Coro Vivo Ottawa is a vibrant, friendly, community choir attracting members from across the National Capital Region.
Message from the Artistic Director for 2019-2020
Dear Choristers and Friends of Coro Vivo Ottawa,
I am thrilled to welcome you to yet another season of outstanding choral music with Coro Vivo Ottawa. As our season gets underway and fall makes its appearance, I want to share with you some of the exciting projects we have in store this season.
First, I would like to reflect on what an amazing experience our 2018-2019 season was. I’ve been most excited to conduct this ensemble since 2009 and to see it grow year-after-year. Our past season was one of musical growth and amazing collaborations. We began the season with an uplifting performance of seasonal music. Winter Songs welcomed the Christmas holiday and winter solstice in December 2018. At around the same time, we had the privilege to share the stage with the JUNO award-winning group “The Tenors” for their Home for the Holidays Christmas tour at the National Arts Centre (NAC). We welcomed 2019 with a performance alongside the “China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra” to celebrate the Chinese New Year in with a concert entitled China Melody, again at the NAC. The spring saw three amazing performances by the CVO singers: our own Missa in Angustiis – Lord Nelson Mass by Joseph Haydn at the Shenkman Arts Centre – a collaboration with the “Grand Choeur du Conservatoire de musique de Gatineau”; an outstanding massed performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall in New York City; and, Serenade to Summer with “Solaris Vocal Ensemble” who visited us from Burlington, Vermont. This amazingly busy season allowed us to grow as an ensemble and gave us a unique chance to perform some incredible choral pieces.
Our 2019-2020 season won’t be much different, and I am very excited about the performances and plans that lie ahead. We open our season with Christmas with Brass, a program predominantly featuring music for chorus and brass and encompassing a large span of musical periods. The program will feature compositions by Schütz, Pachelbel, Praetorius alongside modern composers such as Ottawa’s own James McGowan. The program will also include seasonal favourites in both French and English. I am particularly excited about collaborating with young musicians from the Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario who will be accompanying the chorus with their brass instruments. Please join us December 6th and 7th, 2019 for this outstanding program, not to be missed.
Our season will continue with a joint performance of the Brahms Requiem alongside the “Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau” (OSG) and the “Grand Choeur du Conservatoire”. Coro Vivo will join with these amazing ensembles to present this uplifting masterwork on April 3rd and 4th, 2020. I am very excited about yet, another collaboration with the OSG, and look forward to the stage production featuring 100 combined voices together with professional soloists and an outstanding orchestra.
To close our season, CVO will mark the celebration of its recent 35th anniversary (1984-2019) with a program featuring some of the chorister’s favourite pieces throughout the years. With A Spring Celebration, we look forward to re-connecting with these pieces and to sharing them with our audience. The May 8th and 9th, 2020 concerts promise to be a trip down memory lane.
As I get ready for yet another amazing season with this talented ensemble, I wish to warmly invite you to be a part of the audience and look forward to seeing you at our concerts. On behalf of CVO, I want to welcome you to our 2019-2020 season!
See you at the concerts!
Antonio Llaca, M.M
Coro Vivo Ottawa - Artistic Director
About Coro Vivo
Coro Vivo Ottawa is a vibrant, friendly, community choir attracting members from across the National Capital Region. We perform two to three major concerts per year and sing an eclectic repertoire; from classical works such as Brahms Requiem, Haydn Lord Nelson Mass and the Rutter Gloria, through Opera choruses, music from Broadway shows, and Folk music from around the world. For major performances, we often hire professional musicians and soloists.
We rehearse one evening per week; Tuesday evening, and one Saturday per month. Each rehearsal session lasts for three hours. Our seasons start in September and run through May.
Our Christmas Concert is usually performed at Orleans United Church but our spring venues have included: St Joseph's Church, St Francois d’Assise Church, Dominion Chalmers United Church, Christ Church Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral, St Andrews Presbyterian Church and Centrepointe Theatre.
