Tudor Singers of Montreal/Ensemble vocal Tudor de Montréal

The Tudor Singers of Montreal/L'Ensemble vocal Tudor de Montréal. Mixed choir founded in 1962 by Wayne Riddell to perform unaccompanied music of the 16th and 17th centuries. It gave its first concert 19 Apr 1963 at Redpath Hall and performed regularly in the Montreal area and for the CBC until 1991 when its activities ceased. In 1964 it won the first Leslie Bell Memorial Choral Competition for adult amateur choirs. With the addition in 1966 of singers from the defunct Montreal Bach Choir, the Tudor Singers added to their repertoire works of the baroque and the 20th century, also presenting Canadian works at concerts of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ). Prior to 1975 membership ranged from 17 to 35, augmented for larger presentations.

Under Riddell's direction 1962-86, the choir premiered Bruce Mather's Lune mince (SMCQ, 2 Apr 1970) and Kelsey Jones's commissioned The Hymn to Bacchus (16 May 1972), and, under Serge Garant, gave the first North American performance of Jean Papineau-Couture's Paysage (SMCQ, 2 Apr 1970). It also premiered André Gagnon's To Autumn, written for the choir, with the composer at the piano (1985). Initially an amateur choir, the Tudor Singers were re-organized in 1975 by Riddell as a professional ensemble of 19 (later 20) voices. In the next decade, the Tudor Singers became one of the top three chamber choirs in Canada (with the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Vancouver Chamber Choir) and contributed to a renaissance of choral music in Montreal. It also toured in Canada and performed in nine European cities (1980), and sang at Alice Tully Hall (2 Apr 1984) in New York. The ensemble was featured in a mini-series on the life of Vivaldi for the national television networks of Germany, Italy, and Canada under the musical direction of Vittorio Negri. Following Riddell's farewell concert in 1986, Eric McLean wrote, 'he founded this Montreal group 24 years ago, setting a standard for such ensemble singing not only in this community, but right across the country' (Montreal Gazette, 24 Mar 1986).

In 1986 Patrick Wedd succeeded Riddell and Denis Langelier was appointed administrative director. Wedd, while interested in authentic performance practices of early music, placed greater emphasis on contemporary and popular music. Under his direction, the Tudor Singers premiered Peter Berring's Quatre Chants d'amour for guitar and vocal ensemble (in 1987), Paul Shuebrook's Maya for choir and clarinet at the Événements du neuf (in 1989), Jacques Hétu's Les Illusions fanées Opus 46 at Toronto's 1989 International Choral Festival, and Claude Vivier's 1983 work Crois-tu en l'immortalité de l'âme (in 1990). From its early years onwards, the ensemble generally presented one large-scale traditional work annually, including Handel's Judas Maccabaeus (1968, 1985), Messiah (1969, 1988, 1989), Bach's Christmas Oratorio (1971), St John Passion (1972, 1988), Magnificat in D (1973), Mass in B Minor (1974, 1981), and St Matthew Passion (1975). Soloists included Nancy Argenta, Colette Boky, Duncan Campbell, Allan Fast, Richard Duguay, Maureen Forrester, Claude Corbeil, Joan Patenaude, Lois Marshall, John Martens, Gaston Germain, Ann Golden, Christina Jones, Gary Relyea, and Catherine Robbin.

Special concerts under Wedd included the performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass with the treble choir of the F.A.C.E. school (1987), a presentation at the Olympic Games in Calgary (1988), an 'Hommage to Olivier Messiaen,' in cooperation with the SMCQ (1989), a benefit concert for AIDS relief with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall (1989), and an 'Hommage to Fernand Nault' with the Grands Ballets Canadiens in a performance of Carmina Burana (1990). Other performance partners included the Vancouver Chamber Choir (1987, 1988, 1989), I Musici de Montréal (1986), the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (1988-9), Anonymus (in a performance of El Llibre Vermell, 1990), the McGill Chamber Orchestra (1989, 1990, 1991), and the Ensemble vocal Bernard Labadie (1989). In addition the choir recorded with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic.

One of the Tudor Singers' Canadian tours, Musical Friends, with the Elmer Iseler Singers in 1989, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Inter-provincial Accord between Ontario and Quebec. Concerts of lighter content included performances with La Bottine souriante (1986-7), Quartango (1988), and the ensemble Répercussion in a Latino-fusion evening featuring the premiere of the commissioned works Suite (for choir and percussion, by Claude Allaire) and Freedom (by Karen Young and Francine Martel) (1990).

The main accompanists were pianists Paul Helmer, Paul Stewart and Michael McMahon.

For its 25th anniversary concert at Salle Claude-Champagne in 1988, the choir was joined by 20 Tudor alumni, five guest soloists and Riddell. Riddell's week-long spring choral symposiums (1978-85) were continued by Wedd with spring workshops held in co-operation with the Alliance régionale des chorales de l'Île de Montréal (ARCIM) and the Canadian Music Council in 1987 and 1988.

The ensemble performed its last concert 6 May 1991 with the McGill Chamber Orchestra at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica.