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Menno Singers

Classification scheme: 
XV-8.1

Title: Menno Singers fonds

Dates of creation: 1955-2016
Note: Further accruals are expected

Physical description: 80 cm of textual records

Administrative history:  Menno Singers, a non-professional community choir, gave its first performance in December 1955. It was founded by Abner Martin, then 20 years old. It provided a vehicle for recent Rockway Mennonite School graduates to continue to sing high quality choral music. In time non-Mennonite choristers also participated in Menno Singers. Menno Singers has continued to the present.

Menno Singers established an association with Conrad Grebel College in 1974; this extended into the 1980s. In 1975 Menno Singers began to apply for grants from Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council, and later from other foundations. It has produced two recordings – Rachmaninoff’s Vespers in 1992, and See Amid the Winter’s Snow in 2000.

Menno Singers established an Abner Martin Music Scholarship after Martin’s retirement as director. The first award was made in 1981. The annual scholarship is given to deserving Mennonite music students.

Mennonite Mass Choir, sponsored by Menno Singers, began in 1974, and provided opportunities for amateur singers to perform major choral works with professional soloists and orchestra. While participants were not auditioned, they needed to be able to read music and attend regular regional rehearsals. Initially held annually, mass choir events became more occasional in the 2000s.

In the 2000s Menno Singers cooperated closely with the Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir (founded in 1965 by Helen Martens at Conrad Grebel College) and the Menno Youth Singers (founded in 2004 by Judith Bean). Together became known as the Menno Singers family of choirs.

Menno Singers directors include Abner Martin (1955-1969, 1973-1979); Jan Overduin (1969-1973, 1979-1984); William Janzen (1984-1987, 1988-1995); Leonard Enns (Interim)(1987-1988); Robert Shuh (Interim, 1995-1997); Wayne Gilpin (1997); Peter Nikiforuk (1998-present). William Janzen and Robert Shantz also filled in on several occasions when Abner Martin was unable to direct because of illness.

Custodial history: The vast majority of the fonds was donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario by the executive of Menno Singers in 2015. A small collection of Menno Singers programs of unknown provenance previously existed. Some supplemental material was donated by Lewis Brubacher in March 2016.

Scope and content: The fonds consists of seven series: 1) Concert year records (by year); 2) Mass choir records; 3) Abner Martin Scholarship records; 4) Miscellaneous records; 5) Realia; 6) Director search records (restricted); 7) Event posters (housed in oversize map case) and 8) Recordings

Notes: For photographs related to Menno Singers search the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
Sound recordings related to Menno Singers can be found Series 8: Recordings, and the Milton Good Library.
For Menno Singers: Celebrating 50 Years of Song by Betti Burkholder Erb search the Milton Good library. 
Further materials related to Menno Singers may be found by searching the Archives.
Original archival description created 2016 by Sam Steiner.

File list:

Series 1: Concert year records

Scope and content: This series contains records arranged by Menno Singers by concert year. Files include programs, minutes, correspondence, financial records, chorister lists, and clippings.

Item list for concert year records, 1972/1973-1989/1990
Note: This item list was prepared by Menno Singers.

Undated: Three undated programs from 1950s or 1960s

1955/56: First program from Dec 1955, as well as “pre-Menno Singers” program from May 1955

1958/59: Two programs dated 1958 in pencil

1959/60: Two programs, one dated 1959 in pencil, second from Apr 1960

1960/61: Letter from Abner Martin to choristers, 5 Sep 1960

1961/62: Two programs, two clippings

1962/63: One program, two letters to pastors announcing events

1963/64: One letter to pastors, one letter to Menno Singers choristers from Abner Martin

1964/65: Two programs, one letter to pastors, one typescript press release, correspondence re: Menno Singers workshop with Thomas Pyle and Alice Parker (Mar-May, 1965), four clippings

