About the Chorale

A spirit of unity, rendered in song.
~ The Globe & Mail

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is Canada’s first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles, including classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk and blues. The 21 classically trained outstanding vocalists of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale have shared the stage with internationally recognized artists such as Juno Award-winning jazz pianist Joe Sealy, singers Molly Johnson and Jackie Richardson, and opera star Kathleen Battle and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble has performed for such luminaries as opera singer Jessye Norman and Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell. The Chorale has performed at events honouring world leaders Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, personality Muhammad Ali, and pianist Oscar Peterson and was the only Canadian ensemble invited to perform as part of the celebrations surrounding the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama in January of 2009.

The multi-faceted vocalists of the Chorale, whose talent stretches beyond the traditional expectations of a classical chamber choir, seek to broaden their vision to include all styles and genres of music, from classical to jazz, folk, blues and popular music, as appropriate to the traditions of the African Diaspora.

The Chorale’s vision is to be a premier performer of Afrocentric composers – past, present and future – and to be a touchstone for the education of audiences and communities regarding the full spectrum of Afrocentric choral music.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s mission is to build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people, both Afrocentric and other, through the medium of music. The Chorale seeks to dissolve the barriers of stereotype, to empower humans in general, and those of African descent in particular.

The Chorale adds another dimension to all of its activities by creating a cultural and historical context for its music. All of the Chorale’s concerts and outreach initiatives include an educational element, and our conductor and singers draw audiences together by increasing their knowledge of Afrocentric music and culture, with the aim of fostering pride in those of African heritage, and informed admiration in those of other cultural backgrounds. The Chorale builds vibrant and healthy communities by uniting its audiences in a love of Afrocentric choral music, and by creating a deeply-contextualized understanding of the complex roots of this music.

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Founder & Artistic Director

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director and conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation and performance of Afrocentric music of all styles. Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Mr. Blyden-Taylor immigrated to Canada in 1973. He founded The Chorale in 1998, in response to a musical void in Canada; there had never before been a professional ensemble dedicated to the dissemination of Afrocentric choral music. The response that The Chorale has received in Canada and the United States since its inception has certainly given credence to Mr. Blyden-Taylor’s vision.

Mr. Blyden-Taylor has conducted several university, youth and concert choirs, most notably completing a 25 year tenure with The Orpheus Choir of Toronto. In addition he works frequently as a guest conductor, having appeared with organizations such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Nova Scotia Youth Choir, Ontario Youth Choir, Central Manitoba Youth Choir and the New Brunswick Choral Federation Youth Sing. He has also worked as artistic director and advisor for the Algoma Festival Choir, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir and the Chatham-Kent Roots Festival.

Mr. Blyden-Taylor has served as a member of the teaching staff of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and the Faculty of Music, Queen’s University. He is a Master Teacher with the Toronto Board of Education, coaching teachers and students in conducting and choral technique, and was recently awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from York University in Toronto.

Mr. Blyden-Taylor is also in constant demand as a Clinician, Adjudicator and Lecturer both nationally and internationally, working extensively across Canada and the United States of America, as well as in Cuba and France. He has also been invited to deliver workshops in Japan, Turkey and Israel. In addition Mr. Blyden-Taylor is an active church musician, serving currently as Music Director of All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church in Toronto.