Choir History

The Victoria Scholars in 2010

The Victoria Scholars Men’s Choral Ensemble was founded in 1993 by graduates of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Choir School. Named after Tomàs Luis de Victoria – an outstanding composer of the Renaissance period whose music is renowned for its deep spirituality and emotional expressiveness – the essence of the Victoria Scholars’ music is an emphasis on the clarity and balance of sound so characteristic of Renaissance music, which the ensemble presents through the unique sonority of male voices. The Victoria Scholars’ repertoire, however, is not limited to the Renaissance. It encompasses medieval plainchant, works from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, contemporary pieces in a variety of styles and newly commissioned works.

Each year, the Victoria Scholars present a 3-concert series at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Toronto, as well as at other venues around the city. They also appear frequently as guests of other performing arts organizations in Toronto, and present occasional concerts in other southern Ontario cities (most recently in Barrie, Brantford, Kingston, and Markham). The Victoria Scholars have also completed successful tours nationally (Vancouver and Halifax) and internationally (the United States and the Bahamas).

Past winners of the Canada Council Healey Willan Grand Prize in the CBC Radio National Competition for Amateur Choirs, the Victoria Scholars have had the pleasure of performing with international vocal soloists Russell Braun, Measha Brueggergosman, Norine Burgess, Richard Margison, Robert Pomakov, Sondra Radvanovsky, Catherine Robbin, Michael Schade, Janice Taylor, James Westman and Monica Whicher.

Along with appearing on recordings by Loreena McKennitt and Mary Lou Fallis, we have released 4 of our own well-received recordings (Christmas with the Victoria Scholars: Carols and Lullabies from around the world, John Edward Ronan’s TenebraeDistant Voices: A collection of works by Canadian composers and arrangers and most recently in November 2012, O Night Divine).

The Victoria Scholars can also be seen on Soul Music, a series of programs about music and religion throughout the ages, presented by Vision TV.

Selected highlights from the choir’s history include:

In November 2012 to celebrate their 20th anniversary, a second Christmas CD, O Night Divine, with internationally renowned tenor Michael Schade and Canadian baritone Stephen Hegedus as guest soloists, was released.  The CD enjoyed frequent airplay, reaching No. 6 on Toronto’s Classical 96.3FM’s music charts.

In December 2012, together with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Choir School, the Victoria Scholars presented an hour-long concert at Roy Thomson Hall as part of its Free Noon-Hour Choir & Organ Concert series.  The choir also participated in this series in Dec 2009.

In June 2011, together with Montreal’s women’s choir Concerto Della Donna (under direction of Iwan Edwards) the Victoria Scholars performed Tomas Luis de Victoria’s 26-minute long Requiem and other works in a concert as part of Montreal’s Mondial Choral Festival.

In June 2010 the Victoria Scholars presented an hour-long concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Season Centre for the Performing Arts as part of the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert series.

In June 2009, the Victoria Scholars released their highly-anticipated 3rd album, Distant Voices, an album of all-Canadian music including many works commissioned for, and first performed by, the Victoria Scholars.

In October 2008, the Victoria Scholars made a special appearance during the Toronto concert of the famed Swedish Men’s Choir Orphei Drängar’s (OD) Canadian tour (which was organized by Soundstreams Canada), and participated in a choral workshop with OD’s world-renowned conductor Robert Sund.

In June 2008, the Victoria Scholars appeared twice during the Luminato at the Distillery portion of the 10-day Luminato Arts Festival.

In March 2007, the Victoria Scholars were the special guests of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a concert at Toronto’s St. Paul’s Basilica, which featured Thomas Tallis’ forty-part motet Spem in alium.

In November 2006, the Victoria Scholars were special guests of the Kyiv Chamber Choir, joining the Elmer Isler Singers and the Vesnivka Choir in a special concert presentation of Ukrainian sacred music.

In 2006, the Victoria Scholars joined with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to present Canadian Rodney Sharman’s Letters for the Future under the direction of international conductor Hans Graf to critical acclaim.

In 2004, the Victoria Scholars performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Barenaked Ladies in Sonic Bloom, a fundraising event for the TSO.

In 2003, works from the Victoria Scholars’ 10th Anniversary Concert was broadcast nationally on CBC Radio as part of a programme of all Canadian works.

In 2002 the Victoria Scholars presented the World Premiere of Srul Irving Glick’s How Beautiful You Are, My Love during the International Choral Festival, which was commissioned with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and broadcast nationally on CBC Radio.

In 2001, the Victoria Scholars joined with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in performances of Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, and presented a special joint concert with Canadian composer/organist Denis Bédard at the Toronto Organ Festival 2001, the biennial National Convention of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

In 1999, the Victoria Scholars were chosen by Robert Cooper, Executive Producer of the CBC’s Choral Concert, to represent Canada in the equal-voice division of the Let The People Sing International Choral Competition in Hungary. This prestigious biennial competition is held under the auspices of the European Choral Union.

In 1996, the Victoria Scholars won the Canada Council for the Arts’ Healey Willan Grand Prize during the Biennial CBC Radio National Competition for Amateur Choirs.