Literally translated, Coro Vivo means "lively choir". While fitting, perhaps even more appropriate would be "joyous choir". We enjoy singing together and the ongoing challenge of singing better.
Auditions - Come join us!
Coro Vivo will be holding open auditions for all voices Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 at 6 PM!These auditions will be held at Orleans United Church (1111 Orleans Blvd, Ottawa, ON) (directions) To arrange an audition, or to sit in on one of our rehearsals, or to obtain more information, please contact CVO Membership.
Those interested in auditioning should complete an Audition Request Form in advance and forward it to us.
Cuban born, Antonio Llaca is an active conductor, teacher, and clinician. He studied conducting and classical guitar both in Canada and in South America. Mr. Llaca holds a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Université de Sherbrooke (Montreal campus) and has studied with world renowned masters.
In 2019 Mr. Llaca was appointed Director of Choral Activities at Carleton University where he conducts the choirs and teaches choral and instrumental conducting. He is also a professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Gatineau where he conducts the choirs and orchestra.
Since 2009, Mr. Llaca has conducted Coro Vivo Ottawa (CVO). In addition to this, he often collaborates with numerous ensembles and prepares choruses for Canadian orchestras and artists such as The Tenors and touring international orchestras such as the China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra. His choral ensembles have performed on the national and international stage including the National Arts Centre, Canada, the Tintqiao Performing Arts Centre, China, and Carnegie Hall, USA. His choirs have been award recipients at international choral competitions.
Mr. Llaca is a sought-after choral clinician, having had a chance to present workshops at various Canadian and international institutions, and festivals including with the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) in Beijing 2018. As an instrumentalist, he is often called to perform at several festivals and in instrumental ensembles across Canada including the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and Montreal's Orchestre Métropolitain.
Mr. Llaca is an advocate for Canadian choral music, incorporating prominent Canadian content in his programming, as well as commissioning choral pieces for his concerts from local composers. He has been known for his innovative programming of new works as well as seldom-performed works of music. In addition, Mr. Llaca has brought to the Ottawa music scene seldom performed works by New World early music composers such as William Billings, Esteban Salas, José Angel Lamas, and Manuel de Zumaya, among others.
Mr. Llaca has toured in Canada, Latin America and Asia with his ensembles. He has earned a reputation for being a passionate conductor and pedagogue who is regarded for his musicality and knowledge of the choral art. Mr Llaca’s 2019-2020 season will include performances with visiting choral ensembles from USA and the Czech Republic, a joint performance of the Brahms Requiem with the Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau, and he will lead a conference on Cuban choral music at the PODIUM national conference in Montreal, Canada.
Louise is an accomplished musician, holding Bachelor of Music and Master of Education degrees from the University of Ottawa. She is trained in solfege and choral technique, and has served as an accompanist for the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, le Théâtre Lyrique de Hull, as well as many professional singers, instrumentalists and various choirs.
Formerly, Louise was an ear-training teacher at the University of Ottawa under the tutelage of renowned conductor Agnes Grossman. She studied piano with Jean-Paul Sevilla and Jacinthe Couture in Montreal, and has studied accompanying with Evelyn Greenberg.
Louise has had many invitations, from groups of all ages, to give workshops on ear training and accompaniment. She has served as accompanist for the University Choir and le Théâtre Lyrique de Hull, and has accompanied professional singers and instrumentalists when making recordings for the CBC.
Recently, Louise retired from her position as a full-time music and drama teacher with the French Public School Board, directing two award-wining choirs of 60 children per chorus, aged six – twelve. She then joined forces with Lise Maisonneuve to establish le Chœur des jeunes francophones d'Ottawa, a blossoming youth choir where she served as a co-founder, joint conductor and pianist.
Currently, Louise is engaged as an accompanist for the Conservatoire de musique de Gatineau, and she continues to be involved as a consultant and accompanist in the Ottawa music community.
