HISTORY OF NEPEAN CHOIR

2018-2019

The 2018-2019 season begins a new chapter in the life of the choir under the dynamic leadership of Lee Carter as director, and the accompaniment by Risa Tonita. We have participated in excellent workshops with Lee previously and so we look forward to exciting things.

2017-2018

Dec 2017 Christmas concert poster May 2018 concert poster

Denise Hawkins lead the choir for its 43rd season in her 21st and final season as choir director, and Sara-Lynn Hutchison returns as our excellent accompanist. We had another fun and productive weekend retreat in January in Arnprior, and were fortunate to be lead in a workshop by renowned choral master Laurence Ewashko. We had two concerts, a Christmas concert, titled "Sing Noël!", and are currently preparing for our upcoming concert "Spring Awakening". We are grateful to Denise to the many years she dedicated to our choir, providing excellent guidance and developing our capabilities as an ensemble to be better than we had ever been before! Also, due to other commitments, Sara-Lynn decided to take a leave of absense for the 2018-2019 season.

2016-2017

Dec 2016 Christmas concert poster March 2017 concert May 2017 concert poster

Denise Hawkins lead the choir in her 20th season as choir director, and Sara-Lynn Hutchison returned as our outstanding accompanist. For our christmas concert, we presented our major work, selections from Handel's Messiah, along with other seasonal music, including pieces in English, German and Latin. Our annual weekend retreat in January in Arnprior was enriched by the presence of Lee Carter, who led a very informative and entertaining choral workshop. Our March concert was "Canadiana", a selection of Canadian music to help celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary sesquicentennial, featuring guest vocalists "Form the Top". In May, we presented our spring concert with an Americas flair "Music from the Americas", with guest artists "Colores Andinos", a Latin-Andean group of South American musicians, presenting the major work "Miso Criolla" in Spanish.

2015-2016

Dec 2015 Christmas concert poster May 2016 concert poster

Denise Hawkins lead the choir in her 19th season as choir director, and Sara-Lynn Hutchison returned as our superb accompanist. Our two main concerts were "Songs of the Season" - our annual Christmas concert with the major work being Pachelbel's Magnificat along with seasonal songs by Chilcott, Patriquin and John Rutter, and our spring concert was "Songs of Love and Laughter" including folk songs by Bevan, Chilcott and Somers, we also enjoyed performing excerpts of Gilbert and Sullivan's famous work "Pirates of Penzance".

2014-2015

Dec 2014 concert poster March 2015 concert poster May 2015 spring concert poster

The Nepean Choir celebrated its 40th season this year with Denise Hawkins leading us in her 18th season as choir director, and Sara-Lynn Hutchison returning for a fifth season as our accomplished accompanist. In December 2014 we performed our annual Christmas concert at Woodroffe United Church, titled "Songs of Light and Joy' — Music for Christmas", featuring music by Morten Lauridsen "O nata lux", works by Bach, Tallis, and Rutter, and with musical guests "Lyra Angelica Harp Ensemble," who performed a piece with the choir as well as a few on their own. In January 2015 we had a successful, productive and relaxing workshop weekend in Arnprior at the Galilee Centre. The weekend featured a Sunday morning workshop with Laurence Ewashko who provided instruction in choral singing. In March, we held our first-ever afternoon mini concert at St Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church, titled "Songs of Prayer and Praise" and featuring Haydn's Te Deum in C, as well as music by Bach, Mendelssohn and Fauré. After the concert we held a Silent Auction and Reception in the basement of the church. Great appreciation goes out to Cathy Bielak for organizing the Silent Auction. In May 2015, to conclude the season and to celebrate the choir's 40th season, we performed our annual spring concert, "Songs of Flowing Water and Other Stories", at Woodroffe United Church, which featured works by Allister MacGillivray, Stan Rogers, Bruce Cockburn and selections from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Our guest performers were students of Lauren Richardson. Throughout the season, we also performed three Sing-Outs at various Seniors' Residences in the Ottawa area and carolling in the Byward Market in December.

