Saskatchewan Choral Federation

Podium Review

Spadina Avenue was alive with the sounds of music as Podium 2010 sailed down the mighty South Saskatchewan River to dock at the beautiful Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon from May 20 – 23, 2010. And what a fabulous sound it was!

2010 National Youth Choir (photo L Heuchert) 

<-- 2010 National Youth Choir, Dr. Victoria Meredith, Conductor  (photo credit: L Heuchert)

For four days, clinicians and choirs shared their talents with conference delegates and local audiences in historic Saskatoon venues such as Knox United Church, St. John’s Anglican Church and the Delta Bessborough Hotel.

Podium 2010 hosted three Highlight Concerts with the Canadian Chamber Choir on Thursday, the National Youth Choir of Canada on Friday and the Elora Festival Singers on Sunday evening. All three concerts were inspiring to say the least. Each provided its own great selection of Canadian repertoire and opportunities to observe many different vocal techniques.

Canadian Chamber Choir (credit: L Heuchert)   Elora Festival Singers (photo: L Heuchert)
Canadian Chamber Choir, Dr. Julia Davids, Conductor (photo credit: L Heuchert)  Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison, Conductor (photo credit: L Heuchert)

In addition to Highlight Concerts, seven Spotlight Concerts took place during the Podium weekend. Thursday began with the Saskatoon Children’s Choir and Saskatoon Chamber Singers followed by Spiritus Chamber Choir (Calgary) / Da Camera Singers (Edmonton) and EnChor Chamber Choir (Vancouver) and Elektra Women’s Choir (Vancouver) on Friday.

Saturday was ‘Focus on Youth’ day and featured choirs included Flatland Singers (Manitoba) / DMCice Jazz (Winnipeg); Swift Current Comp Chamber Singers / Luther College High School Senior Choir (Regina) and Lux Luceat (University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, University of Manitoba Singers and the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers). Sunday choral offerings began with the Elora Festival Singers as guest choir at St. John’s Anglican Church followed by an afternoon concert with Juventus Chamber Choir (Regina) and the University of Regina Chamber Singers.

Without a doubt, Podium 2010 presented excellent material by superb choirs. With programming from children to seniors, traditional to jazz, this year’s choral concert series had something for everyone to experience and enjoy. A huge thank-you to all the choirs who attended. Your energy, excitement and enthusiasm for the choral art contributed greatly to a very successful Podium!

The Podium 2010 Keynote presentation was a little off the beaten track. ‘Primadonna Choralis’ featured Mary Lou Fallis, Peter Tiefenbach and a local choir of thousands (well, at least 30!) who provided a hilarious look at the history of western choral music from the beginning (think caveman) to the present. Audience members found out the real function of vocal cords, the Oratorio Top Ten and the meaning behind plainchant. In addition, they were some of the first to hear a new Handel Anthem and ‘spiced up’ Canada Day material. . . .    

Thirty-eight workshops were offered throughout the conference and featured sessions by Patricia Abbott (French Diction Made Easy!), Dr. Philip Copeland (Technology for the 21st Century Choir); Caron Daley (Depending the Mind-Body Connection in Singing: Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the Choral Rehearsal); Morna Edmundson (Developing Tone by Choosing the Right Repertoire); Laurier Fagnan (Transform Your Choir’s Sound with Bel Canto Vocal Principles); Dr. Elroy Friesen (Einojuhani Rautavaara’s All Night Vigil: From Cathedral to Concert Hall); Dr. John Hooper (The Choral Music of Robin John King, Canadian Composer); Robert Ingari (Approaching the Choral Score; Making Gesture Meaningful); Julia Jamison (Vocal Health Through Alignment); Diane Loomer (Building a Male Choir in an SATB Town; Oldies But Goodies – Senior But Still Skilled Singers!); Dr. Marta McCarthy (The Choral Music of Robert Evans – Bridges to Humanity); Dr. Larry Nickel (The Surviving & Thriving High School Music Teacher; Writing for the Choir); Vernon Sanders (The Choir in Modern Worship); Dr. Brett Scott (The Choral Conductor and the Voice Teacher as Collaborators; New Pieces from South of the Border); Dr. Mark Sirett (Keep Them Singing!; Musical Imagery with Children; SATB Reading Session); and Peter Tiefenbach (SSA Reading Session).

Brian Tate was Podium’s Feature Clinician and he presented It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing!: Lift Up Your Voice: The Gospel Experience; World Rhythms; and ‘WOW’ing Your Audience at several sessions throughout the weekend in conjunction with the Swift Current Comp Chamber Singers, the Luther College High School Senior Choir and singers from the Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute choral program including DMCice Jazz.
Masterclasses were directed by Dr. Julia Davids with the assistance of the Canadian Chamber Choir. This year’s apprentice conductors were Carrie Tennant, (BC); Cheryll Chung, (ON); Susan Farrell, (AB); and Vaughn Roste, (AB/LA).