Coro Vivo Ottawa is privileged to have Louise as their long-standing accompanist, benefiting from her generosity, expertise and professional skills. She has accompanied Coro Vivo since 1990.
Coro Vivo is strongly committed to the community.
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Coro Vivo feels a strong commitment to its community, and is proud of this relationship and the spirit of mutual support. Members of the choir perform at senior residences, hospitals and civic events. The choir also performs special concerts for sponsors and participates in fundraisers for other community organizations.
Supporting Local Talent
At spring concerts and most Christmas concerts, Coro Vivo often hires professional musicians and soloists; frequently contributing over $10,000 in a season. The choir supports predominantly local up-and-coming vocalists and enjoys following their progress. Two such examples are Keith Miller, who has had roles in Metropolitan Opera productions of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Puccini's Turandot, and Bizet's Carmen, as well as Joyce El Khoury, who has had roles in Metropolitan Opera productions of Puccini's Suor Angelica, Mozart's La Nozze di Figaro and Verdi's Simon Boccanegra.
Supporting Its Sponsors
Coro Vivo is very fortunate to have donor support from its community. In addition to providing these sponsors with recognition in concert programs and on the website, the choir encourages its members to support these businesses in their daily activities.
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
Coro Vivo is proud to have made its spring concert a benefit concert for CHEO. Since May 2006, the choir has raised over $73,000 for the hospital.
Canadian Amateur Musicians Association (CAMMAC)
Since fall 1993, Coro Vivo has held an annual weekend workshop at the beautiful premises of CAMMAC in the Laurentian Mountains. On these occasions, the choir hires a guest music director to lead the workshop; including such illustrious names as: Laurence Ewashko, Isabel Bernaus, Robert Filion, Iwan Edwards, Barbara Clark, Mark Sirrett, Lisette Canton and Michael Zaugg.
Other Community Involvement
- CVO regularly participates in Community Recitals or "Sing-outs" - Performances at seniors' residences by choir ensembles;
- Welcoming the 8th Orleans Scout Troop to Coro Vivo's Christmas concerts where the scouts help with tickets sales at the door, and are then able to raise money for their organization by selling refreshments at intermission;
- Sharing the use of its Yamaha grand piano with the Orleans United Church, where the choir rehearses each week; and
- Supporting its own members, such as one member who taught in Kuujjuaq, Northern Quebec. Member donations helped to provide two sets of hand bells, classroom supplies, and two sleeping bags, enabling two children to attend a school conference in Aupalak in Ungava Bay in Spring 2010.
Coro Vivo Ottawa history
Coro Vivo Ottawa has been part of the Ottawa-Gatineau area since 1984.
Coro Vivo history 2010 to present
- Going forward – We are excited by the fact that the history of the choir is still being made and we look forward to adding many more significant events in the life of Coro Vivo – a lively choir.
- 2015 – Marks Louise Léveillé’s 25th anniversary as accompanist with CVO. The choir is privileged to have this long standing association, benefiting from her generosity, expertise and professional skills. She has accompanied Coro Vivo since 1990.
- April 2015 – We were pleased to present Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, a sublime piece with orchestra that left our audience elated.
- December 2014 – Coro Vivo is honoured to present Gold and Glory, an outstanding work commissioned for CVO by Ottawa composer John Armstrong. Celebrating the choir’s 30th anniversary, the text and music match perfectly the values and narrative of the choir.
- May 2014 – Celebrating the anniversary in style, members gathered at Camelot Golf and Country Club for an evening of tribute and entertainment - dancing until closing. We were pleased to have our former director, David Chin, join us for the celebration.
- April 2014 – We were delighted to be invited to be part of a massed choir in collaboration with Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau, for a performance of Mozart’s Requiem at Maison de la Culture in Gatineau. Particularly thrilling was the opportunity to share the stage with Julie Nesrallah, mezzo-soprano extraordinaire!
