Ontario Youth Choir
Ontario Youth Choir. Mixed choir ranging from 40 to 75 voices, initiated in 1971 by the Ontario Choral Federation and sponsored yearly until 1987 by the Ontario Arts Council. Members of the Ontario Youth Choir, ages 16 to 23, have been selected each year from across the province (with the exception of 1989 and 2004, when financial difficulties led the choir to suspend its activities) to participate in summer sessions of rehearsals, masterclasses, and voice lessons in preparation for a regional concert tour in the fall. Summer choral camps have been facilitated by Darryl Edwards, Lynn Blaser, Sandra Graham, and Ingemar Korjus, and were held at Lakefield College School, near Peterborough, until 1984; and subsequently at Albert College (Belleville); St Andrew's College (Aurora); Camp Manitou-wabing (near Parry Sound); the University of Western Ontario; Ridley College (St Catharines); Queen's University; Albion Hills Field Conservation Centre (Bolton); and the University of Ottawa. In addition to touring in Ontario, the choir performed in Brandon, Man, in 1976 and in Montreal in 1977, 1979, 1982, 1985, and 1988. Until 1991, the choir's season concluded with a performance at the Ontario Choral Federation's annual spring conference, Choirs in Contact.
Conductors and Accompanists
The choir has been conducted by Brian Law (1971, 1987); Gerald Fagan (1972, 2005); Deral Johnson (1973, 1977, 1986, 1995); Albert Greer (1974); John Barron (1975, 1979); Jon Washburn (1976, 1991); Robert Cooper (1978, 2007); Richard Householder (1980); John Barnum (1981); Gerald Neufeld (1982); John Ford (1983); Barbara Clark (1984); Brian Jackson (1985); Wayne Riddell (1988); Wayne Strongman (1990); Lydia Adams (1992, 2005); David Ferguson (1993); Lee Willingham (1994); Elmer Iseler (1996); Victoria Meredith (1997); Diane Loomer (1998); Ken Fleet (1999); Ivars Taurins (2000); Mark Sirett (2001); Brainerd Blyden-Taylor (2002); and Noel Edison (2003). Its accompanists have included, among others, Lydia Adams (1990, 1991); Ruth Watson Henderson (1992, 1995, 2000, 2002); William Maddox (2001); Chris Dawes (2003); Paula Jane Francis (2005); Marlene Fagan (2006); and Edward Moroney (2007).
Repertoire and Commissions
The Ontario Youth Choir's repertoire has been wide ranging, reflecting the stylistic sensibilities and strengths of each conductor, but has consistently endorsed the work of Canadian composers. Commissioned works for the choir have included Norma Beecroft's Three Impressions (1973); Berthold Carrière's three songs from As You Like It (1978); Nancy Telfer's The Spell of Times Long Past (1982); Ruth Watson Henderson's A Sequence of Dreams (1983); Keith Bissell's I Remember, I Remember (1984); Derek Holman's Songs of Youth (1985); Barrie Cabena's The Birds and the Bees (1986); Sid Robinovitch's Four Inuit Songs (1988); and Marjan Mozetich's Youth's Concerns (1995). It has also performed works by Healey Willan, Eleanor Daley, Peter Togni, Bruce Sled, and Lydia Adams.
Recordings and Awards
The choir has appeared on three recordings, including a 1975 concert of motets by Willan, Palestrina, Andrea Gabrieli, Rachmaninoff, and Harry Somers, partsongs by Debussy and Kodály, and several folksong arrangements (World Audat C148); a 1986 collection of works by Nancy Telfer (CAPAC WRC5-4274); and a concert of Duruflé, Purcell, Cabena, Poulenc, Matthias, Randall Thompson, and Somers in 1989 (Ontario Choral Federation WRCH-6329). A documentary about the choir, We Like to Sing, was filmed in 1980 by CBC Windsor.
The Ontario Youth Choir was awarded first prize in the CBC National Radio Competition for Amateur Choirs in 1975, and in 1976 won the Beardsall Silver Rose Bowl award in the BBC's "Let the Peoples Sing" international competition. Alumni of the Ontario Youth Choir include Kevin McMillan, Gerald Finley, Adrienne Pieczonka, Daniel Taylor, and Patricia O'Callaghan.