Chosen by A.S. Vogt to be his successor as conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Fricker emigrated to Canada in August 1917. His first appearance with the choir, 18 Feb 1918 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, initiated an association, 1918-25, which took both organizations across the US-Canadian border many times. Under Fricker's leadership the choir gave the Canadian premieres of Beethoven's Missa solemnis in 1927, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in 1936, and Berlioz' Requiem in 1938. Besides his Mendelssohn Choir duties, Fricker was organist-choirmaster 1917-43 at Metropolitan United Church, teacher of organ 1918-32 at the TCM, on staff at the University of Toronto, conductor 1922-34 of the Canadian National Exhibition Chorus, an active organ recitalist, an adjudicator at many competition festivals, and president 1925-6 of the CCO. He retired from the Mendelssohn Choir in 1942, conducting his favourite choral work, Bach's Mass in B Minor, at his farewell concert (23 February).
Contemporary comparisons of Vogt and Fricker as choir conductors are discreet and reveal little about either. The manner of Fricker's succession shows that the two men respected one another, and both seem to have been thought extraordinary leaders. Vogt's results perhaps had the edge in precision and clarity, Fricker's in breadth and warmth. This may reflect their repertoires as much as their dispositions, Vogt having founded the choir to perform the unaccompanied music of Mendelssohn and others and Fricker concerning himself from the outset with large choral-orchestral works. Fricker composed several organ works (Concert Overture, Fantasie Overture, Scherzo Symphonique, Cantilène Nuptiale, etc), edited others, and made many arrangements for organ. Publishers of these were Novello, Beal, Stuttard, Broadbent, Chester, and Houghton, all of London. His choral music, though mainly for church, included secular pieces and arrangements for the Mendelssohn Choir and the Exhibition Chorus. His choral publishers were Anglo-Canadian, Novello, and Whaley Royce. His Song of Thanksgiving, published by the Mendelssohn Choir, was performed by Albert Ham's National Chorus. His anthem 'Sleep, Holy Babe' and the Concert Overture for organ have been reprinted in CMH vols 9 and 4a. Fricker's extensive library of books and music (including manuscripts of his own works) was given, after his death, to the Toronto Public Library and became part of the holdings of the Metropolitan Toronto Music Library.
Author Ruth Pincoe
'Exhibition chorus gives musical inaugural at fair,' Toronto Daily Star, 31 Aug 1925
Campion-Smith, C. 'Dr. Herbert Austin Fricker,' MCan, vol 9, Sep 1928
Young, Scott. 'Conducted by Fricker,' Maclean's, 15 Jun 1942
Smith, Ocean G., compiler. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir: A History, 1894-1948 (Toronto 1948)
[McLean, Maud]. A Responsive Chord: The Story of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir 1894-1969 (Toronto 1969)
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