The Choir’s Story
A Story of Love and Passion
It all began with a deep love for music. Augustin Medan was feeling the emptiness. Something was missing: that activity done with the feeling of fulfilling a mission or a vocation. He had started it during his university years, continued it in his native Romania until he went into exile, and then only sporadically. Now it seemed to obsess him, it just wouldn’t leave him alone.
Giving in to his wife’s nagging – or so he says – and then listening to some of his friends, Mr. Augustin Medan went to his soul’s hidden drawer to find his conductor baton. In a month and a half he managed to put together a vocal ensemble to present some beloved Romanian Christmas carols at the Romanian St. John the Evangelist parish in Toronto. It was on December 21st, 2001. It was a big surprise. When you are away from home, that’s what’s missing most at Christmas time: the carols you grew up with. Hearing them again, possibly after many years, feels wonderful. The audience was very enthusiastic.
A few months passed until Mr. Medan decided to build upon the foundation he had laid. He realized that the Romanian community needed a choir to bring together talented and dedicated people, who have some music knowledge and especially choir singing experience, and who want to keep the Romanian music alive. The choir grew larger and, after months of serious preparation, gave its first official concert in December 2002 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Toronto. The audience sang along, cheered for a long time, and many people had tears on their cheeks.
Mr. Medan then realized that only one annual Christmas concert is not enough. There are so many other Romanian music treasures which had to be kept alive in the community, so the weekly rehearsals continued. The first thing that the director thought of was a concert to honour Romania’s national poet, Mihai Eminescu. Eminescu had brought to the Romanian literature a true Romantic flavour and ideas from the 18th and 19th century German Philosophy, which he blended with the Romanian folklore.
Considering that Romantic poetry has always expressed a longing for home (whatever ‘home’ meant) and a longing for what is far off, the concert to honour Eminescu was loaded with meaning for singers and the passionate audience alike. It was on June 14th, 2003 – and it was the eve of Eminescu’s death anniversary. It was the first concert the choir gave after it had chosen the name Armonia, and it was the result of many hours of hard work. It included exceptionally beautiful pieces of music, most on Eminescu’s lyrics, many very difficult, a few interpreted for the first time in North-America. The audience was very moved, there were tears in their eyes.
Many other concerts followed, all prepared with great effort, dedication and passion.
The choir includes Romanians of various ages, different professions and religious backgrounds. What they all have in common is their love for music and for Romanian traditions, as well as the willingness to make a great effort to keep them alive in this community. It’s not at all easy after a whole week of work or study to rush to a rehearsal every Friday night, never to miss one, so you can keep up with everyone else. Discipline was and continues to be instrumental, and the conductor insisted that it be respected. The choir’s repertoire is now very rich and diverse – it’s the result of these singers’ hard work, of their passion and dedication, and of their families’ great understanding.
We hope that what we do will continue to be appreciated. And we are grateful to all those who love us and believe in us, who often accompany us on our musical adventure and share our passionate love for choral music.