Q&A with Dr. Jamie Hillman

Dr. Jamie Hillman

Jamie Hillman

Choir Director, Community Chamber Choir

What can singers expect from the Chamber Choir experience? 

Singers can expect an immersive experience in choral music. TSM will have you living and breathing choral music all day for the week. We’ll learn and perform a wide range of repertoire including Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore, settings of the Ubi caritas text by Maurice Duruflé and by American composer Dan Forrest. Forrest’s setting is hot off the press! We’ll contrast this repertoire with classic spiritual arrangements for unaccompanied choir by William Dawson, revered Black American composer, choral conductor, professor, director, and musicologist. Finally, we’ll stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine by singing two prayers for that country and its brave people. 

My goal is efficiency in rehearsals – to make as much progress as we can in the time that we have. I work to keep all singers involved in the repertoire learning process 100% of the time. If I’m working with the altos, for instance, I will give a task to the sopranos, tenors, and basses so that all voices (and brains!) are engaged. I believe that the process is just as important as the product (the concert). I believe in finding joy in the process. Laughter is important. Knowing the people with whom we are singing and being known by them are also important. I’ve been told that my rehearsal approach is positive. 

I’m thrilled that we will have four section leaders assisting us in rehearsal and providing coaching for choir members. Our section leaders are among the best young singers in the city. They’re also great people! 

What does community mean to you?

Community is when everyone belongs and everyone’s contribution is valued. To me, there’s no better example of community than a choir. You’ll hear me say that basses are the foundation of the choir. While I believe this to be true, a bass line alone doesn’t make a choral piece. All voice parts are needed for harmony to exist. 

What is your INSPIRATIONS?

As a musical artist, I look for inspiration everywhere. I’m greatly inspired by my students. Seeing (and hearing!) their enormous potential makes me strive to be the best conductor, teacher, and example that I can be. 

I am inspired by attending choral concerts. There’s no better city than Toronto for hearing outstanding choral music any night of the week. You, as an audience member, are sitting in the venue waiting for the concert to start. You feel a sense of anticipation as you wait for the concert to begin and as the choir enters. Through the music you are transported to different time periods, continents, and situations. You are deeply engaged musically, cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually. 

What would you say to singers who are hesitant to apply?

Apply! You won’t regret it. After almost two years of silence, we are returning and are doing so with renewed INSPIRATION and commitment. If you feel like you are “out of shape,” come anyway. You’ll be back to making your best sounds in no time. Old and new friends who share your love of choral music are waiting to greet you and to welcome you to the team. 

Learn more about Jamie here.
Learn more about the Community Program here.