Beginning in 1926 the choir was accompanied in public performances by an instrumental ensemble, first by the Montreal Elgar Orchestra (some of whose members formed the Chamber Music Society, later called Montreal String Quartette), and subsequently by members of the MSO. Among the soloists who appeared with the choir were Ann Golden, Anna Malenfant, Léopold Simoneau, and Jan Simons. In 1951 Maureen Forrester was the soloist in Elgar's The Music Makers, one of her first professional engagements.
The programs for an average of three concerts a year were drawn largely from the standard choral-orchestral works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Elgar, and Fauré. The choir has performed Orff's Carmina burana, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and a number of Canadian works including Willan's An Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts (1926), McElheran's Funeral March on the Death of Heroes (Montreal premiere in 1973), and Matton's L'Escaouette (1976).
The choir sang at the opening of the Montreal Forum 22 Apr 1925. The same year it gave its first performance of a complete oratorio, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, at His Majesty's Theatre. It took part 1938-46 and in 1949 in the Montreal Festivals, performing Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Bach's Mass in B Minor and St Matthew Passion, Mozart's Requiem and Coronation Mass, and Berlioz' Requiem, under several different conductors - notably Wilfrid Pelletier, Eugene Ormandy, Thomas Beecham, and Bernard Naylor. It participated in the North American premiere (1945, under Emil Cooper) of the Berlioz Te Deum. At Expo 67 it sang Vivaldi's Gloria and excerpts from Messiah.
The choir gave concerts at St James United Church, at the Victoria and Windsor halls, at the PDA (where the choir sang frequently with the MSO), and at the Salle Claude-Champagne. The Elgar Choir, which ceased its activities in 1985, was subsidized by the Council of Arts of Greater Montreal, the MACQ, and the Canada Council. 'God Save the King,' arranged by Elgar, and 'O Canada' were recorded ca 1954 for release on a 45 (RCA Victor 56-3287). An archival collection relating to the choir is held at McGill University.
Author Annick Poussart
McLean, Eric. 'Found: a leader; wanted: singers,' Montreal Star, 7 Oct 1972
Allen, Francis. 'Choral calisthenics with the Elgar Choir,' Montreal Scene, 7 Apr 1973
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