The History of the Oakville Children's Choir
The story of the Oakville Children's Choir began in May 1994 when a small classified ad appeared in the local papers announcing the formation of a children's choir in Oakville. These small clippings give little indication of the remarkable progress the choir would make over the next several years.
Year 17: 2010-2011
- A Kaleidoscope of Singing
- Indigo Voices Youth Choir introduced
- Sarah Morrison wins Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting
- Senior Choir performed at PACT Urban Peace Program in Toronto, with Oakville Symphony at Family Christmas concert
- Intermediate Choir guest performers, Mississauga Temple Band Christmas Concert
- Indigo Voices guest Oakville Entertainers "I'll Fly Away"
- Senior Choir participates in OVF, wins Peel Festival, invited MusicFest national festival, places 2nd in Provincial competition
Year 16: 2009 - 2010
- Hosted Sedmihlasek Children's Choir from Prague Czech Republic
- Collaborations included with ArtHouse, Oakville Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Male Choir, Canadian Music Competitions, and Mississauga Temple Band
- Participated in community events for Lighthouse for Grieving Children, St. Lucia Learning Project, Stand Tall and Speak Up (Anti-Bullying),Women for Women in Afghanistan
- New uniforms were introduced featuring blue jackets for senior choir girls, blue ties for boys and blue satin/organza chamber skirts
- Fundraisers Jewels & Blue Jeans
- Senior Chamber Tour to International Choral Festival of Preveza Greece - won 3 silver medals
Year 14: 2007-2008
- Boy Choir attained Gold-Medal standing at the Kiwanis Festival
- Senior Choir toured Argentina
- Participated in Bright Lights
- Joint concert with Boni Pueri Czech Boys Choir
- Special Guest performers at "An Oakville Christmas" concert
- Participated in "Earth Hour" concert
- Fundraisers - Taste of Tango Gala and Project Runway Choir fashion show
Year 13: 2006-2007
- Boy Choir Festival
- Senior Choir's Trip to Prague Children's Music Festival
- Chamber Choir tour of Italy
- Glenda Crawford conducts her last concert with The OCC
- Sarah Morrison is hired as the new Artistic Director of The OCC
- Janet Stachow appointed Associate Artistic Director
Year 12: 2005-2006
- The OCC joins with the Oakville Symphony Orchestra to present A Night at the Proms
- "A Canadian Christmas" with guest artist Mary Lou Fallis
- Place of the Blest CD released
- The Danish Choir Sankt Anna from Copenhagen performs in concert with The OCC
- The OCC host A Baroque Festival with renowned conductor Ivars Taurins
- Joint concert with the Oakville Chamber Orchestra
- ChoralFest, a two day elementary school choir festival hosted by the OCC
- The first Biannual Boy Choir Festival hosted by the OCC
- A tour of Vienna, Salzburg and Prague on the occasion of Mozart's 250th birthday
Year 11: 2004-2005
- OCC performs at ACDA National Convention in LA
- Dinah Christie participates in the Christmas Concert
- A summer camp was held for young children
- Chamber Choir performs in Faces of Femininity in Los Angeles
The second decade began with the news that the Chamber Choir had been selected to perform at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles in February. This was a great honour for the choir and the trip was a huge success.
In January, the Ontario Trillium Foundation announced a major grant of $130,000 over three years help the OCC to develop its fund-raising ability and hire a full-time fund raising manager.
Dinah Christie was the special guest at the Community Carol Sing this year and she read stories selected by author Lawrence Hill from entries submitted to an OCC contest. Box office proceeds from this event went to Oakville Big Sisters Association who sent along a "Little Sisters Choir"
In April the Intermediate Choir hosted a very successful Training Choir Festival (their third) with eight guest choirs.
The Senior Choir was very busy with activities that included a guest appearance at the Oakville Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert, and workshops in Buffalo and Kitchener. They finished off with three busy days recording the choir's 4th CD.
