Programs & Awards

Our programs support enhanced success for students and learners of all ages and abilities by creating community based events and training programmes that develop the skills and knowledge of choristers, conductors and administrators.

We promote the growth and celebrate achievements of choral music through several awards that recognize the accomplishments of exceptional individuals who have contributed to the development of Ontario’s choral music through conducting, composition, and community leadership.

Sing Ontario

SingOntario is an annual choral festival for choirs, conductors, choristers, and choral music lovers happening in locations across Ontario. The festival features adjudicated choir performances and clinics led by esteemed choral conductors, dynamic workshops for conductors and choristers and a massed choir performance. SingOntario provides exclusive opportunity to connect with choirs, conductors, choristers, and choral music lovers of all ages.

Next Festival is scheduled to take place in March 2020 in Sudbury. Details will be posted in January.
[tribe_events view="list" category="singontario"]

Choirs Ontario on the Road

Choirs Ontario offers choral workshops for choral administrators, board members, singers and conductors in locations across Ontario. Each year, we present a series of workshops in collaboration with local groups focusing on the important issues currently affecting choral organizations.

The topics selected for 2018-19 series include HR policies, recruiting and retaining singers, generating audience and fundraising. Sight reading workshop will be offered for singers helping them improve sight-reading skills and become a more confident and independent singers. Workshops will also be offered in webinar format for those unable to participate in person.

President's Leadership Award

Established in 2001 to commemorate Choirs Ontario’s 30th anniversary, this award 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 Award is presented annually and alternates between those who support choral music – executive directors, administrators, volunteers, corporate sponsors, philanthropists, and those who are directly involved in the performance of choral music – singers, conductors, and accompanists. Candidates must have demonstrated an exceptional leadership role, vision and cultural activism and must be nominated by a Choirs Ontario member choir or individual member.In 2018, the award was presented to Linda Beaupre and Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt in recognition of their outstanding work with choirs of all ages. Previous recipients include: Emily Burgetz, Marilyn Ala-Kanti, Albert Greer, Robert Henderson, Mark Sirett, Jessie Iseler, Gerald Fagan, Barbara Clark, Jean Ashworth Bartle, and Andi Murphy.

In 2019, the award will be presented to a choral music supporter who, through their work as an administrator, volunteer, corporate sponsor, or philanthropist has made a significant contribution to the choral art in his or her community as well as on regional and/or provincial level.

Application Requirements and Procedure

Nominees must be residents of Ontario who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and advanced the role of choral music in their community for a minimum of five years. Candidates must be nominated by a Choirs Ontario member choir or individual member. Each nomination must consist of a completed application form, the nomination letter (from nominee), two letters of recommendation and nominee’s biography outlining the candidate’s contribution to the choral art.

Application materials can be uploaded using the form below:

  • Nominator Information

  • Nominee Information

  • Drop files here or
  • Drop files here or
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Or can be sent to:

President’s Leadership Award
Choirs Ontario
230 St. Clair Avenue West,
Toronto, ON M4V 1R5.

Or via email to

Nomination deadline is May 31, 2019.

The Award is juried by a three person panel of Choirs Ontario past presidents who are appointed by the Choirs Ontario Board of Directors. The recipient receives a framed certificate and a Choirs Ontario honorary lifetime membership at a recognition ceremony to be held at one of the concerts where recipient is performing or involved.

Professional Development Grants

The Professional Development Grants Program serves choral organizations across the province, providing them with funding, mentorship relationships and training in artistic and/or administrative areas. This is a unique opportunity for choral organizations who wish to engage professionals on a short-term basis and for whom the submission of a larger funding application to a foundation or an arts council would not be appropriate.

Since its introduction, the program supported over 70 organizations in raising the caliber of work, improving vocal techniques among choristers, building a good choral sound, enhancing quality of performance among children’s choirs, developing strategic planning and visioning, analyzing marketing campaign and grant writing strategies, board development and more.

Please note: the program will not be available during the 2019-2020 season due to provincial funding cuts. 


