The Toronto Consort was formed in 1972, and presented its first series in the 1972/73 season making the group one of Canada’s longest-standing and most successful chamber ensembles. The Consort performed at the University of Toronto’s Walter Hall and at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church from 1972 to 1982. In 1982, the company moved to its current home Trinity-St Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor St. W., Toronto.
The company’s original members were tenors Frank Nakashima and David Walker, counter-tenor Garry Crighton, baritone David Klausner, and bass Timothy McGee, who was its director until 1978. Several personnel changes occurred in the 1970s, including a succession of sopranos: Katharine Pimenoff (1974-5), Penelope Tibbles (1976-7), and Emily Van Evera (1977-9). The membership from 1979 to 1983 consisted of Crighton, Klausner, mezzo-soprano and instrumentalist Alison Mackay, soprano Jean Edwards, and tenor David Fallis. From 1987 to 1991 members were Klausner, Mackay, Fallis, lutenist Terry McKenna, soprano Danièle Forget, and mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell.
The membership from 1992 to 1998 consisted of Fallis, McKenna, Pudwell, soprano Meredith Hall, bass John Pepper, recorder/flutist Alison Melville, and tenor/keyboardist Paul Jenkins. By 2000 the lineup featured Pepper, Fallis, McKenna, Pudwell, Melville, and Jenkins. In 2002, the company was joined by soprano Katherine Hill, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Grossman. In 2005-6 soprano Michele DeBoer joined, thus forming the current ensemble.
The Consort has also performed throughout Ontario, Canada, the United States and in Europe. Early highlights include the 1978 performance for the visiting Archbishop of Canterbury on Baffin Island, NWT and in 1980, a tour to Austria, Sweden, England, and West Germany. For details on recent touring visit our Touring Pages.
Since 1999, The Consort has offered popular and successful educational outreach projects for high school students in the Toronto area and on tour. Three different programs are currently presented: “An Introduction to Medieval Music”, “Shakespeare’s Songbook” and “The Marco Polo Project”.
While the Consort’s core repertoire dates from medieval, renaissance and baroque Europe, the Consort is also well-known for its commitment to modern Canadian works within its mandate. The Consort has had many modern works written specifically for the ensemble, including works by John Beckwith, Lothar Klein, David Keane, Hope Lee, Walter Buczynski, David Eagle, Patrick Cardy, Mychael Danna, Christos Hatzis, Andrew Ager, R. Murray Schafer and David Fallis. Furthermore, the Consort often creates its own editions and arrangements of early music. In some cases, these are standard transcriptions, but in many instances they are unique arrangements involving considerable creative decision-making.
The Toronto Consort has appeared with the Toronto Symphony under Andrew Davis, the Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit, and the North German Radio Orchestra. It has recorded theme music for film and television, including Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter. Recently, the ensemble has been called upon to produce music for historical-drama TV series, including The Tudors, The Borgias and The Vikings, all produced by the cable network, Showtime.
The Consort quite consciously works with artists from other disciplines in order to present early music in a fuller context. For instance, in The Marco Polo Project, Part 2 the Consort invited Lata Pada, the director of Sampradaya Dance Creations to create a new dance piece for bharatanatyam dancers with singer Suba Sankaran. The Consort has collaborated with many important artistic organizations, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato Festival, Tafelmusik, Soundstreams, Sampradaya Dance Creations, Nuit Blanche, Opera Atelier and Doors Open.
The Toronto Consort has made recordings for the CBC Collection, Berandol, SRI, Dorian, and currently Marquis Classics.
Music for Early Instruments. 1974. CBC SM 229
To Syngen and to Pleye. 1976. BER 9020
La Chanson Française: Songs of Medieval and Renaissance France. 1983. COL 8303
Nowell Sing We: A Renaissance Christmas Anthology. 1984. COLK 8304 and SRI 002
Full Well She Sang: Women’s Music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. 1993. SRI 005
Orlando di Lasso: Chansons and Madrigals. 1994. DIS 80149
The Sweet Hereafter (including music by Mychael Danna). 1997. V2IM 44955
O Lusty May: Renaissance Songs of Spring. 1999. DOR 93172
The Little Barley-Corne: Winter Revels from the Renaissance (with violinist David Greenberg). 1999. DOR 93186
The Way of the Pilgrim: Medieval Songs of Travel. 2000. DOR 93214
Mariners and Milkmaids (with violinist David Greenberg). 2002. DOR 93247
Praetorius Christmas Vespers. 2004. MAR 335
The DaVinci Collection: Italian Music from the Time of Leonardo. 2006. MAR 357
The Queen: Music for Elizabeth I. 2008. MAR 387
Navidad: Christmas Music from Latin America and Spain. 2012. MAR 435
All in a Garden Green: A Renaissance Collection. 2012. MAR 515
Re-release of The Little Barley-Corne. 2014. MAR 457