Schola Magdalena is dedicated to the performance of medieval music – from Gregorian chant to Hildegard of Bingen to the polyphonic masterpieces of Dufay – as well as modern music for women’s voices by Canadian composers.
The ensemble is directed by Stephanie Martin, professor of music at Toronto’s York University and former music director of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.
The group’s debut concert at the Church of St. Theresa, Ottawa, in July 2007 received a standing ovation. Many in the capacity audience were moved to tears by the group’s purity of tone and unanimity of ensemble.
From left to right: Janet Reid Nahabedian, MerryAnne Stuart, Kathryn Smith, Stephanie Martin, Jo-Ann Dawson, and Gillian Howard. February, 2015
The music of Hildegard is of particular interest today. Hildegard, a powerful abbess, mystic, biologist, writer, composer and healer, impressed European monarchs and popes with her visions and mystic writings. Her music, though related to Gregorian chant, takes the genre to a virtuosic height.
Schola Magdalena has appeared as part of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, as well as in concert at Wilfrid Laurier University Chapel, Waterloo, Ontario, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, the Convent of the Sisters of St. John the Divine, Toronto, Église St-Viateur in Montreal, and the cathedral in Chicoutimi.
In May 2009, the group released its first CD, entitled “O gracious light.”
In July 2010, the ensemble filmed a music video for BRAVO! featuring “Alleluia,” a composition by Stephanie Martin, from “O Gracious Light.” The piece is also the title track on the 2010 CD of sacred choral works by Stephanie Martin. Two of Stephanie’s masses for women’s voices feature Schola Magdalena and friends. For details, click here or visit CD Baby.
Virgo splendens, the ensemble’s second recording, was launched in September 2011. In October 2011, the singers appeared in Barrie, Ontario, as part of the annual Colours of Music festival. In 2017, Schola Magdalena made their American debut at the Church of St. John Cantius, Chicago.