Canadian Artists Series

Sponsored by




Focus on Youth

The Concert Grand Piano


Contact Us

The Sanderson Centre-
how to get there

Elmer Iseler Singers

Lydia Adams, Artistic Director

Sunday, November 20, 2022 - 4:00 p.m.

The Elmer Iseler Singers (EIS), conducted by artistic director Lydia Adams, enters its 44th Anniversary Season in 2022/23. This 20-voice fully-professional choral ensemble, founded by the late Dr. Elmer Iseler in 1979, has built an enviable reputation throughout Canada, the United States and internationally through concerts, and recordings - performing repertoire that spans 500 years, with a focus on Canadian composers.

EIS normally present a five-concert series in Toronto each season, and are featured at concerts, workshops, and festivals throughout Canada. Touring is also a major component of EIS activities with national tours, east and west, bi-annually, annual provincial tours and runouts. These events often engage community singers through workshops and in concert performances.

Annually, EIS sponsors choral workshops through their GET MUSIC! Educational Outreach Initiative for secondary school conductors and choirs, concluding with a joint public performance. They also work with university students, to mentor young conductors, who also join us in the joint public performance.

The Elmer Iseler Singers have recorded 15 CDs featuring Canadian music. EIS with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra were 2019 Grammy nominated and 2019 JUNO awarded for the brilliant Ralph Vaughan Williams' Chandos CD recording, with Peter Oundjian, conducting. EIS are 2014 National Choral Award recipients and JUNO nominees for "Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance" for Dark Star Requiem with Tapestry Opera and Gryphon Trio in 2017 and for David Braid's Corona Divinae Misericordiae with Patricia O'Callaghan in 2019.

Lydia Adams - Conductor and Artistic Director

As an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre and hailed by the CMC as "the new leading exponent of the Canadian choral composer', Lydia Adams has dedicated her career to the growth of Canadian choral music. She is Artistic Director the Elmer Iseler Singers, national leaders in commissioning, premiering, performing and recording Canadian choral works. In the fall of 2016, Lydia was appointed director of the Western University Singers.

A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Ms. Adams received her musical education at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick; the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, London, England. She has conducted choral works of Canadian composers including Somers, Freedman, Applebaum, Watson Henderson, Hatzis, Daley and Togni. She has toured extensively and guest conducted throughout Canada and the United States, and recently conducted a tour of the world's first Cree opera, Pimooteewin: The Journey , by Tomson Highway and Melissa Hui. An innovative programmer, Ms. Adams has included over 50 new commissions in the past 13 years. Her own compositions are performed worldwide.

Dr. Adams has been honoured by the City of Scarborough, the Women's International Network, and the Ontario Choral Federation. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Mount Allison University for her service to music in Canada. She is one of 74 featured stage artists in V. Tony Hauser's national Stage Presence 2009 portrait exhibition and publication.

In June 2012, Dr. Adams was announced as the winner of the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition, part of The 2012 Toronto Arts Foundation Arts Awards.

In June 2013 Lydia Adams won the Ontario Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts in the Artist category, with the following citation: "As the conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto for 30 years and of Canada's Elmer Iseler Singers for 15 years, Lydia Adams has consistently promoted and programmed music by both time-honoured and contemporary Canadian composers, while at the same time promoting young Canadian artists, many of whom have gone on to establish a career in singing."

Ms. Adams was a co-recipient of the Parks Canada CEO Award for Excellence (2016) for her collaboration on the music drama presentation The Bells of Baddeck (Lorna MacDonald, Dean Burry) and was honoured to have been appointed as Visiting Associate Professor in choral studies at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University in 2016.

In Spring 2018, Lydia Adams received the honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Cape Breton University for her dedication "to the preservation and evolution of musical culture."

Dr. Elmer Iseler, O.C., O.ONT. 1927-1998

In a career that spanned five decades, Elmer Iseler, the Dean of Canadian Choral Conductors, was pivotal to the development of choral music in Canada. After founding the Festival Singers in 1954, Canada's first professional choir, he became Artistic Director and Conductor of the 180- voice Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for 33 years. In 1979 he established Canada's leading chamber choir, the 20-voice Elmer Iseler Singers. He also enjoyed a long association with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducting over 150 performances of Handel's Messiah, and often premiering complex twentieth century music. Under his baton, Dr. Iseler's choirs achieved international stature for their technical brilliance and artistic versatility. He has, in the estimation of many of his peers in Canada and abroad, created a vibrant world class choral infrastructure in Canada.

While the list of his achievements is broad, several critical contributions make Dr. Iseler singular in his legacy to Canada. He achieved a sound and technique in choral singing which was without parallel in Canada, establishing a benchmark in Canadian choral music to which other choirs across this country, and internationally, aspire. He established a tradition of commissioning Canadian compositions, fostering that goal as one of his priorities. He encouraged young Canadian performers, deriving great enjoyment from making music with young people; this pleasure was reflected in his work with the National and Ontario Youth Choirs. He taught choral music at the University of Toronto from 1965 to 1968, and was appointed Adjunct Professor of Choral Music in the fall of 1997, when he and the Elmer Iseler Singers, as the professional choir-in-residence at the Faculty of Music, worked directly with the students.

The most decorated musician in Canada, and honoured with many awards nationally and internationally, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto, Elmer Iseler's impact will continue undiminished through his many recordings, the ongoing performances and work of the Elmer Iseler Singer's, as well as through The Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting and the Elmer Iseler National Graduate Fellowships in Choral Conducting at the University of Toronto.