2013-2014

Another great season has passed us by again, led by Denise Hawkins in her seventeenth season as choir director, with Sara-Lynn Hutchison fortunately returning for a fourth season as our accomplished accompanist. In December 2013 we performed our annual Christmas concert, titled "Magnificat' — Music for the Christmas Season", featuring Pergolesi-Durant "Magnificat". And again we were pleased to have as our guests, the Jan Järvlepp String Quartet and the wonderful Dianne Ferguson at the organ. In January 2014 we had a successful, productive and relaxing workshop weekend in Arnprior at the Galilee Centre. The weekend featured group vocal lessons with Lisa Webber (Director of the Arnprior Community Choir) and again "Yoga for Choral Singers" workshop with Megan Justus. We participated in the Mosaik Festival again in February 2014 with guest composer/conductor "Brian Tate" which concluded with mass choir performance with five other area choirs at École secondaire de la Salle in the east end of Ottawa. In April 2014 we again performed a joint concert with the Cumberland Community Singers, titled "East meets West II". In May 2014, to conclude the season, we performed our annual spring concert, "Animal Tales — and Other Stories" at Woodroffe United Church, which featured music from the musical "Cats" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and excerpts from Eric Whitacre's "Animal Crackers". Throughout the season we also performed three Sing-Outs at various Senior's Residences in the Ottawa area and caroling in the Byward Market in December.

2012-2013

We had another great season, led by Denise Hawkins in her sixteenth season as director, with Sara-Lynn Hutchison fortunately returning as our accomplished accompanist. We performed our Christmas concert, titled "A Christmas Celebration", featuring Mozart's Vespers. We were pleased to have as our guests, the Jan Järvlepp String Quartet and the wonderful organist Dianne Ferguson. We again had a successful, productive and relaxing workshop week in Arnprior at the Galilee Centre. The weekend featured vocal warmup and group vocal lessons with Lisa Webber (Director of Arnprior Community Choir), rehearsal with the Arnprior Community Choir in preparation for our joint concerts in May and for the first time we had "Yoga for Choral Singers" workshop with Megan Justus. We participated in the Mosaik Festival in February 2013 with guest composer/conductor Stephen Hatfield concluding with a performance with five other area choirs, including Harmonia Choir of Ottawa, the Chorale De La Salle (Senior), Cross Town Youth Chorus, Cumberland Community Singers and Tone Cluster. In April we performed a joint concert with the Cumberland Community Singers, titled "East meets West". For our season finale in May, we performed two Spring concerts, "Double! Double!", with the Arnprior Community Choir; one in Ottawa at Woodroffe United Church, followed a second in Arnprior.

2011-2012

Denise Hawkins led the Nepean Choir in her fifteenth season as director with Sara-Lynn Hutchison also returning as our accomplished accompanist. We performed Vivaldi's Gloria at our Christmas concert, titled "Sing Gloria..." at Woodroffe United Church. We went carolling in the Byward Market in December, and we held another successful working retreat in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, with additional training sessions by Lisa Webber. For our March concert, we were pleased to have as our young guest, the pianist Philip Cho, in a performance title "Sing Fa La La!" held at the Unitarian Congregation. We performed our May concert titled "Sing a New Song!", and were fortunate to have as guests the ByWard Brass, returning again to Woodroffe United Church, which is becoming one of our favourite venues. We finished off our season by performing, for our third year, at Westfest.

2010-2011

Denise Hawkins led the Nepean Choir in her fourteenth season as director and our accompanist was Sara-Lynn Hutchison. Our Christmas concert was in December 2010 at Woodroffe United Church and our guests were the NorthWinds Brass and special guest organist Dianne Ferguson. This year started out with our usual rehearsals every Wednesday evening and in January we had our annual workshop weekend at the Galilee House in Arnprior. On March 4 we had our concert at the First Unitarian Congregation with the Arnprior Community Choir as our guests, directed by Lisa Webber and accompanied by Andrea de Boer. Soprano solos and duets were also performed by Lisa Webber and our own Joanne Hillier. We performed an encore performance with the choir in Arnprior on March 6. We performed our spring concert, "Rhyme and Rhythm", May 6 at Woodroffe United Church, with guest artists Laurie Lund, flautist and James McGowan, jazz pianist. On June 11 we performed at the annual Westfest festival in Westboro.