Year 10: 2003-2004
- 10th anniversary celebrations
- Senior Choir received a both a gold medal in the children's choir category, and a silver medal in the Folksong category in Bremen, Germany for the Choir Olympics
- 10th Anniversary Collection CD recorded
- National finalist in the CBC Choral competition - both in the Chamber and Children's categories
- The Elmer Iseler Singers joined the OCC for the Christmas Concert
The 10th anniversary year was eagerly anticipated as a season of celebration. A new look was introduced with new uniforms for all choirs, and plans were laid for an exciting season that included the following events:
- The guest appearance of the Elmer Iseler Singers at the Christmas concert
- A special performance for seniors of the Community Carol Sing sponsored by Tim Horton's
- A day-long birthday celebration culminating in an evening gala concert featuring guest mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess and the debut of the alumni choir
- The release of the third CD, "Celebrating 10 Years" featuring the best of 10 years worth of concerts
- "Oakville Sings", a concert hosted by The OCC with performances by eight other Oakville Choirs
- Introduction of the overnight summer camp, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Oakville
In the middle of this activity, the Senior and Chamber Choirs received word from the CBC that they were finalists in the National Radio Competition for Amateur Choirs. They traveled to Toronto on April 27 and 28 to participate in the live broadcast finals and each placed 2nd in their respective categories.
To top the year off, when the Senior Choir traveled to Germany for the 3rd Choir Olympics, they achieved Gold Standing and placed second for silver in the Children's Choir Class. The Oakville Children's Choir could truly be said to have come of age.
Year 9: 2002-2003
- Chamber Choir participates in Oakville Onstage celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
- Chamber choir competes in Hungary and qualifies for Choir Olympics
- The Chamber Choir receives gold standing in Budapest
- Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada was the guest host at the Community Carol Concert
Year 8: 2001-2002
- Boy Choir formed
- Release of first two CDs
- Susan Aglukark is the special guest at the OCC Christmas Concert
- Intermediate Choir hosts its 1st Training Choir Festival
- Senior Choir tour to International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River BC and places 2nd in its category
- Glenda Crawford is awarded the Queen's Jubilee medal for creating and developing The Oakville Children's Choir
- First "Celebrate Oakville" fund-raising gala event takes place
When rehearsals for the eighth season began, there was a new choir bringing the number within The OCC organization to five. The Boy Choir was formed with all boys from the other choirs to give them a chance to work together.
A big event near the start of the year was the launch party at the Glen Abbey Golf Club on November 15, 2001 of The OCCs first two CDs: "Home for the Holidays" by the Chamber Choir, and "Poets, Philosophers and Friends" by the Senior Choir.
This was followed by many exciting events in a very busy year. It was a year of many new initiatives:
- First Community Carol Sing with proceeds going to charity
- First Celebrate Oakville (gala fundraiser)
- First Training Choir Festival hosted by Intermediate Choir
- Beginning of Vocal Coaching
- First year of Artists Spotlights (a collaboration with local artists to display their work on program covers)
The season wrapped up with the Senior Choir winning 2nd place in the Children's Choir category at their first international choral competition, Kathaumixw, held in Powell River, British Columbia.
Year 7: 2000-2001
- Senior Choir tour to Newfoundland
- Choir office opens
- Intermediate Choir travels to Guelph for a workshop & performance
The theory program started in the 7th season. This has enhanced the musical training of choristers and contributed to the choir's subsequent successes.
This was also the year the Senior and Intermediate Choirs prepared their first CD. Although not launched until the eighth season, the experience of perfecting the songs for the taping prepared the choirs well for their tour to Festival 500 in St. John's, Newfoundland. This was extremely successful from the point of view of forming relationships with other choirs and the seeds were sown for the joint concert with the Elmer Iseler Singers in 2003.
The OCC took a further step towards maturity this season when a Trillium Grant was obtained for opening up a choir office. Administration of the choir finally moved from Glenda Crawford's basement to the first choir office on Argus Road.
Year 6: 1999-2000
- Senior Choir performs for Prime Minister, The Hon. Jean Chretien at the Prime Minister's Dinner
- Veronica Tennant narrates the OCC Christmas Concert
- Senior Choir's first overseas tour takes them to Italy
- Mayor's Business Awards for Business and the Arts awards Glenda Crawford the Arts Leadership Award for her role as Director of The Oakville Children's Choir
- Senior Choir host a special concert with The Oakville Chamber Orchestra and The Cantabile Children's Choir of Kingston
This was the year of the first overseas tour when the Senior Choir travelled to Italy for the Tuscany International Children's Chorale Festival in Florence. From July 3-11, the choristers combined sightseeing and performing on a packed trip.
