Skip to content

New music director leads Newmarket chamber choir into future

Robert Hennig leads the Tapestry Chamber Choir in its first concert of the year, called Coast to Coast to Coast, on June 1

Robert Hennig continues to see how each member of Tapestry Chamber Choir fits each piece of music, understanding and appreciating their strengths, as he takes over as the fifth music director in the choir’s history.

“It's an elusive little trip that we're taking because we have to find ways to bring different feelings to the different pieces,” said Hennig. “For example, we have a piece that's more like a march and is a big song and we need strong singers for that. But then.. we've got one that's a gentle prayer and for that one, we need to have people who can emote the feeling of the song, and bring that feeling of healing through music and that's important.”

Hennig is a choral, keyboard, and strings specialist. He has conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as Requiems by Puccini, Faure, and Rutter. He performed in Haydn Hall in the Esterhazy Palace in Vienna, at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and conducted a mass choir in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Stephen Harper, who has been a member of the choir for decades, said Hennig is a specialist in voice production. 

“He can lead us in terms of a homogeneous sound, that is lovely, when it needs to be lovely and tender, but also proud and forceful, what it needs to be,” said Harper. “He has the knowledge and background to be able to guide us in these specific ways. Vocal production is a real strength of his and that was something that we were impressed with in terms of the selection process. So there's demonstrated expertise in this area.”

Hennig is excited about the potential of the group and performing in front of the community next month. He recently gathered the group at St. Paul’s Anglican Church to rehearse musical notes. 

“The choir has had quite a history and a lot of people that sing in the choir have a lot of professional training,” said Hennig. “My job is to take that and build a team so that everyone contributes in an equal way and we end up with an artistic statement that we all agree on and we express the jewel of idea for each piece of music.” 

Hennig will conduct his first performance with the choir called Coast to Coast to Coast at the church on June 1. Tickets can be purchased online for $25 or $30 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. It will feature the choir and the Huron Heights Secondary School Chamber Choir. 

“It's going to be a celebration of the diversity of Canada and how lucky we are to live in Canada,” said Hennig. “That's the big thrust of the concert, just how fortunate we are to have all the freedoms and the life that we have here.”

Hennig is trying to get his group to envelope the music with human emotions and empathy, while considering the cultural background in each piece.

“We have some Indigenous-related music, and in order to perform that, you have to be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and investigate what that culture feels like and bring some of the similarities,” said Hennig.

Harper is happy to have Hennig leading the group in their performances. 

“I was the leader of the search committee that selected Mr. Hennig,” said Harper. “It was a unanimous decision that we would like him to move us into the future.”

Hennig finds the group is supportive of each other and a safe place for members. 

“This group is welcoming to people of all ages and all cultural backgrounds,” said Hennig. “That is something that I saw early on in the audition process. It is something I feel is a real touchstone for the community because people can come here and feel safe and I think that's not usual. Not a lot of social groups are like that but that is something I see as a strength of Tapestry.”

Hennig has also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and toured Wales with the Great Lakes' Touring Chorus and a men's choir in Wales, U.K.

Hennig won the Toronto Kopaz Foundation Award, the Canadian Opera Women’s Society award for excellence in music and the Brampton Arts Council Bloom Award, for best new composition for his Alleluia for Peace.

The choir continues to look for members as it plans to hold auditions in the future. For more information, visit, email [email protected], or call (905) 853-7186.