Application Requirements and Procedure

Choral organizations may apply for funding for artistic or administrative development (expenses may include artist/professional fees, travel and accommodation, up to $500 maximum). The preference will be given to organizations that are not receiving arts council support. Organizations will not be granted funding two years in a row. Collaborative Applications: organizations are encouraged to collaborate to help maximize the training involved and offset travel expenses. Collaborative applications comprised of three choirs could receive up to $1,200. Choir must be currently active in Ontario and be a current member of Choirs Ontario.

There are no extensions to the deadline. Grants are not retroactive and may not be applied to any portion of the training that has taken place prior to approval of the grant. The Professional Development Grants Committee of Choirs Ontario serves as a jury to determine grant allocations. All decisions are final and may not be appealed. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to re-apply to a future deadline.

A complete application should include a proposal from the applicant (2-3 pages), with the following information:

  • statement of training goals (what are you planning to do, and what do you want to achieve with this project)
  • what makes the training appropriate at this time and how this training opportunity will advance your organization (indicate what you hope the outcomes will be)
  • budget detailing projected expenses
  • application cover page (download here)

Ruth Watson Henderson Composition Competition

The Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition Competition is a biennial contest for new choral works with categories alternating between pieces for treble voice choirs and pieces for mixed voice adult choirs. The competition exists to provide Canadian composers with an opportunity of contributing to Canada’s rich choral tradition through the writing of original choral works. The winning entry receives a premiere performance with one of the Ontario choirs and a cash award of $2,000.00.

Next Application deadline (for SATB composition) is November 1, 2019.
Competition is only open to Canadian Composers.

Composition Requirements:

1. The composition must be an original SATB work, 4-6 minutes, a cappella or piano accompaniment
2. A cappella submissions MUST include piano reduction.
3. Texts may be sacred or secular and can be in languages other than English/French. The text must be either original, known to be in public domain or be accompanied by a letter of permission from copyright owner.
4. All submissions must not have been previously commissioned, published or performed and
must have been composed within the last two years. Arrangements of previously composed works are not acceptable. The composer shall retain the copyright of the work.
5. Previous competition finalists reapplying must submit a different piece.

Please submit a PDF copy of your composition without you name anywhere on the body of composition. The PDF copy must be clear, clean and legible. No handwritten scores will be considered. Graphic scores may be a PDF scan of a written score if applicable.

• $40 Application Fee applies and should be sent via e-Transfer to or via mail (cheque) to Choirs Ontario, 230 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, ON M4V 1R5.

You will also need a cover letter that includes the following information:
1. Composer’s name
2. Physical Address
3. Phone Number
4. Email Address
5. Composition Title
6. Text Source

Judging criteria includes, but is not limited to:
1. Compositional structure
2. Voice Leading
3. Harmonic language
4. Text selection and setting
5. Piano accompaniment (if applicable)
6. General understanding of choral idiom

All entries must be submitted by November 1, 2019 to be considered. The winner will be notified no later than February 15, 2020. Please send submissions to Choirs Ontario Managing Director at

History of the Composition
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.

Past Composition winners (year, composer, title, voicing, performing choir)

1996: Mark Sirett, “Two Songs of Innocence”, SSA, Toronto Children’s Choir
1998: Leonard Enns, “Missa Brevis”, SATB, Elmer Iseler Singers
2000: Benjamin Bolden, “Easter Antephon”, Treble, The Oriana Singers
2002: Allan Bevan, “Peace”, SATB, The Elora Singers
2004: not held
2005: Jennifer Bennett, Martha Hill Duncan, Stella Claire terHart, “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”; “Star Prayers”; “Ode to the Pig”, SSA, Toronto Children’s Chorus
2007: Lavinia Kell Parker, “White Lights in Darkness”, SATB, Amadeus Choir of Toronto
2009: Michael Cutler, “We Are the Music Makers”, youth SATB, Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir
2011: Elise Letourneau, “Ave Maria”, SSA, Toronto Children’s Chorus
2013: no winner selected
2015: Jason Jestadt, “At Night the Valley Dreams of Snow”, SATB, The Elmer Iseler Singers
2017: Marie Claire Saindon, “Light”, SSA, The Toronto Children’s Chorus