- In preparation for the milestone, a committee is formed to put together a retrospective in picture form of the past thirty years. The displays featured prominently at both concerts throughout the season.
- 2014 – Marks the choir’s 30th anniversary and we celebrate with, among other projects, a concert of some of the best and most popular repertoire we have presented over the past thirty years. A Grand Night for Singing commemorates the “oldies but goldies”, celebrating thirty years of community involvement and music-making. Joan Eustace, co-founder of the choir, was in attendance.
- In addition to all of these projects, our talented director, Antonio Llaca, completes his Master’s degree in choral conducting.
- Prior to our Cuban departure, we present José Maria Vitier’s outstanding Cuban Mass, Misa Cubana, with orchestra — our Spanish is really starting to improve!
- February 2013 – We leave for the experience of a lifetime to spend a week in Havana, Cuba, listening to the rich musical culture, learning from different conductors, and also performing Canadian repertoire while visiting many beautiful sites and learning some history. Members perfect their interpretation and use of clave, the intrinsic rhythm integral to Cuban music.
- Tony’s Notes, an informative feature of CVO’s program handout, began in 2002 with Rutter’s Gloria. Previously, program notes were informally gathered via the administration committee before handing the task over to professional writer and CVO bass member, Tony Atherton. 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of Tony’s Notes, a welcomed feature of the program that continues into the present.
- 2012 – CVO’s Trivia Night and Silent Auction fundraiser takes place in preparation for our Cuban trip. The event is so popular and successful, it begins an annual tradition. Everyone has enormous fun!
- March 2011 – Coro Vivo joins the Ottawa Symphonic Ensemble (OSE) in its Inaugural Gala Concert held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The evening includes music from Korea as well as Handel's Zadok the Priest, and is received with tremendous enthusiasm.
- Our spring concert, Armonia Rinascimental, presenting European Madrigals from the XVI and XVII centuries, initiated CVO’s popular Commented Concert Series, where our insightful director, Antonio Llaca provides commentary, knowledge and understanding of the selections presented. The concert is well received, spawning a music series. Music for Romantic’s (2013), featuring music that defined an era, became the second Commented Concert in the series, and A World of Song (2015), celebrating folk-music from around the globe, the third of the commented concerts presented by Coro Vivo Ottawa.
- 2011 – CVO present two “firsts” for the choir. We begin the season with a presentation of Northern Lights, a concept-concert of exclusive Canadian content, featuring Canadian compositions and arrangements, and showcasing talent from across the nation.
- Meanwhile, we prepare our concert entitled Hooray for Hollywood. In a trip from Broadway to Hollywood, CVO celebrated well known melodies from the stage and silver screen. Presented in cabaret-style, audience members were seated at tables and served drinks and homemade treats during the performance. Leaving with bagged popcorn, audience raved at the novel presentation and music selection. Great fun!
- May 2010 – CVO presents Vivaldi’s Gloria, coupled with José Angel Lamas’ Popule Meus. Audiences have the opportunity to contrast two great pieces of sacred music, presented from two distinct cultures separated by distance and time.
- Antonio and the Admin Committee present the choir with the opportunity of a singing trip to Havana —there is an overwhelming positive response and so the planning begins.
- November 2010 – Coro Vivo sang the North American premiere of Meditatus, a jazz mass by Norwegian composer, Gunnar Hoff. An accomplished jazz combo that included our director, Antonio Llaca on acoustic guitar. A picture of our poster (designed by choir member Sharon MacWillam) advertising the concert appeared in a publication at the University of Tromso, Norway under the heading ‘Suksess for Hoffs Meditatus’.
- Fall 2010 – We opened an official page on Facebook, launching us into social media.
