Toronto Mendelssohn Choir conductor Noel Edison accused of sexual misconduct
A news release from the choir expressed “feelings of shock and sadness” as Noel Edison is placed on a “personal leave of absence.”
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Noel Edison, the long-time conductor and artistic director of both the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Elora Festival Singers, was abruptly put on “personal leave” by both organizations following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
In a joint letter posted on the Mendelssohn Choir website on Thursday, senior officials of both organizations expressed “feelings of shock and sadness” and assured its audience that a third-party investigation into the allegations had already begun. It was co-signed by the Choir’s Board Chair Maureen Palmer, its executive director Cynthia Hawkins, and Elora Singers Director John Spearn.
Palmer, when reached by the Star, declined to comment further.
The allegations, brought by multiple male accusers, are said to have occurred over a number of years. They have not been proven in court.
According to the classical music blog Ludwig van Toronto, which broke the story, Edison had been accused of sexual misconduct several years ago, but no action was taken against him at the time.
Edison is the second prominent cultural leader in the city to face such allegations this year. Albert Schultz, the founding creative director of the Soulpepper Theatre Company, stepped down in January amid accusations of sexual harassment from several actresses who had worked with the company. He denied all allegations and vowed to fight them in court.
Edison, who lives in Elora, could not be reached for comment. A Grammy-nominated classical conductor, he was made a member of the Order of Ontario in 2009. The Mendelssohn Choir, founded in 1894, was nominated for a Grammy this year for best choral performance for its popular rendition, along with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, of Handel’s Messiah.
The choir has cancelled its upcoming concerts on March 6 and 7 while it searches for a guest conductor to fill in for Edison during his absence.