Ontario Arts Council announcement
Operatic baritone Russell Braun has received the Oskar Morawetz Award for Excellence in Music Performance. This prize honours the legacy of Oskar Morawetz, one of Canada’s leading composers of contemporary music, whose career spanned more than 50 years. It is presented biennially to an outstanding Canadian performer in the field of classical music, recognizing talent and commitment to Canadian music.
Russell was selected for this award by a jury of music professionals convened by the Ontario Arts Council. The jury, which was unanimous in its decision, stated: “Russell’s powerful voice and strong stage presence have made him a highly sought-after artist by the world’s major opera companies. Along with his stellar international reputation, he also makes it a point to maintain his commitment and connection to Canadian music and composers – including Oskar Morawetz.”
The award presentation took place on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, following that evening’s performance of the Canadian Opera Company’s Hansel & Gretel, in which he is performing the role of Peter. The award was co-presented by Claudia Morawetz, daughter of Oskar Morawetz, and Judith Gelber, vice-chair of the Ontario Arts Council board of directors.
In response to receiving the award, Russell said: “It fills me with a great sense of honour to receive the Oskar Morawetz Award. I am humbled to be in the company of other esteemed Canadian artists who have received this prize. I had the great privilege to meet Oskar Morawetz, and I saw how, through his keen sense of storytelling, he was able to express Canada’s place in history in a way that was informed by his own personal experience, empathy and sense of humour. Thank you to the award jurors, the Morawetz family and to all brave composers who express their voice and entrust artists to speak eternally for them.”
Congratulations to Nicholas Ryan Kelly, winner of the 2019 Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition!
Choirs Ontario received 30 submissions from composers across the country. The compositions were reviewed by a distinguished jury including Hilary Apfelstadt, Leonard Enns, and Melissa Lalonde.
Memory’s Voices by Penicton, BC composer, Nicholas Ryan Kelly was chosen as the winner. Nicholas receives a cash prize of $2,000.00 and a premier performance to be determined.
From the jury: “The music is chorally idiomatic and well written, the harmonic journey is compelling and expressive, and the music/text relationship is sensitive and nuanced. Every moment reaches forward, to lead us through a rich and satisfying journey.”
The Snow-Shower by Toronto composer, Emily Green was given an honourable mention.
This is an attractive setting of this evocative and picturesque text (by William Cullen Bryant), with interesting and well-crafted harmonic changes, rewarding melodic material for all voice parts, changes in choral texture that keep the music fresh and engaging, and gentle metric shifts, all supported by the constant underlying voice of the piano.”
Nicholas Ryan Kelly is a composer who draws inspiration from speculative fiction, science, and nature. He has been commended by the Vancouver Sun for his “sophisticated work of such immediate, glittery appeal” and called “a rising star in the constellation of Canadian composers” by Oregon Arts Watch. Originally drawn to music’s storytelling power by symphonic film scores, he now brings a sense of cinematic drama to music for choirs, orchestras, and wind bands throughout North America.
Choirs Ontario is grateful to our jury members, Hilary Apfelstadt, Leonard Enns and Melissa Lalonde, Competition Coordinator Meghan Hila and Choirs Ontario Past President, Elaine Choi.
Choirs Ontario is proud to support Canadian composers and add to the rich legacy of Canadian choral music through the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition. Past winners of the competition include: Jason Jestadt, Mark Sirett, Leonard Enns, Allan Bevan, and Elise Letourneau. For a complete list of winners, please visit www.choirsontario.org/ruthwatsonhenderson.html
The competition was born out of a concert held in November 1992 to honour Ruth’s 60th birthday including Toronto Children’s Chorus, Elmer Iseler Singers, Amadeus Choir, Bach Children’s Chorus, Elora Festival Singers, Oriana Women’s Choir, and TMC Youth Chorus. The proceeds of this joint concert were used to establish the RWH competition. The administration of the competition was handed over to Choirs Ontario with Ruth Watson Henderson involved in judging the competition up until 2017.
