinson, Finance Ilana Lucas, Secretary John Stairs, Director Frank Samuels, Director Advisors to the Board: Artistic Team (Lydia Adams, Joan Andrews, Shawn Grenke) and Julie Winn (Fundraising Lead)
Patrons and Honorary Patrons are people who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to choral music in Canada and to the Amadeus Choir. We salute them and are proud to recognize their tireless work to promote choral music throughout Canada and the world. Honorary Patrons The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D. The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D. Jean Ashworth Bartle, C.M., O.Ont. Howard Cable, C.M. Leslie Fagan Mary Lou Fallis, C.M. Vern & Elfrieda Heinrichs Ruth Watson Henderson Ben Heppner, C.M. John B. Lawson, Q.C. Doreen Rao Wayne Riddell, C.M. Bramwell Tovey, O.C., O.M. Peter Togni Catherine Wyn-Rogers, In Memoriam Sir David Willcocks, CBE, MC Srul Irving Glick, C.M., O.Ont. Nicholas Goldschmidt, C.M., O.Ont. Dr. Elmer Iseler Lois Marshall Doris McCarthy