Grammy-nominated choir conductor on leave over sexual misconduct allegations

The longtime conductor of two choirs in Ontario has been placed on a leave of absence following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Noel Edison, 59, is with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Elora Singers, and also artistic director of the Elora Festival.

“Last night, we became aware of a media report that makes reference to allegations of sexual misconduct against Noel Edison,” said a joint statement from senior officials of both organizations on Thursday evening.

‘Shock and sadness’

“News of these allegations may have elicited in you, as it has in us, feelings of shock and sadness.”

The statement was co-signed by Mendelssohn Choir board chair Maureen Palmer and executive director Cynthia Hawkins, and Elora Singers director John Spearn.

Noel Edison

Edison was named to the Order of Ontario in 2009. (Sophie Hogan/The Elora Singers)

Reports earlier this week say the allegations, which have not been tested in court, were brought forth by a number of male complainants and are said to have occurred over a number of years. 

Edison was placed on a personal leave of absence after both organizations received letters of complaint, the letter said. It did not say when they received the letters or from whom. 

The organizations said they promptly launched an independent investigation that is now underway.

Grammy nominated conductor

A native of Toronto, Edison moved to Elora, where, in 1979, he co-founded the Elora Festival and, a year later, the Elora Festival Singers. In 2009, he was made a member of the Order of Ontario, and in 2018 was nominated for a Grammy for a collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 

This isn’t the first such incident in the Canadian arts community.

Two months ago, Albert Schultz, the co-founder of the Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company, stepped down after four women filed civil lawsuits against him, accusing him of sexual battery and harassment over a 13-year period.

Schultz resigned days later, but said he will “continue to vigorously defend myself against the allegations.”

The Toronto choir has cancelled its upcoming concerts set for Tuesday and Wednesday while it looks for a conductor.

The concert featuring the Elora Singers on March 11 in Guelph, Ont., will go on with a guest conductor.

Both organizations said they will not make public comments until the investigation is completed to “ensure the utmost integrity of this investigation.”


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