2020 will be ArsMusica's 26th year. Recent highlights include a new opera composition commission by Colin Mendez Morris entitled "Joshua" based on the story of Joshua Glover. Joshua Glover was an escaped slave from St Louis, who was captured and jailed by his former slave owner. Abolitionists stormed the jail, freed Glover and sent him to Toronto via the Underground Railroad. He rented a cabin and farmland from Thomas Montgomery. Montgomery's Inn still stands as a museum.
The original commission for “Joshua” was a 10 minute operatic scene for the History on the Humber Festival in August 2017.
Six performances of scenes from “Joshua” took place at Montgomery's Inn Museum in Etobicoke supported by the Toronto Arts Council animating historic sites program, the Ontario Arts Council's opera workshop program, and the Canada Council's concept to realization program.
In February 2019, ArsMusica was invited to perform “Joshua” at Toronto City Hall and at the Scarborough Civic Centre as part of the Mayor's Black History Month celebration.
ArsMusica has recently been awarded funding from the Toronto Arts Council and the City of Toronto for 4 additional performances of scenes from “Joshua” at Memorial Park stage and the Scarborough Civic Centre in 2020.
Founded in 1994 (non profit since 2002) by soprano Cherry Ann Mendez and her son, composer/conductor Colin Mendez Morris, ArsMusica Concerts perform 4 to 10 performances per year. The performances feature complete opera scenes and recitals performed with professional singers, chamber orchestra, Choir and Children's Chorus. Our singers are younger "up and coming" ethnocultural Canadian professionals who wish to perform with a professional chamber orchestra. ArsMusica's mandate includes working extensively with ethnocultural performers. this includes performers of colour and first generation Canadian performers. (whose parents were born outside Canada)
ArsMusica past performances include complete performances and scenes from Puccini’sMadama Butterfly,La Bohème, Manon Leascaut, and Tosca. Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Magic Flute. Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Bizet'sCarmen, Verdi's Aida, La Forza del Destino, and Rigoletto, as well as sacred works such as the Pergolesi Stabat Mater. ArsMusica also performs an annual Christmas concert where new settings of carols are premiered. The 2011 and 2012 concerts featured the world premiere of the carols set by renowned New Orleans pianist/composer Ellis Marsalis. 2011-12 was the 3rd consecutive year we performed a chamber version of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with a children's chorus.
ArsMusica's other recent co-productions involved performances with Singing Together- a festival involving 30 ethnic Toronto Choirs and Coro San Marco. In October 2016 ArsMusica, organized a tour to Italy culminating with performances at the Cantus Angeli Choral Festival with a 50 member choir drawn from Singing Together choir members.
In Toronto ArsMusica has performed at The Columbus Centre, Heliconian Hall, The Arts & Letters Club,The Church of St. George the Martyr, St. Michaels and All Angels, 1stUnitarian Congregation, Orangeville Opera House, The Stone Church,and Mt. Dennis United Church.
Priority Neighbourhood Outreach
ArsMusica is based in the United Way designated Priority Neighbourhood of Mount Dennis and is committed to partnering with local non-profits through musical partnerships.
Cherry Ann Mendez - Founder and Artistic Director
A Trinidad Music Festival prizewinner, Ms. Mendez hosted her own radio show “Cherry Sings” on Radio Trinidad as a teenager. After singing for Marion Anderson in Trinidad, Ms. Anderson's accompanist Franz Rupp, recommended Ms. Mendez to participate in the Marion Anderson Vocal Competition in Philadelphia. An influential figure in the New York music scene, Mr. Rupp also recommended Ms. Mendez to Lotte Leonard at the the Mannes College of Music in New York City where Ms. Mendez was given a scholarship. Ms. Mendez continued her studies at the University of Toronto. Her teacher was baritone Louis Quilico. She also studied with Daniel Ferro (The Juilliard School) and Shirley Verrett(The University of Michigan). She has appeared in concert at the White Mountains Festival in New Hampshire, Queen’s Hall in Trinidad, the Purcell Room in London England, and the Gubbio Festival in Italy. Her first Toronto role was in the show “Africa in the Caribbean”. Ms. Mendez also won Queens of the Bands in the Caribana festival and later served as a judge in the calypso competition.
As the founder of ArsMusica Community Concerts, Ms. Mendez has presented a series of concerts since 1994 at Heliconian Hall, The Arts & Letters Club, University of Toronto Hart House, York University, The Columbus Centre, The Church of St. George the Martyr, St. Michaels and All Angels, The 1st Unitarian Congregation, Orangeville Opera House, The Stone Church, and Mt. Dennis United Church. ArsMusica currently works at Forest Grove United Church with conductor Colin Mendez Morris and keyboardist/recording engineer Marty Smyth.
As an educator, Ms. Mendez has taught a diverse and successful group of voice students from the opera, music theater, theater, and film genres including Victor Micallef (The Tenors), Ryan Harper, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor (Nathaniel Dett Chorale) and even comedian Jim Carrey!
Ms. Mendez has also served as a guest soloist at the Laval Quebec Choral Festival and the Singing Together Festival( A celebration of cultural diversity through choral music)
In 2015, in collaboration with the Singing Together Festival, Ms. Mendez successfully led a 40 member choir tour to Italy with Maestros Colin Mendez Morris and Daniele Colla, culminating with appearances at the Cantus Angeli Choral Festival and a tour along the Amalfi coast.
A video Demo of Ms. Mendez can be seen here.
Colin Mendez Morris - Music Director
Colin Mendez Morris began his studies on trombone and attended the Tanglewood Festival where he attended masterclasses by composers Gunther Schuller and Leonard Bernstein. After his second summer at Tanglewood he was admitted directly into Boston University to study trombone with a minor in composition. He next enrolled at the New School of Music in New York, studying trombone with Per Brevig, and theory and analysis with Eric Wen. Following his undergraduate studies, Mr Mendez Morris enrolled at the Royal Conservatory of Music, studying composition with Alexander Rapoport. He also enrolled in conducting masterclasses with Victor Feldbrill, Simon Streatfield and Jose Louis Garcia as part of the RCM Conductor’s Workshop. He has also participated in masterclasses with Pierre Hétu at Le Domaine Forget summer festival in Quebec. Mr Mendez Morris then served as assistant conductor to Maestro Bernhard Klee in Germany and the United States. He assisted Maestro Klee for a European Tour with the German National Youth Orchestra, Don Giovanni at the Hamburg Staatsoper and appearances with the Montreal Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. More recently, Mr Mendez Morris completed a residency at the Munich Biennale International Festival for New Music Theater under Dr Peter Ruzicka. He has also arranged and premiered work by composer Ellis Marsalis (Some Children See Him)with ArsMusica in Toronto. Mr Mendez Morris is currently completing a distance MFA in Film (Film Music and Directing) at Staffordshire University in the UK. His academic work includes a study of the Magic Flute Films of Ingmar Bergman and Kenneth Branagh, as well as a re-imagining of the Dido and Aeneas based on Henry Purcell’s opera. Maestro Morris resides in Toronto.