Where Oh Where has Bondy gone?

Mitch Bondy & Northlea ChoirAfter 32 years of teaching (30 of them at Northlea School), I am now living through a year of transition to a new phase of life. My life is still focused on music—but in a different way.

I have always loved adjudicating, but it was a particular joy this year to be asked to adjudicate at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Non-Competitive Choral Music Festival.

I had the easy job. I didn’t have to worry about marks, which freed me to focus completely on watching children who were totally absorbed in the process of making music.

I will always be fascinated to watch the way teachers communicate with their singers, who then communicate to the audience. And it was the children who gave the most perceptive and accurate feedback about the performances. Some of them are very discriminating listeners for such a young age.

Meanwhile, since the fall, I have been trying out life as a supply teacher, teaching music, French immersion, lots of kindergarten and even phys ed. It’s been very rewarding to connect with children from so many different schools, including Northlea!

In early June, I will also return to conduct the choir at Music by the Lake, a TDSB music camp for students in grades 6, 7 and 8.

After being on the other side of the baton, one of my greatest musical joys has been to join a choir myself.

I was nervous in January, when I went for my audition with the Amadeus Choir, but somehow the conductor, Lydia Adams, let me in. Three weeks later I found myself at Roy Thomson Hall, singing Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Toronto Symphony.

The Amadeus Choir performs several concerts each year, so there is a lot of new repertoire to learn. This spring, we performed a newly commissioned work by Winnipeg composer, Sid Robinovitch, and we’ll be recording it in June.

I have also been singing with the choir at Fairlawn Avenue United Church under the direction of Eleanor Daley. Over the years, our Northlea Junior Choir had performed many of Eleanor’s songs for children, and now I have a chance to sing her beautiful adult repertoire. I have learned so much from both Eleanor and Lydia—they’re not only gifted musicians, but also wonderful people.

Being retired has reminded me that making music is a lifelong journey, and it’s been interesting to find new ways to grow as a musician.

These days, I’m more than happy to soak up the incredible talent that’s all around me—from the teachers and choristers at the music festival, to the choral singers and conductors at choir. Maybe someday I’ll even go back to the piano.