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.

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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.

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.

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

In 2018, the award will be presented to a singer, conductor or accompanist who, through her/his work has made a significant contribution to the choral art in his or her community.

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 supported by a letter of recommendation and nominee’s biography of not more than two pages outlining the candidate’s contribution to the choral art.

Application materials can be uploaded using the form below:

  • Nominator Information

  • Nominee Information

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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 June 30, 2018.

            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 2018-2019 season. 


            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.

            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.

            Next Application Deadline and Composition Guidelines

            Application Deadline for SATB composition is November 1, 2019.