Christmas is just around the corner and we want to kickoff the season’s celebrations with you!
2020 has been a very different year for all of us. However, even during these challenging times, we continue to see our community rise up, reach out and connect like never before. We are so proud of how our communities have shown resilience and supported each other during these unprecedented times.
That’s why, we are honoured to share “Our Gift to You: MCC Toronto’s Christmas Season Kickoff”, a free online event featuring festive music and holiday fun to get you into the Christmas spirit! And it will all be live-streamed directly into your living room!
Our Music Director, Jason Jestadt, has invited a talented list of special guests including Thom Allison, Micah Barnes, Alana Bridgewater, Lady Anya Face, Jackie Richardson, Cailin Stadnyk, Julie Michels and George Koller who will be performing along with The B-Side, Pride & Joy, and the highly-acclaimed Choir of MCC Toronto. The mischievous Great Elfanini (Cory Bertrand) will be taking on MC duties, bringing humour and entertainment for all ages to enjoy.
Celebrate with us virtually by inviting your friends, family and neighbours to Our Gift to You: MCC Toronto’s Christmas Season Kickoff.
Date: Saturday, December 5, 2020
Time: 8 PM
Location: Online at MCC Toronto YouTube Channel
Set yourself a reminder here.
Join our Facebook Event here.
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Jason Jestadt is a Dora nominated music director who has worked on many musical theatre productions in Toronto from the Queen musical We Will Rock You, to conducting the current Toronto production of Come From Away. He is also the music director for acclaimed singer Colm Wilkinson, whom he accompanied on a recent tour to Japan. Jason’s choral music has been premiered by some of Canada’s finest choirs. In 2016, Jason won the Ruth Watson Henderson Award for his choral composition At Night The Valley Dreams of Snow, which sets Inuit poetry in the Inuktitut language.
Jason joined MCC Toronto as Music Director in October 2019.
George Koller is a producer, bassist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and promoter. He has accumulated hundreds of wildly diverse performing, touring and recording credits in his expansive musical career. He has performed/ toured/recorded with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Holly Cole, Phil Woods, The Shuffle Demons and Olivia Newton-John just to name a few.
George also plays a variety of instruments, many of them featured on his award-winning solo CD entitled Music for Plants, Animals and Humans. He also has solo recordings on the Solitudes/Avalon/Reflections labels and has performed as bassist/producer credits on over 1500 CDs.
George was presented with the 2007 National Jazz Award for Bassist of the Year.
Jackie Richardson is one of Canada’s foremost singers of gospel, blues and jazz on stage and on screen. She has received the Canadian Black Achievement Award and the Toronto Blues Society Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been nominated for Dora, Juno, Jessie, Betty, Gemini and NAACP Awards. In 2011, she received a Gemini for her work in The Gospel According to the Blues. Jackie has shared the stage with countless great musicians, including Salome Bey, Celine Dion, Maureen Forrester, Oliver Jones, Anne Murray and Mavis Staples.
Micah Barnes cut his teeth in the cabarets and jazz clubs of Toronto while still a teenager, before joining The Nylons in 1989 – introducing his rich, soulful baritone voice to music fans around the world. Post-Nylons, Micah has had a busy solo career touring across the U.S.A. and Canada. His latest album, Vegas Breeze, features songs first recorded by Tony Bennet, Nat King Cole, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee and Lena Horne. Micah is also a highly respected vocal coach and counts Emmy Award-winning actress Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) among his many clients.
Thom Allison made his Broadway debut in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and since then has starred in concerts, theatre productions, films and TV. Among his many stage credits are Miss Saigon, The Who’s Tommy and Rent. He has been nominated for Dora, Betty, Jessie, and Ovation and Sterling Awards. His film credits include Last Dance and Road to Christmas. He was a judge on CBC’s 2010 series Over the Rainbow and has also appeared in Kim’s Convenience and Murdoch Mysteries. His CD, A Whole Lotta Sunlight is available now.