2009-2010

May 2010 concert poster Denise Hawkins led the Nepean Choir in her thirteenth season as director, and our accompanist was Sarah Westbrook. Our Christmas concert was in December 2010 at St. Matthias Anglican Church with our guest a cappella ensemble "Quintessence". In January we held our annual workshop weekend at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior. On March 12 we had a concert "Music Across the Border" of spirituals, folk songs and show tunes at the First Unitarian Congregation with guest young performers Aidan Tomosky-Beck, tenor, and Alexandre Marcotte and Rénaud Coté-Giguerre, guitar duo. We performed our spring concert, "Dance Mix! Eclectic Music that will Move You!", May 14 at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church, with special guests the Sue Fay Healy Irish Dancers.

2008-2009

May 2009 concert poster

Denise Hawkins' leads the choir for her twelfth season, along with Sarah Westbrook as accompanist, as our Christmas concert "On Christmas Night..." was held at Rideau Park United Church on Friday December 12, 2008 with guests "The Cumberland Street Brass" quintet. We held our annual weekend choral workshop in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, and performed at the Sunday service at Grace-St. Andrews United Church, Arnprior, also an annual event.

We added an extra mid-season concert this year on March 6 at the First Unitarian Congregation with delightful young guest performers Bryan Cheng on cello, Sylvie Cheng on piano and Julie Leduc on harp.

Our spring concert "Songs for Canada - Music from Sea to Sea" was on May 8th at Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church, featuring guest performers the Pimadiziwin Singers, an Ottawa-based First Nations group featuring First Nations-style music, drumming and dancing. For this concert we partnered with One World Grannies, a member of the Stephen Lewis Foundation "grandmothers to grandmothers" charity, with proceeds from the concert contributing to their efforts to support grandmothers of orphans in Africa. We also sang at several retirement homes, including Riverpark Place on February 28.

Nepean Choir 2007

2007-2008

Our Christmas concert at Centrepointe Theatre "A Festive Noël", a seasonal celebration with voices and brass, was presented Dec. 7th featuring guests "NorthWinds Brass" under the direction of Al Ridgeway. We held our Spring concert "A Festival of World Music" on May 9th, 2008 at Centrepointe Theatre, featuring guests "The Sue Fay Healy Irish Dancers" and the "Oto-wa Taiko" Japanese Drummers.

2006-2007

Denise Hawkins' milestone tenth year leading the choir. David Loyer provided another year of accomplished accompaniment. Our annual Christmas concert "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" was held at the Centrepointe Theatre, at Ben Franklin Place, with guests: baritone soloist Garth Hampson, and cellist Jan Järvlepp. We had a successful workshop weekend at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior in January. Spring concert: "From Wondrous to Wicked", with a guest quartet from the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. We presented several "sing-out" performances at various venues during the season at community events, such as Nepean Days, and at several retirement homes.

Nepean Choir 2005

2005-2006

Denise Hawkins' ninth year leading the choir to new heights. David Loyer provided another year of accomplished accompaniment. Our spring concert at Centrepointe Theatre was "Music of the Pacific Rim" was a musical tour of songs and folk tunes from countries bordering the Pacific and and Broadway hits from tales inspired by the South Seas. It featured a favourite returning guest, the "Oto-wa Taiko" Japanese drumming group,

2005

The choir celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Denise Hawkins leads the choir in her eighth year as director, with David Loyer returning as accompanist, and the choir using NorthWestern United Church as our rehearsal venue.  We held another successful and enjoyable weekend workshop/retreat in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, along with a performance at Grace-St. Andrew's United Church.  Our annual spring concert will be in May at the Centrepointe Theatre, entitled "Another Opening, Another Show", with dancers from "The Sue Fay Healy School of Traditional Irish Dance" as our guests.

2004

The choir held a workshop/retreat in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, along with a performance at Grace-St. Andrew's United Church. Our annual spring concert will be held in May, entitled "On with the Show" comprising a selection of Broadway show tunes, with special guests "The Nepean All-City Jazz Band".  After the summer break, our fall season had several sing-outs in preparation for our annual christmas concert at the Centrepointe Theatre with special guests a fairly new but wonderful group of singers, The Cantiamo Girls Choir and Brian Smyth as MC.  The past few concerts have featured more individual performances in solos, duets and small groups to expand our repertoire.  As usual, we held several annual social events such as a corn roast and a Christmas dinner so choir members can get to know each other better!