Coro Vivo history 2000 to 2009
- Fall 2009 – Our initial website was redesigned featuring an updated look and considerably more information
- Fall 2009 – Antonio Llaca joined us as chorus master and a new and exciting chapter began in the life of the choir. Our inaugural performance, Navidad Nuestra / Our Christmas, presented a dynamic concert full of colour, spirit and Latin-American roots – not unlike our gifted conductor. Concert attendance for both performances sold out in record number.
- Spring 2009 – Coro Vivo celebrated its 25th anniversary, and said thank you and farewell to director David Chin. Under his capable direction spanning 20 years, the choir grew and improved significantly. We benefitted greatly from his patient instruction and varied choice of programs, striving to maximise our sound and enhance repertoire. Bag pipes were used to ceremonially pipe out the concert, and a gala dinner and dance was held.
- Winter and Spring 2008 – Coro Vivo joined with Isabel Bernaus and The Jubilate Singers of Toronto to present Brahms’ German Requiem in concert for Ottawa and Toronto audiences. In February the two choirs held a very successful weekend workshop in Kingston with David Bowser, conductor of the North York Concert Orchestra. The March 29th concert with the two choirs was held at Eglise St. Francois d’Assise with acclaimed soloist Maria Knapik, Jonathan Estabrooks, an Ottawa area soloist who was attending the Juilliard School of Music, and an orchestra of professional Ottawa musicians. On April 5th and 6th, together with the Jubilate Singers and the North York Concert Orchestra, we presented Brahms’ Requiem at Grace Church on-the-Hill in Toronto.
- Spring 2007 – We were delighted to learn that our application for a capital grant to The Ontario Trillium Foundation was successful and we would receive funding to do major restoration work on our piano and to purchase some much needed lighting equipment. Through the years we have been very grateful for the generous support of granting agencies from both The Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Ottawa. These agencies have made possible the purchase of acquisitions and repairs, as previously mentioned, as well as purchase of our piano, our risers and recording equipment.
- Fall 2006 – Blackburn Chorus becomes Coro Vivo Ottawa. The name was suggested by director, David Chin and chosen by the choir from a long list of possible choices. It was decided a name change was needed to better reflect our evolution into a lively, citywide choir.
- The choir’s first benefit concert for the CHEO Foundation is presentation of Mozart’s stirring Requiem and Vesperae de Dominica, the latter a rare treat for Ottawa audiences given the infrequency of performance.
- Spring 2006 – The choir decided to donate the proceeds of the spring concert, after covering expenses, to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). In subsequent years we have continued to dedicate our concert profits to CHEO, offering benefit concerts every spring. In addition, the choir sells lottery tickets at the time of the spring concert. The lottery is set up for us by the CHEO Foundation, and the prize is airline tickets donated, originally by Zoom Airlines and, at present, by Westjet. The benefit concert and lottery have made it possible for us to donate over $54,000 to the CHEO Foundation over the years (2006-2015).
- Christmas 2005 – Christmas with Brass features three compositions by the acclaimed Ottawa composer James Wright, demonstrating the choir’s ongoing commitment to promote the talents of local and Canadian artists.
- Spring 2005 – The choir performs in a fundraising event at Dominion-Chalmers United Church for the orphaned victims of the devastating Christmas Day ’04 Pacific Rim Tsunami. We also participate in East Ottawa Choirfest, a massed benefit concert for the same reason. Then, we perform our planned concert, Music from the Stage, again with movement and choreography, reaffirming the choir’s entertainment skills.
- Christmas 2004 – Sees the choir venture into unchartered territory as we embark on the Rhythms of Christmas, music from Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Mastering the complex rhythms advances us further, offering new repertoire to explore.
- Spring 2004 – Marks our 20th anniversary year which we celebrate by singing Handel’s Messiah with Virtuosi Orchestra at the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral Basicilica in April, and a performance of medleys of favourite tunes from the 20th Century in May.
- Christmas 2003 – From the Middle Ages to contemporary selections, including an engaging performance of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the choir continues to offer appealing, quality Christmas concerts.
