The Bach Elgar Choir is Hamilton's renowned concert choir and a leader in Canadian choral music. The ensemble was founded by conductor Bruce Carey as the Elgar Choir, and performed its first concert in 1905. In its early years, the choir had a regional reputation, performing frequently with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony. Merging with the Bach Choir after the Second World War, the ensemble toured extensively, commissioned works, and performed with international stars. The BEC has several firsts to its credit, including the North American premiere of Verdi’s Requiem and the Canadian premiere of Mahler's Symphony #2.
The BEC's productions achieve a high artistic standard. In recent years, the BEC has sung numerous masterworks, including Bach's Magnificat, Handel's Israel in Egypt, Mozart's Requiem, and Beethoven's Mass in C Major. A cornerstone of the ensemble's programming is its annual presentation of Handel's Messiah. The BEC produces engaging musical performances appealing to diverse audiences, such as its critically lauded 2019 live soundtrack to Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis. The BEC proudly champions Canadian music and in recent years has sung Charles Demuynck's Ah voltige mon amour, Jean Coulthard's Quebec May, and Healey Willan's Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts. Appearing often with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and employing the finest local and national vocal talent, the BEC is an intrinsic part of Hamilton's thriving arts scene.
2019–2020 is the tenth season for creative team Alexander Cann, artistic director, and Krista Rhodes, accompanist. The current season features the performance of a Romantic masterpiece, Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, and culminates with the inaugural Three Choir Festival, featuring a 150-voice festival choir and new commission by Canadian composer Matthew Emery.
Alexander Cann is a conductor, accompanist, and music teacher. Since 2009 Cann has been Artistic Director of the Bach Elgar Choir. In this time the choir has placed a focus on the major works of Bach, developed a diverse program of opera choruses, and broadened its repertoire of choral/orchestral masterworks. With Cann, BEC has produced carefully constructed programs designed to appeal to audiences, presenting great music in an entertaining and thoughtful way.
Born in Toronto, Alexander attended Royal St. George's College and studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science from McMaster University, and a Master's in Music from McGill University, where he studied choral conducting with Julian Wachner. Cann's conducting experience includes choral, orchestral, opera, and musical theatre. He was the founding director of Simply Sweetly (now Les Muses Chorales), a Montreal women's choir, and has held positions with The Shaw Festival and Tapestry Opera. Cann is currently Director of Music at Melrose United Church, as well as keyboardist for the Oakville Chamber Orchestra. He is also a secondary school teacher and freelances as an accompanist, clinician, and guest conductor. He lives in Dundas, Ontario.
A graduate of McMaster University and the University of Toronto, Krista Rhodes is an in-demand collaborative pianist renowned for her versatility, precision, and sensitivity. She works with many professional singers and instrumentalists, voice studios, choral groups, music festivals, opera companies, and theatre groups as well as being an active solo performer. She is on the composing staff for HARPO television productions and has had her music heard on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Krista is a respected music educator, vocal music program director, and adjudicator. In addition to her years teaching in the Hamilton-Wentworth school board, she actively collaborates with McMaster University and Redeemer University College, and operates Krista Rhodes Studios, teaching piano and theory. She has also worked with the Canadian Orpheus Male Choir and the world-renowned Hamilton Children’s Choir. Krista currently resides with her children, Charlotte and Adrian, and husband, Glen, in Stoney Creek, Ontario.
Kathryn Newell – Board Chair
Rein Karik – Secretary/Treasurer
Lynda Fraser - Choir Administrator