Pro Coro Canada
Pro Coro Canada. Edmonton-based professional choir of 24-25 voices founded in 1980 by Michel Gervais. Conductors have been Gervais 1980-8 and Anders Eby (who commuted from Sweden) 1988-90, succeeded by Søren Hansen in 1991, Agnes Grossmann (as principal guest conductor) 1996-7, and American conductor Richard Sparks (with associate conductor Trent Worthington) in 1999. Pro Coro performs in Edmonton with a subscription series of six to eight concerts, held 1985-96 at All Saints' Cathedral and beginning in the late 1990s at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. ConSept, a seven- or eight-voice subsidiary ensemble founded by Gervais, also gave concerts 1980-95 under the aegis of the parent group.
Repertoire and Performances
Pro Coro performs a wide range of repertoire with an emphasis on the music of Bach, and in particular on contemporary Canadian, Scandinavian, and Eastern European music. Beginning with Gervais' 1978-80 apprenticeship with Eric Ericson, conductor of the Stockholm Chamber Choir, the choir established a strong link with Sweden and subsequently developed a vocal technique and choral sound distinct from those of most choirs in English Canada. Pro Coro is also recognized for introducing unusual and rarely performed works, and has commissioned or premiered pieces by Malcolm Forsyth (Three Love Poems, 1995), Allan Bevan (1995, 2002), Allan Gilliland (1999), and Danish composer Bo Holten (1996).
Regularly accompanied by its own Pro Coro Chamber Orchestra, the choir has also performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, l'Orchestre de Lyon, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and Music Antiqua Köln, and has collaborated with Canada's Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Richard Eaton Singers, as well as the Stockholm Chamber Choir and Norwegian Soloists' Choir. Noted guest performers have included Lois Marshall, Jean Stilwell, Catherine Robbin, Kevin McMillan, and Emma Kirkby.
Contributions and Successes
In addition to founding the Pro Coro Canada Choral Composition Competition in 1994, the choir facilitates various workshops and mentoring programs for music students, and has helped to develop the Schola Cantorum Choral Program at the Alberta Conservatory of Music, Edmonton. It has appeared on international broadcasts, on CBC radio, and has released the cassette A Ceremony of Carols (1982, 1984, Liberty Sound WRC4-4362) as well as the recordings Fancy's Child (1995) and First Snow (1996), both from Arktos Records. In 1996 Pro Coro Canada was the recipient of the Canada Council's Healey Willan Prize.