- Spring 2003 – Was a very busy, three concert season. After our Christmas concert, we teamed up with the Virtuosi Orchestra to present Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Gloria in D major in February, followed in May by a performance at Centerpointe Theatre, a collaboration with the Central Band of the Armed Forces on a musical review of popular music from the Twentieth Century (this was all done off-book with costumes, choreography and lots of memorization). It was a real thrill to participate in this fundraising event for the Canadian War Museum.
- Christmas 2002 – Showcases John Rutter’s Gloria, but we include a number of other Glorias for contrast. We sing a variety of carols and works by Andrea Gabrieli. The choir steadily presents a challenging repertoire, growing in skill and caliber.
- Spring 2002 – We are privileged to sing Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Shubert’s Mass in G and Mendelssohn’s Four Sacred Partsongs at Christ Church Cathedral. The choir is split in two, presenting from the balcony and up-front on the risers. The surrounding sound is incredible.
- November 2001 – Blackburn Chorus releases a Christmas album entitled “Christmas with the Blackburn Chorus” distributed locally through HMV Music and CD Warehouse.
- Christmas 2001 – The pièce de résistance is John Rutter’s glorious Magnificat, presented with orchestra.
- Spring 2001 – Has us having the time of our lives singing and dancing with Kathy Armstrong and the Baobab Youth Performers in a concert featuring African rhythms. Choristers incorporate movement in the performance, enhancing the experience for audience and singers.
- Christmas 2000 – We sang a combination of traditional and contemporary carols in English, French, German and Latin by various composers, featuring Canadian composers Imant Raminsh’s Magnificat and Healy Willan’s Hodie. John Rutter, Johannes Brahms and Franz Joseph Haydn figure prominently, further raising the level of choral proficiency.
- May 2000 – With support in the form of a grant from the City of Ottawa, the choir purchased a complete set of new risers and inaugurated them with two performances of Mozart’s Requiem.
Coro Vivo history 1990 to 1999
- Spring 1997 –In preparation to present a program of spirituals, we invited Trevor Payne of the Montreal Jubilation Singers to explain the history of spirituals and to help us sing them with some of the joyful expression his choir exhibits.
- Fall 1996 – A well organized sponsorship program was begun as an initiative to invite citizens and corporations to support the choir financially. In the past 15 years, in excess of $140,000 has been raised, an indication of the strong community support that we are grateful to enjoy. These funds have allowed us to hire many local vocalists, soloists, and orchestral and folk musicians enabling us to expand our repertoire. It has given our choir financial stability and the opportunity to reach out to the community.
- Blackburn Chorus premiered the Canadian Song of Freedom during the Ottawa ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Holland. The Canadian Song of Freedom was commissioned by Canada Remembers for the event and was a collaboration between Robert Swerdlow and Andrew Huggett. A 26-voice youth choir, formed for the occasion, joined us.
- Summer 1995 – A trip to Nova Scotia was organized by choir member Bob Mosher with the help of member Gary Boyd. The choir sang at Canada Day celebrations in Halifax and at St. Andrew’s United Church in a fundraiser for St George’s Anglican Church, a Halifax landmark that was badly damaged by fire earlier in the year. We also gave concerts at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, and in Wolfville at the United Baptist Church. The concerts featured choral favourites from classical, spiritual, folksong, and Broadway genres.
- March 1995 – The choir helped organize and attend a workshop with Elmer Isler and the Elmer Isler Singers, Toronto’s distinguished professional chamber ensemble.
- Jan-Dec 1994 – The choir celebrated its 10th anniversary. Choir member Jean Martin wrote a book entitled “Blackburn Chorus, The First Ten Years”, detailing our history, special events, our directors and accompanists, and included photos and comments from members. A self-titled 10th anniversary CD was produced for sale to the public, and a gala dinner and dance was held.
