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.

Further information on SingOntario 2021 will be posted here as soon as it is available.
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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.

Topics covered in previous workshops have included: 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 are also offered in webinar format for those unable to participate in person. Recently, we presented a webinar session on Mental Health in the age of COVID-19 with psychotherapist Allison Villa called, “How to feel better when you miss your choir”.






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 2019, the award was presented to Frieda and Vern Heinrichs in recognition of their decades-long support of choral music in this province, across the country, and around the world.  They have demonstrated a 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.

Previous recipients include: Linda Beaupre, Emily Burgetz, Marilyn Ala-Kanti, Albert Greer, Robert Henderson, Mark Sirett, Jessie Iseler, Gerald Fagan, Barbara Clark, Jean Ashworth Bartle, and Andi Murphy.

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
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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 info@choirsontario.org

Nomination deadline is May 31, 2021.

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

Please note: Due to Provincial Funding Cuts, this program is unavailable until further notice.






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.

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 info@choirsontario.org 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, 2021 to be considered. The winner will be notified no later than February 15, 2022. Please send submissions to Choirs Ontario Managing Director at info@choirsontario.org

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 Claireter Hart, “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
2019: Nicholas Ryan Kelly, “Memory’s Voices”