One of Canada’s foremost musicians, Ruth Watson Henderson is renowned internationally both as a composer and pianist. Her works are acclaimed, performed, and recorded worldwide. The Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition was established in 1996 to recognize Ms. Watson Henderson’s invaluable contribution to the art of choral music. Ms. Henderson is very pleased to encourage the contribution to Canadian choral music that the competition provides, and appreciates the work of Choirs Ontario who administers this program.
New music festival gives choral music lovers a chance to learn and perform together with musicians from around the world.
February 24, 2020. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. On June 26 & 27, Choral Mosaic 2020 will gather choral music enthusiasts from around the world at The Living Arts Centre for unprecedented opportunities to learn and perform together with top professional musicians. No auditions will be held and singers of all levels and abilities are invited to participate and perform.
Workshops and master classes will explore a wide range of interactive topics for singers of all levels. Then, all festivalgoers will gather onstage in a massed choir of four hundred singers to perform at the Grand Finale Gala Concert with top musicians and conductors with The Mississauga Symphony Orchestra.
Workshops – a diverse offering of choral workshops for singers of all skill levels led by esteemed clinicians from across Canada:
- Pre-festival bonus workshop: “Start Your Voices – A Choral Mosaic Vocal Warmup” with Dr. Darryl Edwards, University of Toronto;
- Master Class by Rajaton, superstar a capella group from Finland;
- Respectful Collaboration with Indigenous Artists with Dr. Lori-Anne Dolloff, University of Toronto
- Singing Gospel: An Introduction with Dr. Karen Burke, York University and Toronto Mass Choir;
- Embodied Choral Singing with Dr. Kimberley Barber, Wilfrid Laurier University;
- Free Your Voice: Learning Healthy and Expressive Vocal Technique with Dr. Elroy Friesen, University of Manitoba;
- Who are the people in your neighbourhood? Exploring multicultural connections through community music with Dr. Charlene Pauls & Natalie Fasheh of the Mosaic Music Collective;
- An Introduction to South Indian Singing with Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell of Auto Rickshaw;
- Raising Voices: Choirs for People Living with Dementia with Bob Anderson, Conductor/Director and Ruth Watkiss, Certified Music Therapist with the Alzheimer Society Peel.
Learn more about the Choral Mosaic 2020 workshops here.
Grand Finale Gala Concert repertoire – all 400 festival attendees are welcomed onstage to perform onstage in a massed choir:
- This Massed Choir will perform a new work by Danish composer Kim André Arnesen specially commissioned for the Choral Mosaic 2020;
- The Massed Choir will also perform these powerful master and contemporary works:
- Laudate Dominum from Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore;
- Excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story;
- Excepts from Handel’s Messiah (Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain and Amen Chorus);
- a capella works by contemporary composers Eric Whitacre and Sara Quartel;
- Guest Conductors Dr. Karen Burke and Lori-Ann Dolloff will join Conductor and Artistic Director David Ambrose with The Mississauga Symphony Orchestra.
- Spotlight Performances showcasing visiting choirs from around the world will round out the program:
- Rolnička Praha from Prague, Czech Republic (Traditional, Folk, Contemporary);
- Bishop’s Crew from Nairobi (Gospel, Pop);
- more Spotlight Performances to come!
Artistic Director David Ambrose explains his choice of repertoire for the Grand Finale Gala Concert: “I chose the bigger works for the power of singing these masterworks with massed choir and full orchestra. Many choristers will have sung these masterworks with piano and organ before, but the fullness and majesty of the sound will be unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. Eric Whitacre is wildly successful and Kim André Arnesen is the most frequently performed classical composer out of Norway today. And Sara Quartel is a great rising Canadian talent. They each have their own unique voice.”
Tickets to Choral Mosaic 2020 on sale now at www.choralmosaic.com.
Choral Mosaic 2020 welcomes choral music lovers everywhere to share and explore the wonder and passion of choral music.
The Toronto Consort presents Crossing the Channel
Date(s): March 6 & 7, 2020 at 8pm
Leading scholar, Blue Heron’s Scott Metcalfe guest directs The Toronto Consort’s core ensemble in an exploration of the contenance angloise, a fashionable musical style from the rivalling 15th-century courts of England, France, and Burgundy.
