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Highest choral honours go to Manitoba choral community members

Manitoba Choral Association (MCA) has chosen six worthy recipients to be inaugural winners of their Awards of Distinction, the highest honour for the province’s choral community. The Awards of Distinction were established in 2020 to honour individuals, choirs, institutions, corporations, and programs in recognition of their valuable contributions to the choral community of Manitoba.

“We are thrilled to have such accomplished conductors and choirs in the Manitoba choral community,” said Jenny Steinke-Magnus, Manitoba Choral Association’s Executive Director. “These awards are a way to recognize their valuable contributions to the choral arts scene across the province.”

The awards fall into three categories: the MCA Award for Artistic Excellence, recognizing outstanding artistic achievement, innovation, and significant leadership in choral music; the MCA New Voice Award, recognizing emerging artists who inspire new projects, ideas, or display artistic potential in choral music; and the MCA Spirit Award, recognizing contributions such as outreach, service, education, diversity, sponsorship, or other significant advocacy work to the choral arts.

This year’s recipients for the MCA Award for Artistic Excellence include Winnipeg choir Camerata Nova and conductor Michelle Chyzyk from the Westman region. Both exemplify high standard of excellence in the province: for Camerata Nova, directed by Andrew Balfour, the scope of repertoire, the cultures they explore through music, the outstanding guest artists they showcase, and risks they take in their music making are to be admired.

“Camerata Nova is coming up to its 25th anniversary. We have long been collaborating with the choral community in Manitoba and Winnipeg,” said Camerata Nova artistic director Andrew Balfour. “It is a huge honour for us to be recognized by Manitoba Choral Association.”

Michelle has excelled as a conductor for over 30 years, bringing her vision, creativity, ingenuity, and passion together to make spectacular art. “Michelle has a gift for spotting potential, nurturing talent, and helping people discover and become their best selves, said Marla Fontaine, a member of Michelle’s choir Konektis. “She is an absolute treasure to our Westman choral community and beyond. Her talent, creativity, motivation, hard-work, and vision make her an outstanding candidate for this distinction.”

MCA’s New Voice Award goes to two recipients this year: Winnipeg-based chamber choir NUOVOCE, directed by Sarah Sommer and Justin Odwak, and Brandon-based community choir Konektis, directed by Michelle Chyzyk. NUOVOCE was established in 2019 and aims to deliver creative and contemporary choral programming of a high caliber to local audiences while providing opportunities for young singers to continue their careers as choristers after high school. For Konektis, whose name means “connected”, connecting with audiences is paramount. By making eye contact, believing in the music, and sharing in their joy of performing, singers help spectators to feel very much a part of the performance.

Finally, the MCA Spirit Award has been awarded to two individuals who have made it their life’s commitment to support the choral community in many ways: Philipp R. Ens and the late Karen Giesbrecht. Philipp has made significant financial contributions to MCA over the years, often citing his appreciation for opportunities and events planned for rural communities and in learning how his gifts will benefit all choral groups in Manitoba. During her lifetime as a conductor and volunteer, Karen made a tremendous impact on MCA and Manitoba singers. She has left a legacy that continues to inspire and guide musicians on their journey to create a vibrant choral community in Manitoba and beyond.

MCA congratulates all of the recipients of these distinguished awards. Nominations for individuals and choirs in the Manitoba choral community can be made throughout the year through MCA’s website.

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