1965/66: Two programs, announcement of “Festival of the Arts” (1966), clipping

1966/67: Two programs, one letter to Menno Singers choristers, one clipping

1967/68: One program, one letter to Menno Singers choristers, one clipping

1968/69: Two programs, four clippings, including one reporting Abner Martin’s resignation

1969/70: Two programs, financial statement for 1969, one clipping

1970/71: Financial statement for 1970/71

1971/72: Four programs; one typescript press release about upcoming program; correspondence, costume instructions, choir and cast lists for Martyrs’ Mirror: a historical drama, and three cllippings

1972/73: Four programs, two clippings

1973/74: Three programs, correspondence (including relationship to Conrad Grebel College), list of choristers, financial statements, meeting minutes, seven clippings

1974/75: Three programs, correspondence, minutes, financial reports, annual report to Conrad Grebel, three clippings

1975/76: Two programs, correspondence, minutes, annual report to Conrad Grebel, list of choristers, four clippings

1976/77: Two programs, correspondence, minutes, financial statement, list of choristers, document of understanding with Conrad Grebel College, four clippings

1977/78: Three programs, list of choristers, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, annual report, six clippings

1978/79: Two programs, Canada Council grant request, correspondence, minutes, annual report, six clippings

1979/80: Two programs, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, Canada Council grant application, annual report, area arts council materials, three clippings

1980/81: Three programs, correspondence, minutes, folder from Centre in Square grand opening, five clippings

1981/82: Five programs, list of choristers, correspondence, minutes, annual report, four clippings

1982/83: Four programs, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, eight clippings

1983/84: Three programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statement, six clippings

1984/85: Three programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statement, two clippings

1985/86: Five programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, ten or more clippings

1986/87: Four programs, correspondence, minutes, eight clippings

1987/88: Four programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statement, three clippings

1988/89: Four programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, one clipping

1989/90: Four programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statement, two clippings

1990/91: Five programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, two clippings

1991/92: Season schedule, five programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, three clippings

1992/93: Four programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, nine clippings

1993/94: Three programs, correspondence, minutes, financial statements, four clippings

1994/95: Season schedule, five programs, correspondence, minutes, two clippings

1995/96: Four programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, three clippings

1996/97: Three programs, chorister list, correspondence, six clippings

1997/98: Season schedule, four programs, chorister list, “Agenda & organization, 1997-1998” (spiral-bound volume) by Wayne Gilpin, correspondence, financial statements, ten or more clippings

1998/99: Season schedule, six programs, chorister list, correspondence, four clippings

1999/2000: Season schedule, five programs, correspondence, three clippings

2000/01: Season schedule, five programs, chorister list, correspondence, financial records, one clipping

2001/02: Season schedule, Five programs, chorister list, correspondence, nine clippings

2002/03: Season schedule, five programs, correspondence, fund-raising materials, Inter-Mennonite Children’s choir materials, eight clippings

2003/04: Season schedule, three programs, Inter-Mennonite Children’s choir handbook, correspondence, minutes, two clippings

2004/05: Season schedule, five programs, chorister list, correspondence, minutes, eight clippings

2005/06: Season schedule, four programs, chorister list, minutes, financial statements

2006/07: Season schedule, eight programs, chorister list, minutes

2007-2015: An assortment of programs and clippings from 2007-2015

2015/2016: Four concert programs

2016/2017: Four programs, four posters, news clippings, Peter Nikiforuk's last concert

2017/2018: Programs, posters and news clippings

Series 2: Mass Choir performances

1974 (I): (Handel’s Messiah) Program, chorister lists, correspondence, contracts, clippings

1975: (II): (Haydn’s The Creation) Program, chorister lists, correspondence, financial statement, clippings

1976 (III): (Brahms’ Requiem) Program, chorister lists, correspondence, grant application, contracts, clippings

1977 (IV): (Mendelssohn’s Elijah) Program, grant application, chorister lists, clippings

1978 (V): (Handel & Vaughan Williams) Program, correspondence, chorister lists, contract, clippings