- Fall 1993 – The choir held its first annual workshop weekend at CAMMAC Music Camp on beautiful Lac MacDonald in the Laurentians, Quebec. Choral music specialist, Barbara Clark, was our guest director for the weekend. We learned a great deal and enjoyed working with Barbara so much that we decided to make the workshop weekend an annual event. Since its first weekend, guest directors have included, among others, Laurence Ewashko, Iwan Edwards, Mark Sirrett, Lisette Canton, Robert Fillion, and Michael Zaugg. We also launched an important social tradition that CAMMAC weekend, our “Saturday Night Variety Show” featuring the talents of our choir members. 2013 marked the 20th anniversary of the highly anticipated annual weekend event, which continues yearly each fall.
- March 1993 – The choir purchased a grand piano, once a stage piano for Anne Murray. It has been housed in the sanctuary of Orleans United Church where it has provided Ottawa’s east end with a concert venue. Orleans United Church has been our rehearsal hall and Christmas concert venue since that time.
- Spring 1992 – Composer Gilles Leclerc, organist at Eglise St. Francois d’Assise, was commissioned to write a choral composition for us for our upcoming 10th anniversary in two years, entitled “Psalm 98”. It was presented at our 10th anniversary concert in 1994.
- Spring 1992 – Together with Gordon Slater and the Divertimento Orchestra, we presented Brahms German Requiem at Eglise St. Francois d’Assise. Our soloists were Laurence Ewashko and Laura Sziubaniuk. Ottawa Citizen Critic Joseph Susskind said of the performance, “I think Brahms would have approved.”
- November 1991 – Regina de Hoog (the choir member who, as a former member of the Oberpleis Orchestra, had been the inspiration and principle organizer of our Germany exchange) and the choir received the City of Gloucester Achievement Award as cultural ambassadors for the city.
- Summer 1991 – Members of the Oberpleis Chamber Orchestra in Germany hosted Blackburn Chorus. We visited Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn and gave two concerts: one classical with the Oberpleis Orchestra, which included the Bach cantata, Wachet Auf, (our soprano soloist was our former conductor, Irene Thompson) and a special version of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy arranged by the conductor of the Oberpleis orchestra. The second concert featured a potpourri of choral music written and/or arranged by Canadian composers. A highlight for many choristers was an invitation for us to sing in the choir loft of the spectacular gothic Cologne Cathedral.
- 1990 – The choir was very pleased to hire Louise Léveillé, a talented, accomplished accompanist who taught ear training at Ottawa University for ten years and had accompanied professional singers and instrumentalists on CBC recordings.
Coro Vivo history 1984 to 1989
In January of 1984, Coro Vivo Ottawa was founded as an east end community choir. With just seventeen members and originally called Blackburn Chorus, it soon grew into a much bigger choir of 60-65 singers, with city-wide membership and a varied and challenging repertoire. Some of the highlights include:
- Fall 1989 – Irene Thompson retired and Blackburn Chorus hired a new director, David Chin, on the recommendation of the Music Department of Ottawa University.
- Spring 1989 – The choir hosted the Oberpleis Chamber Orchestra from Oberpleis, Germany. Together we put on a concert of Bach and Beethoven for a large audience at Orleans United Church. Soloists were Irene Thompson and Garth Hampson (in full dress uniform of the RCMP).
- 1984-1989 – The choir sang at functions such as the Silver Broom Curling Banquet, Gloucester City Hall Christmas Exchange and the Telesat Gala Christmas Concert at City Hall. Our repertoire included spirituals, folksongs, show tunes from Hollywood and Broadway, favourite Christmas carols and many choir classics.
- 1984 – Irene Thompson, choir director of the Ottawa Welsh Choir, and her Blackburn Hamlet neighbour, Joan Eustace, an accomplished accompanist, placed an ad looking for interested singers in the Blackburn Hamlet newspaper, The Banar, and set things in motion for the formation of Blackburn Chorus.