I wonder if Torontonians always appreciate the talents being nurtured by the city’s children’s choirs.
Tonight’s treat was brought to a modest Glenn Gould Studio audience by Allegria, the most advanced tween and teen division of the High Park Choirs of Toronto and their artistic director Zimfira Poloz.
Rather than present a straight concert, Poloz and assistant conductor Melanie Marlin wove the songs through with choreography, nice lighting and a boost from percussionist Jamie Drake, cellist Shauna Rolston and pianist Sheldon Rose.
The theme of the show was Faces of Light, which put the music into a context of seeking, speaking to community, love and light. The songs themselves were a pan-cultural collection of contemporary treats — both sacred and secular — threaded together by some fine improvisatory work by Drake with his panoply of percussion tools.
The 36 young singers — 35 girls and a lone boy — were exemplary in every respect, from intonation to balance and diction, whether singing in unison or in sometimes complex parts. Their movement work was nearly seamless. One of the girls, Hilary Allister switched effortlessly from singing (all of which was done from memory) to delivering the poetic spoken narrative with clear conviction, also from memory.
It warms my heart that there are people like Poloz and Marlin who have the inclination and talent to fashion such polished and culturally relevant performances from young people.
As she reached the end of her meditations about our life journeys of discovery and growth, Hilary Allister said, “We must seek light in a way that also teaches us how to give it.”
I couldn’t help thinking how singing in a choir does exactly that.