The Italy trip was the grand finale at the year end, but there was plenty of excitement to precede it. In fall of the 6th the Senior Choir sang "O, Canada" at the Confederation Dinner to an audience which included The Honourable Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister. At the Christmas concert, retired prima ballerina Veronica Tennant was invited to narrate "Brother Heinrichs Christmas".
On May 6, 2002 the OCC invited the Cantabile Children's Choir of Kingston and the Oakville Chamber Orchestra as guest artists at a special concert held at the Calvary Baptist Church.
On May 11, the achievements of The Oakville Children's Choir were recognized at the Mayor's Award for Business and the Arts when Glenda Crawford received the Oakville Arts Council Individual Arts Leadership Award.
Year 5: 1998-1999
- OCC appears on Breakfast TV
- 1st SING! Elementary School Choir Festival)
- Invited to perform at the Oakville Centre
- Senior Choir is Artist-in-Residence at the Niagara International Music Festival
- Intermediate Choir travels to Owen Sound for Georgian Bay Training Choir Festival
- Chamber Choir performs at Mayor's Gala Awards Banquet
On December 6 1998, The OCC held its first concert at the Oakville Center for Performing Arts as part of the Big Ticket Christmas series. This also marks the first concert with a run of two performances. Tenor Darryl Edwards was a guest soloist.
By this time The OCC has grown to over 100 choristers, aged 7 to 16 and was a well-established choir putting on its own three concerts and appearing frequently as guests. On April 9, 1999, it held its first SING! Festival to promote music in Elementary Schools in Halton. A few weeks later, on April 20, the Chamber Choir made an early morning visit to Toronto to appear on Breakfast Television.
The year finished with the second major tour for the Senior Choir when they traveled to St. Catherines where they were featured as Artist-in-Residence for the Niagara International Music Festival.
Year 4: 1997-1998
- Intermediate Choir tour to Stratford
- Senior Choir tour to Halifax
The Intermediate Choir hits the road with their first tour in the fourth season (their second) and visited the Training Choir Festival hosted by St. Mary's Choir in Stratford from March 27-29. Later that year, the Chamber Choir was invited to Halifax from Podium 98, the Bi-Annual Convention of Canadian Choral Conductors.
When not touring, the Choir kept up its normal busy schedule which included its own three concerts and numerous community activities. The Chamber Choir was invited to greet Santa Claus on his arrival at Oakville Place on November 19. On December 8, the Senior Choir again gave a concert at the Provincial Legislature. In January the Choir held its first Senior Choir workshop with clinician Victoria Meredith.
The final concert, on May 30, was sponsored by Laidlaws in honour of which the choristers wore yellow T-shirts designed by the Thomas Pigeon Group. A school bus attended the year end picnic for a group photograph.
Year 3: 1996-1997
- Intermediate Choir formed
- Senior Choir performed at the Ontario Legislature Christmas Concert
- First Senior tour to Ohio and Pennsylvania
- Choir sang the National Anthems at Blue Jays Game at The Skydome
- Chamber Choir sings the National Anthem at the homecoming ceremony for Oakville's Olympic Athletes
- New Choir uniforms unveiled
- Intermediate Choir places 1st at the Hamilton Kiwanis Festival
- Participates in a performance of Carmina Burana at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
The third year marked a real turning point for the choir. The biggest event, and one that was eagerly anticipated for the entire year occurred on June 16 when all choirs traveled to the Sky Dome to sing the National Anthems for a Blue Jays game. For the choristers present, this was a wonderful occasion.
It was by no means, however, the only big event of the year which began on September 21 when the Chamber Choir sang the "O Canada" at the Homecoming Celebration for Oakville's Olympians. A few months later, in December the Senior Choir traveled to Queen's Park to give a Christmas concert at the Provincial Legislature. In February, the Senior Choir had its first major artistic collaboration when it performed Carmina Burana with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto and the Oakville Symphony Orchestra.
This was followed by many exciting events in a very busy year. It was a year of many new initiatives:
- First year for Intermediate Choir
- First year with uniforms
- First Albion Hills Retreat
- First March Family Concert
- First major tour (to Ohio and Pennsylvania)
Year 2: 1995-1996
- Senior Choir participates in the Hamilton Tri-Choir Festival
- The OCC is incorporated as a non-profit organization.
