Our holiday performance at Roy Thomson Hall is just a day away! As our choristers, alumni, special guests and artistic staff practice for this unforgettable performance on Saturday, December 17 at 2:00 pm, we spoke with some of the singers to find out why they are most looking forward to A Child’s Christmas.  

Alumna Kate Van Buskirk inspires as she tells us how the Toronto Children’s Chorus impacted her life in representing Canada as a member of the National Track and Field Team

1. Tell us about your experience as a child singing in the TCC.
It is safe to say that the Toronto Children’s Chorus defined my growing up. Most of the poignant experiences of my childhood occurred with the TCC, and I am deeply grateful to have had this powerful force in my life. I started as a Cherub (now called TC1) at age 7, and was a chorister for the next 10 years, eventually becoming a Head Chorister in my final year. The TCC provided an unparalleled education not only in music, but in all aspects of life. Collectively, my fellow choristers and I navigated dozens of languages, diverse spiritual traditions, and foreign cultures; we tackled high expectations, performance anxiety and loss; and we discovered lifelong friendships, deep shared satisfaction, and profound joy. I struggle to adequately put into words the impact that the TCC had on me, except that say that every part of who I am was shaped in some way by the choir. I am deeply appreciative of everything that Jean Ashworth Bartle did for myself and for the Canadian music community, and for the tremendous work carried on by Elise Bradley.
2. Do you have one memory with the TCC that you cherish the most?
It’s impossible to choose just one cherished memory from my 10 years as a chorister: tours across North America, England and South Africa; recording at Glenn Gould Studio; working with Sir Simon Rattle, Bobby McFerrin and Christopher Plummer; our yearly summer-end camp on the shores of Lake Ontario; and the lifelong friendships I cultivated. This organization was truly a pillar in my life. The memories that I think on most frequently are all of the times that my fellow choristers and I would spontaneously break into song, often in 3 or 4-part harmony, simply for the sake of revelling in our shared ability to create beautiful and powerful music. We did this everywhere: on tour buses, in airports, in the dorms and dining hall at Appleby College, in my Brampton carpool group while fighting rush hour traffic on the 401, and–one of my favourite memories–walking through the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in England during our 2002 tour.
3. How has your time in the TCC affected your life as an adult?
In addition to instilling in me a lifelong love of music, the lessons and values that were imparted during my childhood with the TCC have continued to have a tremendous impact on me as an adult. The discipline, focus, teamwork, commitment, passion, pride and joy that makes the TCC a world-class choral organization are the same characteristics required to excel as a world-class athlete. I have represented Canada internationally many times as a member of our National Track and Field Team and each time, I reflect on the fact that my first experiences as an ambassador for our country occurred as a TCC chorister. The choir taught me to commit to the process of honing my craft, to collaborate as a member of a team, to give all of myself in performances, and to be a proud Canadian, and these skills continue to be integral to my success.
4. What excites you the most about singing in the Alumni Choir for our holiday concert on December 17 at Roy Thomson Hall?
This will be my 22nd consecutive year singing in the TCC Holiday Concert at RTH! I can’t remember a time in my life when the holiday season wasn’t defined by this event; after 10 years in the choir, I have spent the last 12 as an alumnus and I don’t plan on breaking this tradition anytime soon. Each year I cherish the opportunity to stand on that stage and celebrate in song with hundreds of other voices. This will also be the 22nd TCC holiday concert attended by my incredibly supportive parents Jane and Jim, who, for 10 years, made it possible for my sister Emma and I to commute from Brampton into Toronto twice a week for rehearsals, acted as parent volunteers, and encouraged the exploration of our love of music.
5. What is your favourite holiday song?
Again, such a difficult question to answer! If I had to choose, I think that that John Rutter’s Dancing Day cycle of carols would be my favourite. The arrangements are stunning, especially with the harp accompaniment, and there is something unbelievably powerful about the experience of performing them at RTH. I can still sing along to every word in Latin! My other favourites would be Star Carol and God Bless the Master, both of which you can hear on Saturday!


Choristers tell us why they are most looking forward to our performance at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday



Alumna Talya Prychodko will sing with her daughters this Saturday, December 17 at Roy Thomson Hall

1. Tell us about your experience as a child singing in the TCC.
As a student under Mrs Gam/ Bartle at Howard Public school,  TCC was a right of passage at its inception. This does not mean it was a given, it means we all loved the many pieces of school choirs Jean created – and as such were proud to take it to a higher level. My experience is more about the visionary Jean Asheorth Bartle, and the extreme impact and opportunity she gave all of us. We were in countless choirs (primary, senior, Kiwanis, Centenial, Roy Thompson, Massey….on & on). The legacy she created was a captive and awake mind in theory, and a love and belonging with music. When I joined TCC it was grade 5…my memory is about sheer expectation and perseverance to bring we choristers to the next level. Dare I say, beyond the Royal Conservatory in our breadth and agility. We were proud to be a part of her passion…

2. Do you have one memory with the TCC that you cherish the most?
The love for music…it is a sheer joy I cannot go without. I also loved the week of summer camp, team building and great impact vis-vis the older mentor choristers.
3. What inspired you to encourage your children to join the TCC?
I wanted to introduce another language to my children and realized that music was that complex joy mixed with learning that enriches development of the mind and versatility.. 
4. What excites you the most about singing in the Alumni Choir for our holiday concert on December 17 at Roy Thomson Hall?
That I will be on stage with both my girls…it makes me proud and so connected with them.
5. What is your favourite holiday song?
Coventry Carol…without a doubt or hesitation.
If I may add another comment: my experience with the choirs created an appreciation and a fixture for music in my life…To this day I am happiest with music..and I do believe all the science that states music wards off brain deterioration – and also builds intelligence and retention. It is amazing, I have seen such noticeable capability in my daughter – she is astounding me with her quick quick grasp on school subjects and just loving singing—-she teaches her sister 🙂

This Saturday:

The Toronto Children’s Chorus will be joined by the Alumni Choir and the Toronto Youth Choir, as well as special guests Stratford Festival actor Geraint Wyn Davies, renowned harpist Judy Loman and friends from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 

Pre-concert singing: The Alumni Choir will perform, under the direction of Conductor Cassandra Luftspring, in Roy Thomson Hall lobby from 1:15 to 1:45pm on Saturday. We will live stream their performance on our Facebook page!

Tickets are available through Roy Thomson Hall box office online and by phone at 416-872-4255.