There were lots of things to see and do at Podium 2010! Fifteen exhibitors including ACFGA Tour Consultants; A Tempo; The Bandstand Ltd.; Boomtown Drums; Briercrest College & Seminary; Canada-Cuba Sports and Cultural Festivals; Coastal Sounds; Congress Travel; Les Editions GAM Inc.; Ellison Travel & Tours; Long & McQuade; Le Mondial Choral Loto-Quebec; Music Plus Corp; Podium 2010; Small World and the University of Saskatchewan Department of Music provided LOTS of browsing & shopping opportunities. 

Delegates enjoyed a little western hospitality during their visit to Saskatoon with a reception at the exclusive Boffin’s Club at the University of Saskatchewan, a Ukrainian Fowl Supper and Pitchfork Fondue. Receptions and pub nights held throughout the weekend provided opportunities to catch up with old friends and colleagues and meet new.

The Gala Banquet and Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening was a glamorous affair with ACCC awards being presented in several categories including Outstanding Choral Publication (Elmer Iseler Choral Visionary by Walter Pitman; published by Dundurn Press); Outstanding Choral Work (The Stars Point The Way by Mark Sirett); Outstanding Choral Recording (Shadowland, DaCapo Chamber Choir directed by Leonard Enns; Recording Producer: Earl McCluskie; Recording Company: Chestnut Hall Music; Engineer: Ed Marshall, Marshall Arts Productions); Outstanding or Innovative Sponsorship (Cypress Choral Music); Outstanding Choral Event (Brown Eagle, Black Raven – Cantabile Choirs of Kingston); Outstanding Thesis or Dissertation (Adult Community Choirs: Toward a Balance Between Leisure Participation and Musical Achievement by Rachel Rensink-Hoff); and finally, the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Diane Loomer, C.M. and her husband, Dr. Richard (Dick) Loomer for their years of exemplary service and unwavering support for the Canadian choral community.

New this year was the inclusion of awards ceremony for the National Competition for Canadian Choirs. Winners announced at the Podium Banquet included Children’s Choirs - Mississauga Children’s Choir, Toronto (Thomas Bell); Youth Choirs: Upper Voices (SA) - Cantilon Chamber Choir, Edmonton (Heather Johnson); Youth Choirs: Mixed Voices – Canterbury High School Chamber Chorus, Ottawa (Laurie Hamilton); Mixed-Voice Community-Based Adult Choirs – Spiritus Chamber Choir, Calgary (Timothy Shantz); Mixed Voice Collegiate Choirs – Memorial University of Newfoundland Chamber Choir, St. Johb’s (Douglas Dunsmore, assisted by Darryl Cremasco); Mixed Voice Chamber Choirs – Halifax Camerata Singers, Halifax (Jeff Joudrey); Equal-Voice Men’s Choirs - No 1st place award given; Equal-Voice Women’s Choirs – Elektra Women’s Choir, Vancouver (Morna Edmundson); Liturgical Choirs – St. Barnabas Anglican Church Choir, Ottawa (Wesley R. Warren); Pan-Cultural Choirs – No 1st place award given; Contemporary Music – Vancouver Cantata Singers, Burnaby (Eric Hannan) and the Healey Willan Prize was awarded to Halifax Camerata Singers, Halifax (Jeff Joudrey).

The Podium 2010 Committee is deeply grateful to this year’s corporate sponsors – SaskCulture, Saskatchewan Lotteries, City of Saskatoon, University of Saskatchewan Music Department, Saskatchewan Arts Board; SaskTel; RBC Foundation; C.M. Orizny Legal Professional Corp; Small World; Darren’s Music Place, Budget Car & Truck Rentals; Gary Frigon Construction Ltd.; Bal-Eden Singing Stars; The Ursuline Nuns of Bruno; Saskatoon Lion’s Band; Culligan Water Matters; Pelican Signs; Bazaar & Novelty; Prairie Mobile Communications; McNally Robinson Booksellers; U of S Bookstore; blossoms and Scott Phelps & Mason (Map Four Management Corp).

The organizers would also like to recognize the dedication and hard work of the volunteer contingent, without whom this whole event could not have happened. Thank you to the volunteer committee members, Phyllis Johnston and crew for their outstanding contribution to this year’s Podium, on-site volunteers and the SCF office staff for their oversight and management of this year’s conference.

All in all, it was a great conference. Make sure you don’t miss out when Podium lands next in Ottawa in 2012!