From Mark Vuorinen, President of the Choirs Ontario Board of Directors:
It is a great pleasure for me to recognize two individuals whose impact on choral music in Ontario has been both broad and very deep.
The President’s Leadership Award of Choirs Ontario recognizes individuals who, through their support or engagement in choral music-making, have made an exceptional contribution to the promotion and advancement of choral music in their communities.
The recipients of this year’s award have been supporting choral music in this province, across the country, and around the world for decades. They have demonstrated their commitment to and passion for choral music as volunteers, board members, philanthropists, Honorary Patrons and audience members as they have assisted choirs and choral organizations and encouraged conductors to fulfill a vision for choral excellence and creative transcendence.
The recipients of the 2019 President’s Leadership Award are Frieda and Vern Heinrichs.
They are Honorary Patrons of both the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Amadeus Choir, among many other groups.
As the jury for this award met, we encountered overwhelming support from the choral community for the Heinrichs’ nomination through many letters of nomination. To understand the breadth and depth of the Heinrichs’ rich contribution to the choral landscape of this province is to sample from the many extraordinary letters of nomination and support. I quote:
Vern and Elfrieda Heinrichs truly love the choral art form. They are there for advice, wisdom, and support of all kinds. They put all this into action every day of their lives. In their quiet way, they lift us up and lead us to a higher place, inspiring those whose lives they have touched to seek excellence in all that they do.
When our valued art form is continually experiencing the uphill struggle of funding, the Heinrichs’ engagement has brought an essential legitimacy to the support of choral music, influencing many others to do likewise. Their rich Mennonite heritage has been an immense influence in their philanthropy, which they demonstrate with modesty, humility and great passion and enthusiasm.
Vern and Frieda were instrumental through the Heinrichs Foundation in endowing the Elmer Iseler Chair in Choral Conducting and the Elmer Iseler National Graduate Fellowships in Choral Conducting at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. Their commitment to the importance of educating and exposing both current and future generations to excellence in choral music is evident in these and other endeavours.
Vern and Elfrieda are passionate about choral music, and they understand what a profound impact it can have on singers and audiences. They show their love and support for the choral community by their steady attendance at concerts, festivals and choral events of all levels in Toronto, Guelph, and throughout Canada and the US.
This very kind, compassionate couple has made an avocation of supporting choral music, and we in Canada have benefitted from their expertise and generosity. I can think of no better recipients for Choirs Ontario’s President’s Leadership Award.
Their kindnesses to musicians, their warm hospitality, their presence at so many events in the community, and their additional efforts behind-the-scenes to support the choral art are more than worthy of recognition from Choirs Ontario. In fact, I would say we are overdue in granting them this honour.
Please join me in recognizing and thanking Elfrieda and Vern Heinrichs for their transformational contribution to the choral music.