2003

Another successful workshop/retreat was held in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, along with a performance at Grace-St. Andrew's United Church. Other performances were given at Kanata United Church, with guest violinist, and at Christ Church Cathedral's Lenten Series. The spring concert was entitled "Jing-ga-lye-ya! " with invited guests "The Oto-wa Taiko Japanese Drummers" at the Centrepointe Theatre.  The new season began in the fall with several performances leading up to our annual Christmas concert, this year entitled "Gloria!" with special guests "Heralds of Hope".

Choir in performance, Arnprior 2002

2002

Denise returned as Director and David Loyer returned as the choir's accompanist. The choir held a winter weekend workshop in January at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior. The workshop was fun and productive; we learned some helpful voice exercises, and fine-tuned some of our repertoire. The spring concert was titled "Songs - Then and Now", with special guests, the Central Children's Choir of Ottawa, directed by Barbara Clark, with Brian Smyth as Master of Ceremonies.
The Fall season began with a performance at "A Loyal Salute", in honour of Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee, hosted by the United Empire Loyalists Association at the Centrepointe Theatre. The other performers at this performance were The Central Band of the Canadian Forces, and the MacCulloch Dancers. A "sing-out" was presented at the Christmas Open House in the Atrium of Ben Franklin Place.

The Nepean Choir's family Christmas concert, "Wassail!! A Celebration for Christmastide", featured special guests, "As You Like It", a renaissance instrumental ensemble of harp, strings, recorder, and percussion.

2001

Saundra retired as accompanist after the spring concert. David Loyer joined the choir as accompanist in the Fall of 2001, and the location of the choir's practice venue changed from the Kingsway United Church to the NorthWestern United Church. The Christmas concert was called "A Fireside Christmas", with guest storyteller Mary Cooke, and Brian Smyth as MC.

2000

This was the choir's 25th anniversary year. We again went to the Tim Hortons Camp des Voyageurs in Quyon, Quebec for our winter workshop. We were delighted to have Ruth Barrie as our clinician, and Diane Ferguson as our accompanist. Ruth taught us some wonderful voice exercises, which I am sure we are all still performing! Every weekend should have some excitement, and this one was no exception. The fire alarm was unfortunately set off by smoke from the fireplace, but no one knew how to turn it off. It was a good learning experience for the staff and the local fire brigade!

1999

In March of this year, we were invited to participate in the annual Lenten services at Christ Church Cathedral. This was the year that we acquired new formal uniforms for the ladies -- two-piece emerald green gowns with gold-sequined/green reversible collars.

1997

The sudden passing of our beloved director, Bernice Oak on May 19, 1997, devastated the Choir. We sang at her funeral on May 23rd at McLeod-Stewarton United Church. Bernice's dear friend and colleague, Barbara Clark, saw us through our Spring Concert, with our guest, Iain Phillips, a celtic harpist. Helen Sutherland, one of our own members, gave valuable assistance conducting at practices during our time of transition. Our search for a new Director resulted in Denise Hawkins assuming that position in the fall of 1997. With Denise and our faithful accompanist, Saundra Vandenberg, we presented a successful Christmas Concert at Centrepointe Theatre.

1996

Saundra Vandenberg, an experienced accompanist, accepted the position of accompanist in the fall of this year, upon the resignation of JoAnne Holden. We enjoyed the first of our winter workshops at the Tim Horton Camp Voyageur in Quyon, Quebec, where we combined serious practices with social fun and excellent food.

1995

Cynthia Watson reluctantly resigned as our accompanist, but remained with the Choir singing in the soprano section. JoAnne Holden replaced Cynthia as accompanist for the remainder of the year.

1994

In March of 1994, the Choir went abroad again -- this time to Bermuda. We wore our newest uniforms -- the ladies in a bright pink 2-piece dress, and the men in black tuxedos with matching pink cummerbunds and bow ties. This was also the year that the Choir purchased a good quality portable piano for rehearsals and transporting to places where we were asked to sing where no piano was available.