Alana Bridgewater is a Toronto actor and singer, best known for her role as Killer Queen in Mirvish’s We Will Rock You. Her film and TV credits include Hannibal, Dino Dan, Lost Girl and Mysticons and she is the voice of Mr. King Dice in the hit video game “Cuphead.” Alana received a Gemini nomination for CBC’s Gospel Christmas, has sung backup vocals on tour for Johnny Reid, and performed in the Toronto Blues Society’s “Women’s Blues Revue.” In 2020, Alana will be recording her second album.
Cailin Stadnyk is a singer, actor, dancer and motion capture performer who is currently with the company of hit musical Come From Away. She has starred in productions for many of Canada’s top theatre companies, garnering multiple Ovation and Jessie Award nominations. She received an Ovation Award for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the hit musical Funny Girl (Arts Club Theatre).
Lady Anya Face is the live singing drag queen creation of entertainer Donnie Corbett. Donnie spent many years touring the world as a Guest Entertainer/ Lead Vocalist for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Princess Cruise Lines. Donnie has worked alongside entertainment greats such as Ben Vereen, CHARO, Michael Burgess, Susan Gilmore, and The Palm Cabaretsvery own Miss Conception.
Lady Anya Face is a drag queen, housewife, shut-in, cat owner, and snow shoveler. Bawdy, chanteuse and childless kept wom-an, who followed love from cosmopolitan Toronto to her bucolic country life in secluded Manitoulin Island in The Northern Wilds of Canada. She commands any stage from live singing opera to rock, lounge to Broadway, as well as lip-syncing comedy mixes. Some of her performing credits include Les Miserables, Aladdin, Forever Plaid, Cabaret, Into the Woods and many more.
Julie Michels is a singer, composer and coach. She has performed in jazz clubs and festivals internationally and domestically from the Glasgow Music Festival to the Toronto Jazz Festival and many in between. She has performed, toured, and recorded with top artists in several genres of the music business including the Chicago Free Jazz Movement; Don Braden; Joe Sealy; Broadsway, a collaboration with Diane Leah and Heather Bambrick and more.
Her recording projects include Come Together; Bass and Voice; Singing Naked; She Sings He Plays; Live at Statlers; Old Friends; and The Most Wonderful Time (maybe). She has also recorded the title track of the Grammy-nominated Smile.
Julie has collaborated with many shows, events, camps and TV and is currently in pre-production of her new solo recording, reimagining the music of Lyle Lovett, with Grammy-nominated producer Mark Ruffin.
The Great Elfanini / Cory Bertrand, known for playing quirky characters, has performed in Fringe Festivals across Canada. He can be seen in CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, haunting Andie MacDowell in the thriller The Last Sign, as well as many short films. He is the star and creator behind the wacky comedic web series, Roommate Roulette, soon to be released on his YouTube Channel. Cory works as Event Coordinator at MCC Toronto, where he also annually entertains as the egotistical elf, The Great Elfanini. If you’re lucky enough to meet Elfanini, he may let you reach into his sack and grab a treat!
The Choir of MCC Toronto boasts an eclectic combination of singers whose love of music brings them together every week for rehearsals, Worship Services and for annual special events including Pride, Christmas with the Choir and Christmas Eve Service at Roy Thomson Hall. Under the leadership of Music Director Jason Jestadt, The Choir is an integral part of MCC Toronto and a popular community mainstay. The Choir has been featured performers at The Olympic Torch Relay, World Pride Opening Ceremony and the Celebration of Life for Jack Layton, among many others. The Choir of MCC Toronto has recorded 3 CDs: House of Love (featuring Louise Pitre); The Choir: Connected (with Thom Allison, Alana Bridgewater and Julie Michels) and These Old Walls (featuring Stephanie Martin). All are available now.
Pride & Joy is an intimate group of talented singers who formed in 2002 after meeting through The Choir of MCC Toronto. Although the membership has changed over the years, what has remained constant is their desire to make beautiful music together and to be a joyful, healing presence for others through song. Pride & Joy are popular performers at weddings, memorial services, and other community gatherings.
The B-Side, a.k.a Bill, Eric, Mark, and David, have been singing together since 2016 after having sung together as part of The Choir of MCC Toronto for over 15 years. They are masters of four-part harmony and especially enjoy the challenges of barbershop singing. The group has performed at MCC Toronto Worship Services, special events and are favourites for singing Valentines.