The VCC has collaborated with a number of high-profile ensembles and soloists, including the Ensemble vocal de Lausanne, the Tudor Singers of Montreal, the King's Singers, the Moscow and Stockholm Chamber Choirs, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Purcell String Quartet, the Canadian Brass, Colin Tilney, Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall and Ben Heppner. It has appeared under guest conductors John Eliot Gardiner, Eric Ericson, Helmuth Rilling, Andrew Litton, Tönu Kaljuste, and Frieder Bernius, and itself has been a guest of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
In 1973 the choir became the first Canadian ensemble to win a first-place award in Let the Peoples Sing, the international contest sponsored by the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union, and in 1989 it was named Ensemble of the Year by the Canadian Music Council. In 1994 it was awarded the grand prize at the Takarazuka International Chamber Chorus Contest and in 1998 was the recipient of Chorus America's Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence. Jon Washburn has been honoured on numerous occasions for his work with the choir.
Repertoire and Contributions
The VCC's repertoire is wide-ranging, with a distinct emphasis on contemporary Canadian works and on music that fosters virtuosity and innovation in choral performance and composition. In particular, it has become a specialist in the music of R. Murray Schafer and Imant Raminsh and has premiered a number of their works, including Schafer's A Garden of Bells (1984), Once on a Windy Night (1998), and Fall Into The Light (2004), and Raminsh's Ave Verum Corpus (1977) and What Voices in an Unknown Tongue (2002). In total, the choir has commissioned or premiered some 100 Canadian compositions, most notably by Stephen Chatman, Healey Willan, Thomas Baker, Jean Coulthard, Alexina Louie, David Keeble, Rudolf Komorous, Bruce Ruddell, Jerome Summers, Brian Tate, Jon Washburn, and Elliot Weisgarber.
The VCC also incorporates large-scale works from the standard Western choral repertory such as the requiem masses by Mozart and Brahms, Orff's Carmina Burana, and Bach's Mass in B Minor. It has been heard regularly on CBC radio and is featured on more than 40 recordings, many of which appear on their own label, Grouse Records (established 1982). For its album An Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts, the choir received a 1995 Juno nomination and won the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors' 1996 Outstanding Choral Recording award.
Reflecting its support for both professional and community choral music, the VCC has sponsored a number of educational projects for young musicians and composers. In 1974 it was named choir-in-residence of the Vancouver School Board, and in 1981 it launched its annual National Conductors' Symposium. The choir established the biennial Young Composers' Competition in 1992, and has offered five other programs catering to elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students of music. For its contributions to the music community, the Vancouver Chamber Choir was honoured with Chorus America's Education and Outreach Award in 2000.
BaroqueFest: Bach - Purcell - Handel - Monteverdi. CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Washburn conductor, Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, Corboz conductor, Okada soprano, Margison tenor, Rudolph flute, Crozier countertenor, Geise tenor, Vermeulen bass. 1986. CBC-SM 5075
Beckwith Harp of David - Weisgarber Night. Purcell String Quartet, Pullan baritone, Fawcett double bass. 1989. Centrediscs CMC-CD 3790
Christmas Carols from Many Lands. 1977. CBC SM-338
Due North: Chatman choral works. Cole oboe, english horn, Haworth narrator, L.L. Thomas piano, Volpe harp. 1988. Centrediscs CMC-CD 3388
Earth Chants: The Music of Imant Raminsh. CBC Radio Orchestra. 2002. CBC Records
Due West: Music of Stephen Chatman. 2000. CBC Records MVCD 1132
A Garden of Bells: Schafer choral music. 1986. Grouse GR-101
Handel Coronation Anthems. CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Bernardi conductor. 1983. CBC SM-5031C/(Zadok The Priest) CBC BHSCD300 (CD)
Love Songs for a Small Planet: Glick - Raminsh - Louie. 1993. Centrediscs CMCCD 4893
Music of the Americas: Schafer - Willan - Raminsh - et al. 1983. Grouse WRC1-2584/Grouse GR-100/Marquis MAR-106
Once on a Windy Night: The Choral Music of R. Murray Schafer, vol. 2. Grouse 105
Rise! Shine! The Music of Jon Washburn. 1994. Grouse 102
Simple Gifts: Raminsh - Applebaum - McDougall 1988. CBC SMCD-5097
Songs of the Lights: Raminsh. 1992. CBC Records SMCD 5116
Sweet Was The Song: Willan - Praetorius - et al. Robbin mezzo-soprano, Mowatt harp. 1982. Marquis ERA-107
The World of Folksongs: Willcocks - Brahms - et al. 1977. KVP 700G
Vancouver Chamber Choir. Handel - Debussy - Barber. 1975, 1976. CBC SM-303
Author Max Wyman, Sarah Church
Cummings, Bob. 'The singers and the sound of the Vancouver Chamber Choir,' Performing Arts in Canada, Spring 1978
Lower, Thelma Reid. 'The exacting art of a professional choir,' Music vol 4, Apr 1981
Poole, Elissa. "Jon Washburn: Canadian music maestro," Opus: Canada's Essential Classical Music Source, Winter 2001/2002
Links to Other Sites
BC Choral Federation
The BC Choral Federation website features concert calendars, links to B.C. choral groups, and related resources.
Association of Canadian Choral Communities
The website for the Association of Canadian Choral Communities. Features a listing of Canadian and international festivals as well as the latest news about activities and projects. Click on "Links" for links to provincial choral organizations and related sites.
Vancouver Chamber Choir
The website for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver's acclaimed professional vocal ensemble. Features an online newsletter and audio clips from their recordings.
The website for Chorus America, an organization that provides information, publications, conferences, consulting, training programs, surveys, networking, and awards to support choruses in North America.
A Garden of Bells - The Choral Music of R Murray Schafer, Vol 1
Listen to brief audio clips from the recording "A Garden of Bells - The Choral Music of R Murray Schafer, Vol 1" featuring the Vancouver Chamber Choir. From the emusic.com website.