- Awarded 1st Place in the Peel Music Festival
The second season got underway with 28 cherubs and 53 seniors. It was the beginning of two ongoing community relationships: On November 5, the Senior Choir sang at the St. Johns United Church Remembrance Day Service. On April 7, all choirs sang at an AGAPE Senior's Luncheon. Both have become annual events.
The second Christmas brought performances at the Oakville Newcomers Club, Kensington Retirement Residence and the first television appearance on Burlington Cablenet. In the new year, the choir went further afield: In February the Senior Choir joined the Hamilton Children's Choir and the Oshawa Festival singers in the Hamilton Children's Tri-Choir Festival. A few weeks later, the Senior Choir traveled to London to perform as guests at the Salvation Army Citadel.
The Senior Choir continued its winning streak and again placed first in competition; this time in the Peel Music with a mark of 91. The Chamber Choir was invited to perform in the Summer Concert series at Coronation Park on May 20. This busy year, if anything even more successful than the first, finished with a spring concert, and an appearance by all choirs at the Waterfront Festival.
Year 1: 1994-1995
- Choir formed with Senior, Cherub and Chamber
- Debut concert at Appleby College
- Won Bach-Elgar Award at the Hamilton Kiwanis Festival
The story of the Oakville Children's Choir began in May 1994 when a small classified ad appeared in the local papers announcing the formation of a children's choir in Oakville. These small clippings give little indication of the remarkable progress the choir would make over the next 10 years.
The adds were placed by Glenda Crawford, an elementary school music teacher who had earned a reputation for the success of her public school choirs in the London Kiwanis Music Festivals. When she moved to Oakville she had an opportunity to work with the Toronto Children's Chorus (TTC) founded by Jean Ashworth Bartle. This experience inspired her to start her own choir and she tackled the job with energy and enthusiasm. Flyers for auditions were distributed all over town, and letters were sent to church music directors and music teachers introducing the choir and asking for support.
By the time the first rehearsal was held on September 12, 1994, forty children had been accepted and were attending weekly rehearsals. Initially there was a Senior Choir with about 25 choristers in grades 4 to 8 and a Cherub training Choir with 15 childrens in grades 1 to 3. Additionally, nine members of the Senior Choir were selected for the Chamber choir. The accompanist was Marie Harris Read.
The first concert, on December 11 1994, was attended by Oakville mayor Ann Mulvale. The following day, all choirs performed a Christmas recital at a Senior's home.
By May, the choirs were ready to compete in the Hamilton Kiwanis Festival, where the Senior and Chamber choirs both placed first, earning for The OCC as a whole, the Bach Elgar Award. From that time on, the local newspapers could, truthfully, refer to The OCC as "Oakville's award-winning children's choir". The year was rounded off with the Chamber Choir singing Grace at the Mayor's Banquet in May, a spring concert, and an appearance at the Oakville Waterfront Festival.
When the season was over, the first annual picnic was held at Bronte park to celebrate. By this time, the choir had grown to 58 members. In pride of place was huge cake bearing the message "Congratulations. A wonderful first year".
The ninth season began with a big event for the Chamber Choir when it was invited to participate in "Oakville On Stage" a gala at the Oakville Center for the Performing Arts celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Christmas was an active season as usual with community appearances by all choirs. The OCC's own Christmas Concert marked the debut of "Stars", by Nancy Telford, commissioned by the OCC. A few weeks later, all choirs, joined in to present the 2nd annual Community Carol Sing with special guest Ron MacLean, of Hockey Night in Canada. Proceeds from this event were donated to the maternity wing of the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.
For the week before Easter, the Chamber Choir competed in the 9th International Choir Competition in Budapest, Hungary. They placed third, and achieved Gold Medal standing in the Youth Choir class. This achievement, along with the choir's 2nd place finish the previous year at Kathaumixw qualified The OCC to compete in the 2004 Choral Olympics in Bremen, Germany.
The Senior Choir's planned trip to Buffalo was cancelled at the last minute due to the SARS outbreak in Toronto. They were consoled with an outing to the opera Aida.