1979 (VI): (Handel’s Israel in Egypt) Program, correspondence, chorister lists, contract, clippings

1980 (VII): (Mendelssohn’s St. Paul) Program, correspondence, chorister list, clippings

1981 (VIII): (Handel’s Saul) Program, correspondence, clippings

1982 (IX): (Haydn’s Te Deum) Program, correspondence, contract, clippings

1983 (X): (Handel’s Messiah) Program, Program, correspondence, minutes, clippings

1984 (XI): (Schubert’s Mass in A Flat) Program, correspondence, clipping

1986 (XII): (Handel’s Messiah) Program, correspondence, contracts, clippings

1987 (XIII): (Spirit of Christmas) Program, correspondence, contract, clippings

1988 (XIV): (Mendelssohn’s Elijah) Program, correspondence, contract, clippings

1989 (XV): (Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise) Program, correspondence, contracts, clippings

1990 (XVI): (Verdi’s Requiem) Program, correspondence, contracts, clippings

1991: (Handel’s Messiah) Program, contracts, clippings

1993: (Haydn’s Creation) Program, contracts, correspondence, clippings

1994: (Handel’s Messiah) Program, contracts, chorister list, correspondence, clippings

1996: (Vaughan Williams’  Dona Nobis Pacem) Correspondence, contracts, clipping

1997: (Handel’s Messiah) Program

2000: (Handel’s Messiah) Program, correspondence, clippings

2003: (Mendelssohn’s Elijah) Program

2004: (Handel’s Messiah) Program, correspondence

Series 3: Abner Martin Scholarship

  1. List of scholarship winners, 1981-2002; blank application forms, successful application (1983), clippings

Series 4: Miscellaneous

4.1 Chorister register and executive minute book
Chorister attendance records, 1963-1973; minutes, 1968/69-1974

4.2 Menno Singers: Celebrating 50 Years of Song by Betti Burkholder Erb, 2004 (2 copies); early draft of some chapters, correspondence, clippings

4.3 Music Library circulation register, 1992-2010

4.4 Trillium Foundation Grant, 2001-2005

4.5 Non-Menno Singers programs (1953, 1967, 1972, 1985)

Series 5: Realia

Baton used by William Janzen in directing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in July 1986

Series 6: Director Searches (Restricted)

Series 7: Concert Posters (in map case)

Undated; 1960s-2016  (not complete)

Series 8: Recordings

Scope and content: This series contains live recordings of Menno Singers concerts, and albums produced by Menno Singers. Additional recordings are listed in the catalogue of the Milton Good Library.

  1. Messiah, 3 Dec 1983 (2 cassette tapes)
  2. See Amid the Winter's Snow, 2000 (1 compact disc)
  3. Messiah, 15-16 Dec 2000 (4 DAT tapes)
  4. Honegger - King David, 27 Oct 2001 (1 compact disc)
  5. Elijah, Apr 2003 (4 compact discs)
  6. Elijah, 25-26 Apr 2003 (4 DAT tapes)
  7. Menno Singers and Vesnivka Choir, 2 Nov 2003 (1 compact disc)
  8. Menno Singers with Pax Christi Chorale, 23 Apr 2004 (2 compact discs)
  9. Pax Christi Chorale, Grant Us Peace, 24 Apr 2004 (1 compact disc)
  10. Messiah, 3 Dec 2004 (2 compact discs)
  11. Menno Singers and the Guelph Chamber Choir, 1 Apr 2005 (2 compact discs)
  12. Menno Singers Rejoicing - Marilyn Houser Hamm, 25 Oct 2008 (1 cassette tape)
  13. Menno Singers conducted by Peter Nikiforuk, [19--]
    1. Hymn to Nativity, R.J. King
    2. Have Ye Not Known, R. Thompson
    3. Une Vierge Fiunde, D. Patriquin
    4. Behold,  Mendelssohn

Hours

Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Making an appointment with the archivist in advance is strongly recommended.

Contact

Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238

Email: marchive@uwaterloo.ca