The Bach-Elgar Choir is a community chorus of long standing in Hamilton, Ontario, currently directed by Alexander Cann. The Choir is composed of accomplished amateur singers from Hamilton and neighbouring cities of Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Simcoe. Notable performances by the ensemble include the North American première of Verdi's Requiem and the Canadian premières of Górecki's Miserere and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (the Resurrection). The choir has had several directors throughout its history and has performed at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, the Brantford's Sanderson Centre, with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the Boris Brott Summer Festival. The choir makes frequent guest appearances with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Bach-Elgar Choir was founded by Bruce Carey in 1905 under the name the Elgar Choir. The choir was subsequently conducted by G. Roy Fenwick, W. H. Hewlett, and Edward Stewart. The choir disbanded for a few years during World War II, and reformed in 1947, joining with another disbanded amateur chorus, the Bach Choir (founded 1931 by Graham Godfrey), to form the renamed Bach-Elgar Choir. The Bach-Elgar Choir made its debut in 1947 in Handel's Messiah under Charles Peaker at Hamilton's Centenary United Church.
The choir began by presenting a subscription series of three to four concerts per year at Centenary United Church. Cyril Hampshire conducted the choir from 1948 to 1955, John Sidgwick 1955-60, Frank Thorolfson 1960-2, and Charles Wilson 1962-74. The concert series was moved to Central Presbyterian Church during the 1960s. In 1969 Wilson founded a 36-voice subsidiary choir, the Bach Elgar Chamber Singers; they gave small concert series and performances in Hamilton and southern Ontario for a number of years.
During the 1970s and 1980s the choir continued its concert series at Christ's Church Cathedral, with Donald Kendrick conducting in 1974-8 and 1981-3, Philip David Morehead 1978-80, and Denise Narcisse-Mair 1980-1.
In 1981 the Bach Elgar Children's Chorus was founded.
The choir continued under Gerald Fagan from 1983-1984. By 1986 the choir had 95 members. Wayne Strongman conducted the choir from 1984–97; in the 1990s concerts were performed at Toronto's Rosedale United Church, and at Hamilton Place, where it has been a resident ensemble since 1975. Philip Joseph Sarabura became conductor in 1998, and Ian Sadler between 2000-2005. Concerts have held at Melrose United Church since 2006. Howard Dyck was artistic director from 2006 to 2010, and Alexander Cann has been the artistic director since 2010. In 2018 the choir presented a series of concerts with the best-known songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
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