Mervin formed the ESPRIT Chamber Choir in 2010 as an adult SATB choir academy for intense study of ‘a capella’ ensemble skills and period performance techniques. Under his diligent guidance, choristers have gained a depth and range of interpretive skills in period performance practice of early music repertoire.
During its formative years ESPRIT entered the Ontario Music Festival Association competitions and was awarded first prize at the Peel Music Festival in April 2012. The chamber choir was also the proud recipient of the Hon. Barbara A. Hagerman Award for first place at the 2012 Ontario Provincial Music Festival, and was honoured to have been awarded second place in the Barbara Hagerman Class at the 2012 National Music Festival. While the competitive experience was fulfilling, Mervin redirected the focus to performance opportunities in historic venues with acoustics complimentary to a capella repertoire. In order to accomplish this, ESPRIT became a ‘touring ensemble’.
ESPRIT began it’s touring adventures in Montreal, Québec, with the highlight being performing as the choral ensemble for Sunday Mass at Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral. In the following year, ESPRIT was engaged as the ‘choir in residence’ at the New France Festival – Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France in Quebec City, delighting its audiences with early sacred music and French Renaissance Chansons. ESPRIT was thrilled to have been invited to participate in the Under the Pines Music Festival in Norway Bay, Quebec in July 2013, and again on July 20, 2015 for performances of Houdy’s La Messe Quebecoise (with folk fiddle and percussion spoons).
Mervin inspired ESPRIT to set its sights further afield, leading to its first European tour with performances in London, Bruges, Ghent, Ypres, Amsterdam and Haarlem. During that tour, ESPRIT was honoured to have been selected to sing at the Ghent Festival, as well as The Last Post Ceremony in Ypres.
In 2018, ESPRIT travelled to Italy, performing in Rome, Florence and Tuscany, and Venice. Highlights of this tour included singing Mass at St Peter’s and Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, Rome and St Mark’s Basilica, Venice.