Music prof’s choir embarks on second European tour

York Music Professor Lisette Canton has embarked on a second European tour with her acclaimed choral ensemble, the Ottawa Bach Choir (OBC) – and has taken two undergrads along to sing bass.

Right: Lisette Canton

The OBC’s initial visit in 2005 was such a hit that the choir has been invited for return engagements May 29 to June 9. It will perform at churches in Germany and Austria, including the historic Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany, where Johann Sebastian Bach was cantor for 27 years.

"The choir’s first European tour exceeded all expectations," said Canton (see YFile May 13, 2005). "Audiences offered standing ovations, and many were moved to tears by the beauty of the music. One German woman pronounced, ‘We sing Bach slowly and heavily, but you sing it so joyfully and lightly – you dance!’"

Canton founded the choir five years ago and serves as its artistic director and conductor. Hailed by Richard Todd, music reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen, as the city’s "best choral ensemble", the OBC has a huge local following. Through broadcasts and tours, it is earning a national and international reputation for interpreting Baroque repertoire in the "emotive and dance-like spirit" that was so much the intent of the composers.

Canton has invited two York students to join OBC on its second European tour. First-year music student Marko Iskric and Mark Caporiccio, a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts, are lending their sonorous bass voices to the ensemble. Both singers trained at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto before coming to York, where they are members of the York University Chamber Choir, Concert Choir and Male Chorus, all directed by Canton in the Department of Music. Organist Jennifer Loveless, who accompanied the combined York University choirs in a concert celebrating the dedication of the Tribute Communities Recital Hall last March (see the May 9, 2007 issue of YFile) has also joined the OBC tour.

Prior to leaving for Europe, Canton led the OBC in a preview concert showcasing the ensemble’s tour repertoire. The performance, hosted by CBC producer Rob Clipperton, took place in the auditorium of the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa on May 25, and featured works by Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schütz.

In Europe, the choir will perform at Thomaskirche, home to the internationally acclaimed St. Thomas Boys Choir, which dates back to the 13th century. On its 2005 tour, the OBC achieved the distinction of being the first Canadian choir to step in for the St. Thomas Boys Choir on tour. The OBC will also perform at the 18th-century Schlosskirche in the festival city of Bayreuth, Bavaria, and in Austria at Vienna’s famed Peterskirche and Kirche St. Andrä in Salzburg, the city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent his formative years.

Following the tour, the choir will appear in the Festival des Hautes Laurentides in Quebec. Their June 16 concert will be broadcast nationally on Radio-Canada’s "Espace Musique" (90.3 FM in Toronto).

Canton joined York’s Music Department in 2004. She teaches conducting and directs the York University Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Women’s Chorus and Male Chorus.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist, Faculty of Fine Arts.