(French version to follow/Version française à suivre)
Do you know anyone who has excelled in any of the following categories? Get their outstanding work recognized by nominating them for a National Choral Award!
Deadline: March 1, 2020
Click here to submit a nomination: https://www.choralcanada.org/national-choral-awards.html
Connaissez-vous quelqu’un qui fait du travail excellent dans l’une des catégories ci-dessous? Vous pouvez récompenser leurs efforts en posant leur candidature pour un des Prix nationaux de chant choral!
Date limite: le 1 mars 2020
Pour poser une candidature: https://www.choralcanada.org/prix-nationaux-de-chant-choral.html
As part of our community engagement program, we would like to offer Choirs Ontario members 50% off all tickets to our upcoming world premiere of Jacqueline, running this February 19th-23rd. Jacqueline explores the powerful legacy of the late virtuoso cellist Jacqueline du Pré. This fiercely talented teenage cellist defied all odds to become the best in the world, only to face a terrifying fight with a mysterious illness at the height of her fame.
50% OFF ALL TICKETS when you use the code JACQUELINE at https://tapestryopera.com/tickets/
Good for performances on Thurs Feb 20 & Fri. Feb 21
Valid for any seat in any seating section
OFFER VALID UNTIL FEB 18TH
Seating is limited, book early to avoid disappointment.
I hope you will join us for this world premiere presentation! For more information on Jacqueline visit https://tapestryopera.com/performances/jacqueline/
Register NOW for the 2020 Annual Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School (May 2020)!
February 1st is the deadline for applications to participate in the annual Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School (CRMSS). Directed by world-renowned baritone and choral workshop leader Greg Skidmore https://www.gregskidmore.co.uk, it will once again take place from May 9 to 17, 2020 at Huron University (part of Western University) in London Ontario. In its third year, this school is the only Renaissance choral music workshop of its kind in Canada. It is on par with the best of these types of workshops run by The Tallis Scholars (Seattle), the Early Music Academy (Boston) and those held across England and Europe. In fact, the schools official patron is Peter Phillips, the current director of The Tallis Scholars.
A welcoming message from our director, Greg Skidmore:
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for CRMSS 2020. This is our third year and we’ve had such great fun and learned so much since May 2018. I’m especially excited this year to be focusing on the works of the Franco-Flemish school, really the ‘home’ of Renaissance polyphonic music. Equally exciting is our expanding tutor team, this year including CRMSS Guest Artist Robert Hollingworth (director of the UK’s dynamic and inventive vocal consort, I Fagiolini) and five master’s level performance students from the University of York in the UK, all of whom bring a wide range of experience and energy to the course. If you want to spend a whole week diving so deep into Renaissance polyphony you think you might never want to come up for air, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and apply! I can’t wait to hear from you.”
Aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at undergraduate students, graduates, and young professional singers, the school is dedicated to the study and performance of Renaissance polyphonic vocal music at the highest levels. Students will learn from internationally-acknowledged specialist tutors from the worlds of performance and academia https://www.crmss.org/tutors.html, and be immersed in this magnificent music for a full week. It will be an intensive period of rehearsal and performance, both liturgically and in concert, all with an emphasis on quality in performance.
The theme of CRMSS 2020 is Beyond the Ordinary with a focus on Franco-Flemish music. Complete Details of the course curriculum here:https://www.crmss.org/course.html . Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School 2020 will culminate in a final live concert performance for the public at the end of the course, again this year in the gorgeous acoustics of St Peter’s Cathedral Basilica in London on Sunday, May 17th at 2:30pm.
We have received many glowing testimonials by students from previous years – like this one:
“CRMSS is an incredible opportunity for North American conducting students to get a profoundly different and valuable perspective on the art of choral music. Grounded in the choral practices of the most esteemed ensembles in the UK, Greg and co. teach you how to sing, study, and think like a top choral singer, an invaluable set of tools for anyone looking to conduct music at the highest level. I would highly recommend this course to any choral conducting student in the country.” (Paolo Debuque, MM University of Michigan, 2017). Learn more about our previous two years of courses here: https://www.crmss.org/2018report.pdf and here: https://www.crmss.org/2019report.pdf.
