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"...for her, every note has an urgent meaning, not just within the composition, but within the wider world."
  • Choral Programs
  • Endowed Chair in Conducting
  • Centre for Advanced Studies in Choral Music
  • International Bach Festival
Doreen Rao

Choral Programs at the University of Toronto

University of Toronto MacMillan Singers

Founded by Doreen Rao in 1994, the University of Toronto MacMillan Singers were named to celebrate the legacy of Sir Ernest MacMillan, an inspired performer and devoted teacher who influenced every aspect of Canada’s musical life. Representing the Faculty of Music in concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the University of Toronto’s Bach Festivals with Maestro Helmuth Rilling, the young ensemble of gifted singers perform a wide range of culturally diverse and distinctive repertoire with a demonstrated commitment to the performance of contemporary choral music. Most recently the young ensemble won 1st Prize in the 2004 CBC National Choral Competition and a Special Prize for “the best performance of a Canadian work.”

2006-07 Season
This season the MacMillan Singers will perform two works with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s C Minor Mass in October under the direction of renowed choral conductor Maestro Helmuth RIlling, and Mozart’s Requiem, conducted by Maestro Peter Oundjian in January. They will also be travelling to Montreal in November to participate in Soundstream’s University Voices concerts, which will feature a world-premiere choral work by James MacMillan. The MacMillan Singers are also proud to be performing Stravinsky’s Les Noces (The Wedding) with the extremely talented Nexus Percussion Ensemble in the upcoming year.

Conductor, Doreen Rao
Doreen Rao holds the University of Toronto Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting. As the Director of Choral Programs, Dr. Rao founded the Faculty of Music’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Choral Music, which supports and enriches the Faculty’s ensemble and conducting programs, hosts the Elmer Iseler Singers and sponsors the Toronto Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling. Doreen Rao conducts the award-winning University of Toronto MacMillan Singers and Chamber Choirs. Her young ensembles collaborate regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and a roster of internationally celebrated artists and educators. She teaches the University’s graduate program in conducting performance and teaches graduate research and philosophy courses related to music performance in education.

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The Bach Festival Singers

The Bach Festival Singers started in 2006 as a multigenerational ensemble of accomplished student, community and professional singers.  Dedicated to the art of choral singing and to the education of Toronto audiences, this vibrant and versatile ensemble serves as a chamber choir for the Toronto Bach Festival under Principal Guest Conductor Helmuth Rilling and as a symphonic chorus with the University of Toronto’s MacMillan Singers.  The choir looks forward to its annual commitment to the Toronto Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling and its inspiring collaborations with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Peter Oundjian. A core of the BFS membership is invited each summer to sing with the European Music Festival in Germany, a program sponsored by the International Bachakademie and conducted by Helmuth Rilling.

2007-2008 Season
This year, the BFS sang Bach’s St. John Passion BWV 245 as part of the 2007 Toronto Bach Festival (October 22nd  through November 3rd ) at the University of Toronto and in Roy Thomson Hall. The BFS 07/08 Season continues with Bach and the Baltics, a concert of music by renowned Baltic composers Imant Raminsh, Peteris Vasks, Arvo Pärt, Algirdas Martinaitis and Jan Sandström, alongside J. S. Bach’s cantata BWV 161. This performance will take place on February 3rd, 2008 at the Church of the Redeemer.

For more information about Faculty of Music programs at the University of Toronto, visit their website.

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