‘Peace and love and joy’: The Tenors bring surprise Yuletide treat to the annual Toronto Star Christmas Carol Concert


Three men — wise in the ways of melody and harmony — travelled from far to bestow their gifts of music to a surprised and grateful audience at the Toronto Star’s 41st annual Christmas Carol Concert.

The award-winning Canadian trio, The Tenors — Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters and Clifton Murray —- took a break from their Wonders of Christmas tour to perform at the annual concert in support of The Star Santa Claus Fund, which hopes to raise $1.7 million to provide 45,000 children across the GTA with a gift box this season.

“(The concert) is really quite an extraordinary tradition. And boy, do we have a surprise for you today,” teased Torstar chair John Honderich before introducing the trio, who performed the venerable classic “O Holy Night” and one of their own compositions, “Santa’s Wish,” bringing audiences at both the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. shows to their feet.

Micaleff, a Toronto native, said Christmas music fits well within the group’s repertoire.

“Tenors have a good time singing Christmas music because a lot of the music was actually written for higher voices. We all grew up singing in our respective churches and now we get to do it together in harmonies, which is a beautiful thing. So many different composers have written brilliant pieces of music and we get to share it with everybody,” Micallef said.

The Tenors perform Saturday at St. Paul’s Bloor Street, as a surprise for those in attendance at the Star’s annual Christmas Carol Concert.

Walters, a B.C. native, said performing Christmas music creates “a very special energy exchange between performer and audience at this time of year.”

“Lyrically the themes (of Christmas music) speak about peace and love and joy. So it’s really an inspirational time of year to be sharing music, to be sharing harmonies. And there’s so many smiles from the audience,” Walters said.

Murray, also from B.C., said the music evokes fond memories of childhood for almost everyone.

“It’s the time of year and the style of music – musically, lyrically, melodically – that brings a lot of people together no matter where you come from. And whenever we hear those magical songs, we’re taken back to those early memories with our families and I think that’s what warms the heart most,” Murray said.

Singer/songwriter Martina Ortiz-Luis, the official anthem singer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, did a solo performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

And as always, there were many great ensemble performances from the Canadian Staff Band of The Salvation Army, the St. Paul’s Bloor Street Church Choir, the St. Peter’s Anglican Choir from Mississauga, the All Saints’ Anglican Church Choir from Peterborough, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church Choir, the St. Jude’s Anglican Church Choir from Oakville, the St. Giles Kingsway Presbyterian Church Choir and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company.

Members of the Canadian Children's Opera Company conducted by Lynn James sing along at The Toronto Star Christmas Concert at St. Paul's Church on Bloor to benefit the Toronto Star Santa Fund in Toronto on December 7, 2019.

Denise Pearson, 60, and Pat Frank, 76, were once again at the front of the line for the 3 p.m. show, a place they first met years before.

“I always think of my own experience as a child. I had wonderful Christmases. So for me, it’s a special time. It’s the music, it’s the carols, it’s just the sentiment of the whole service. It’s just a really lovely thing to do,” Pearson said.

Frank calls her annual pilgrimage to the concert “the beginning of Christmas.”

“I would be lost if I wasn’t here because it means so much. Spiritually, it does a great deal for both my husband and I. It just makes you feel good. It’s a pity you couldn’t put it in a bottle and sell it because it just gives you the spirit (of Christmas),” Frank said.

Sching Ng, 45, originally from Singapore, came for the first time with her daughter and some friends.

Martina Ortiz-Luis was a surprise performer at The Toronto Star Christmas Concert at St. Paul's Church on Bloor to benefit the Toronto Star Santa Fund in Toronto on December 7, 2019.

“We already started listening to the Christmas music channel on the radio since November,” said Ng, adding the songs help her “get into the spirit.”

Michael Metcalf, 32, brought along friend and first-timer Graham Hogg, 32.

“I come every year. My dad played in the Salvation Army band,” Metcalf said.

“It’s the only place I get to hear the old carols and you can sing as loud as you want. It’s a good cause too,” Metcalf said.

“I’m just superexcited,” Hogg piped in.

Kathy O’Regan, 62, who lives in Durham Region, brought along friends Michelle Vis, 54 and Jennifer Legree, 61, from her hiking club.

“It’s absolutely wonderful. It gives me shivers and I knew my friends would love it,” O’Regan said.





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