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Tudor Singers of Montreal
Ensemble vocal Tudor de Montréal (Choir)

Founded: 1962 - Montreal, Canada
Ceased to Operate: May 1991

The Tudor Singers of Montreal/L'Ensemble vocal Tudor de Montréal (= TSM), is a mixed choir founded in 1962 by Wayne Riddell to perform unaccompanied music of the 16th and 17th centuries. It gave its first concert on April 19, 1963 at Redpath Hall and performed regularly in the Montreal area and for the CBC until 1991 when its activities ceased. In 1964 it won the first Leslie Bell Memorial Choral Competition for adult amateur choirs. With the addition in 1966 of singers from the defunct Chorale de Bach de Montréal, the TSM added to their repertoire works of the Baroque and the 20th century, also presenting Canadian works at SMCQ concerts. Prior to 1975 membership ranged from 17 to 35, augmented for larger presentations.

Under Wayne Riddell's direction 1962-1986, the TSM premiered Bruce Mather's La Lune mince (SMCQ, April 2, 1970) and Kelsey Jones' commissioned The Hymn to Bacchus (May 16, 1972), and, under Serge Garant, gave the first North American performance of Papineau-Couture's Paysage (SMCQ, April 2, 1970). It also premiered André Gagnon's To Autumn, written for the TSM, with the composer at the piano (1985). Initially an amateur choir, the TSM were re-organized in 1975 by Wayne Riddell as a professional ensemble of 19 (later 20) voices. In the next decade, the TSM became one of the top three chamber choirs in Canada, (with the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Vancouver Chamber Choir), and contributed to a renaissance of choral music in Montreal. It also toured in Canada and performed in nine European cities (1980), and sang at Alice Tully Hall (April 2, 1984) in New York. The TSM was featured in a mini-series on the life of Antonio Vivaldi for the national television networks of Germany, Italy, and Canada under the musical direction of Vittorio Negri. Following Wayne Riddell's farewell concert in 1986, Eric McLean wrote, 'he founded this Montreal group 24 years ago, setting a standard for such ensemble singing not only in this community, but right across the country' (Montreal Gazette, March 24, 1986).

In 1986 Patrick Wedd succeeded Wayne Riddell and Denis Langelier was appointed administrative director. Wedd, while interested in authentic performance practices of early music, placed greater emphasis on contemporary and popular music and under his direction, the TSM premiered Peter Berring's Quatre Chants d'amour for guitar and vocal ensemble (in 1987), Paul Shuebrook's Maya for choir and clarinet at the Événements du neuf (in 1989), Jacques Hétu's Les Illusions fanées Opus 46 at Toronto's 1989 International Choral Festival, and Claude Vivier's 1983 work Crois-tu en l'immortalité de l'âme (in 1990). From its early years onwards, the TSM generally presented one large-scale traditional work annually, including Handel's Judas Maccabaeus (1968, 1985) and Messiah (1969, 1988, 1989) and J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) (1971), St John Passion (BWV 245) (1972, 1988), Magnificat in D (BWV 243) (1973), Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) (1974, 1981), and St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (1975). Soloists included Nancy Argenta, Colette Boky, Duncan Campbell, Allan Fast, Richard Duguay, Maureen Forrester, Claude Corbeil, Joan Patenaude, Lois Marshall, John Martens, Gaston Germain, Ann Golden, Christina Jones, Gary Relyea, and Catherine Robbin.

Special concerts under Wedd included the performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass with the treble choir of the F.A.C.E. school (1987), a presentation at the Olympic Games in Calgary (1988), an 'Hommage to Olivier Messiaen,' in cooperation with the SMCQ (1989), a benefit concert against AIDS with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall (1989), and an 'Hommage to Fernand Nault' with the Grands Ballets Canadiens in a performance of Carmina Burana (1990). Other performance partners included the Vancouver Chamber Choir (1987, 1988, 1989), I Musici de Montréal (1986), the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (1988-1989), Anonymus (in a performance of El Llibre Vermell, 1990), the McGill Chamber Orchestra (1989, 1990, 1991), and the Ensemble vocal Bernard Labadie (1989). In addition the choir recorded with the MSO, the NACO, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic.

One of the TSM's Canadian tours, Musical Friends, with the Elmer Iseler Singers in 1989, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Inter-provincial Accord between Ontario and Quebec. Concerts of lighter content included performances with La Bottine souriante (1986-1987), Quartango (1988), and the ensemble Répercussion in a Latino-Fusion Evening featuring the premiere of the commissioned works Suite for choir and percussion by Claude Allaire and Freedom by Karen Young and Francine Martel (1990). The main accompanists were pianists Paul Helmer, Paul Stewart, and Michael McMahon.

For its 25th anniversary concert at Salle Claude-Champagne in 1988, the TSM was joined by 20 Tudor alumni, five guest soloists and Wayne Riddell. Wayne Riddell's week-long spring choral symposiums (1978-1985) were continued by Wedd with spring workshops held in cooperation with the Alliance régionale des chorales de l'Île de Montréal (ARCIM) and the Canadian Music Council in 1987 and 1988.

The TSM performed its last concert May 6, 1991 with the McGill Chamber Orchestra at Notre-Dame Basilica.


Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia 2005 Historica Foundation of Canada (Author: Nadia Turbide, 2005)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2005)

Wayne Riddell: Short Biography | Tudor Singers of Montreal | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Tudor Singers of Montreal/Ensemble vocal Tudor de Montréal (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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