1993

In 1993, the Choir was obliged to look for another rehearsal hall. After 13 years at Bell High School, we were fortunate to find excellent accommodation at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church on Belair Drive. April 2, 1993 marked the Choir's most ambitious recital yet -- the performance of Faure's Requiem and Vivaldi's Gloria at McLeod-Stewarton United Church. There were three other important benefit concerts also held that year.

1992

This was the year the Choir decided to retire the burgundy uniforms. The ladies were outfitted in a two-piece bright pink gown, while the men donned tuxedos with matching bow ties and cummerbunds.

1991

On April 20, 1991, the Choir was privileged to sing at Craig and Jannie Whyte's wedding in Lanark.

1989

In 1989, after 10 years of faithful service to the Choir, our pianist, Marian Gilmore, suffered a series of health problems and had to retire. She has left us with several pieces of music and special arrangements that she wrote for the Choir. In the spring of 1989, Cynthia Watson took over at the piano. We were fortunate to have such an accomplished accompanist, and we appreciated her dedication.

1988

This was a notable year; it marked the first of our annual Spring and Christmas Concerts at Centrepointe Theatre; Garth Hampson was our guest singer for the Spring Concert. In April, we performed the "Peaceable Kingdom" in the Council Chambers of the City of Nepean. We also made a 2-week tour of Southern England, for which we acquired our "travel-friendly" blue uniforms. We performed concerts at Canterbury, Portsmouth, Bath, Plymouth and London, as well as in Pam Denning's home village of Chew Magna in darkest Somerset! There were, of course, numerous impromptu concerts in various pubs!

1986

In July, the Choir joined a massed choir on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada Day. In December, we sang carols in the Parliament Buildings. Our Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, dropped by to wish us a Merry Christmas!

1985

In the spring of 1985, the year of our 10th Anniversary, the Choir did not have a "guest" act. Various novelty numbers were performed during the second half of the program. Who can forget those blue tights in our premiere performance of "Antonio"! We went to Lake Placid for our annual weekend trip to celebrate our anniversary; we performed for the inmates at the local medium security federal prison.

1984

In the fall of 1984, Bernice Oak returned the to Choir as Director.

1983

The Spring Concert in this year built on the success of 1982's Spring Concert, and led to a costumed and choreographed performance of excerpts from H.M.S. Pinafore. We participated in the Commonwealth Inter-faith Service at McLeod-Stewarton United Church, and for several more years we were invited to be the Choir at these annual services. We began the first of our yearly weekend trips in June of 1983, the first to Kingston, and from then on to various towns within a 2- to 3-hour drive from Ottawa. Bernice retired from the Ottawa Board of Education, and took a year's sabbatical from the Choir. In the interim, we were fortunate to have Cheryl Palmai as our Director. We acquired our burgundy uniforms during this year; the ladies in long burgundy skirts and vests with white blouses, and the men in burgundy pants and navy blazers. In 1983, we received a Volunteer Appreciation Award from the City of Nepean for "enriching the quality of life enjoyed by others in Nepean."

1982

The Choir's Spring Concert included a costumed production of excerpts from South Pacific.

1980-1981

During the next few years, the Choir continued to flourish under Bernice's capable leadership, and grew in size to 65 members, with regular performances at Nepean "Arts in Action", Nepean Days, an annual spring concert at Sir Robert Borden High School, and at the NAC Foyer at Christmas. In addition, we gave concerts at various nursing homes, community events, senior citizens' residences and church services.

1979

In the fall of 1979, Maeve Marshall had to retire as pianist due to health problems, and Marian Gilmore took her place. By this time, the Choir had increased to some 40 singers, had acquired a uniform, and performed their first concert at Sir Robert Borden High School on May 9, 1979, with the Nepean Concert Band as guests.

1978

The year 1978 was a transition year. The Nepean Parks and Recreation Department withdrew its sponsorship, and Kaz had to give up the Directorship. The Choir became an independent organization and sought a new Director. Fortune smiled upon us as Bernice Oak took over as Director in the 1978/79 season.

1975

The Nepean Choir was formed in 1975 under the auspices of the Nepean Parks and Recreation, for "adults who like to sing. The first Director was Jackie Mandrell, followed a year later by Kazimier Samujlo (known as Kaz), a music teacher at Merivale High School. Our first pianist was Maeve Marshall. The Choir grew in numbers over the first 3 years to 28 members.