Chef de chœur, Choral Conductor
Robert Filion’s choirs are celebrated across Canada, earning top awards at the local, provincial and national level. His vocal ensembles at the Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario (École De La Salle) have won six national championships and can be regular heard on the CBC and Radio-Canada. The voice programme he heads in the CEAOhas three times been designated Best Music Programme in the National Capital Region by the Kiwanis Music Festival and the CBC—in 2008, 2012 and 2017.
A talented musician and artistic director, in 2011 Robert Filion was appointed Artistic Director of Unisong, the annual Canada Day festival of Canadian choirs at the National Arts Centre. He works with the National Arts Centre Orchestra on concerts involving youth choirs. He focuses on new works and music from around the world, and has collaborated on productions of original Canadian works by, among others, Ruth Watson-Henderson, Laura Hawley, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Stephen Hatfield, Donald Patriquin, Frédéric Lacroix and Clifford Crawley.
In January 2018, M. Filion accepted with great enthusiasm the position of Choir Conductor for the University of Ottawa Choir. He looks forward to renewing his ties to his Alma Mater. In 2013 Mr. Filion received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Les chœurs dirigés par Robert Filion sont reconnus partout au pays, décrochant des premiers prix à l’échelle locale, provinciale, nationale et internationale. Les ensembles vocaux sous sa direction au Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario (École secondaire De La Salle), qu’on peut entendre régulièrement sur la CBC et Radio-Canada, ont remporté six concours nationaux. Le programme de musique vocale qu’il dirige au CEAO s’est vu attribuer à trois reprises (en 2008, 2012 et 2017) la désignation de Meilleur programme de musique de la capitale nationale par le Festival de musique Kiwanis et le réseau CBC.
En 2011, Robert Filion a été nommé directeur artistique de Unisong, le festival des chorales canadiennes qui se déroule chaque année au Centre national des arts, à l’occasion de la Fête du Canada. Il collabore avec l’Orchestre du Centre national des arts pour des concerts auxquels participent des chœurs de jeunes. Il met l’accent sur les œuvres nouvelles et la musique de différents pays, et il a apporté son concours à des productions d’œuvres canadiennes originales, notamment des œuvres de Ruth Watson-Henderson, Laura Hawley, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Stephen Hatfield, Donald Patriquin, Frédéric Lacroix et Clifford Crawley.
C’est avec la plus grande fierté qu’en janvier 2018 M. Filion accepte de prendre la direction musicale de la Chorale de l’Université d’Ottawa. Il entame cette nouvelle aventure avec beaucoup d’enthousiasme où il souhaite solidifier ses liens avec son Alma Mater. En 2013, M. Fillion s’est vu décerner le Prix du premier ministre pour l’excellence dans l’enseignement.
The Unisong Choral Festival has been uniting Canada through song since 1991. The festival brings hundreds of singers or all ages, from all parts of Canada to perform as one massed ensemble. Under the guidance of a well-known Canadian conductor, Unisong is at the heart of Canada Day festivities in the Nation’s Capital!
The festival runs June 28th to July 2nd each year and provides choirs a once in a lifetime chance to perform in marquis venues in Ottawa.
2020’s guest conductor is Kathleen Allan, the incoming Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and is the Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional Baroque choir!
Every year is different, with unique performance opportunity, and featuring a repertoire of Canadian and International folk music hand-picked by our guest conductor. Additionally, Unisong has a partnership with Heritage Canada, the National Arts Centre, and the City of Ottawa, to ensure that our performers have the opportunity for amazing performances in locations not normally available. Past performance opportunities include singing O Canada on Parliament Hill and singing alongside the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Have a look at our massed ensemble in 2017!
For more information please visit our website, https://www.unisong.ca or contact our Festival Director, Mike Greenwood at:
We are now accepting applications for 2020 and beyond!
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.