Coming out of our 2021-22 “reunion” season, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale has built some amazing bridges in our musical communities. After the long silence imposed by COVID-19, we were thrilled to finally and full-throatedly share our amazing Afrocentric music with both our existing community and new collaborators and audiences. I want to share a few highlights with you.
Our 2021-22 season began with a stunning online collaboration with Opera Atelier and Tafelmusik, Angel. This 70-minute film represented the culmination of years of work featured a host of collaborators, in addition to the musicians of Tafelmusik and the singers and dancers of Opera Atelier, including Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, Colin Ainsworth, and Mirielle Asselin, and an astonishing new score by Edwin Huizinga. The resulting film was a breathtaking cinematic and artistic experience, and we are beyond proud of our role bringing Edwin’s music to life.
Re-entering live performance meant that long-delayed performances were suddenly once again possible, and we found our calendar pretty full! In December 2021, we brought An Indigo Christmas, Great Joy II, to the stage of the George Weston Recital Hall with Michael Newnham, and the musicians of Orchestra Toronto.
Springtime 2022 saw us join the venerable Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a stunning programme of Sacred Music for a Sacred Space. I shared the podium with the TMChoir’s Associate Conductor Simon Rivard, and both choirs blended their voices in a programme of contemplation and praise.
We ended our subscription season with a Juneteenth celebration with Canadian premieres of works by Brian Nabors, Jerrell R. Gray, and Aaron Manswell; as well as the cantata Make Me A World by Canadian composer Ruth Watson Henderson. We are thrilled to have initiated a partnership with sign-language interpreters Phoenix the Fire, allowing us to share our music and message with a broader audience. This summer, we went beyond the boundaries of Toronto, with performances in Midland, Collingwood, and Huntsville.
This brings us to our current season, which has begun with an artistic whirlwind. I am beyond proud of our performances of R. Nathaniel Dett’s oratorio, The Ordering of Moses, first at the composition’s birthplace in Rochester, New York, then here in Toronto at the George Weston Recital Hall. In a further collaboration with Opera Atelier, the Tenors and Basses performed in Dido and Aeneas at the Elgin Theatre, and now, we are joyfully rehearsing for our December offering, An Indigo Christmas…The Brown King.
I am overwhelmingly proud of the work that this Chorale has accomplished together, connecting with artists, collaborators, and, and we have so much more in store this season: Africville Stories with the Joe Sealy Quartet at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre; Nkeiru Okoye’s opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom in Toronto, St. Catharines, and Kingston; a Spring masterclass and concert in Amherst, MA; and our Spring concert in May 2023 prior to a tour to Saskatchewan and concerts with the Regina and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestras.
However, we also face some challenges. The inflation that makes daily life more costly for all Canadians has not spared the Chorale: rehearsal and performance space, publicity, and even photocopies and printing are all more expensive than ever before. Moreover, we remain committed to paying our artists a fair wage. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is blessed in its generous community of supporters, and we are unendingly grateful for your support.
As a special treat, we will offer exclusive access to the FULL video recording of An Indigo Christmas: Great Joy II from Dec. 21, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023, to all of our friends who donate more than $100.
Your donation will help us to continue to build bridges, share Afrocentric music, perform, and educate. We are so grateful for your support.
A sample clip from our 2021 performance of ‘An Indigo Christmas: Great Joy II’.