MCA Announces 2022 Awards of Distinction Recipients

Highest choral honours go to six Manitoba choral community members


Manitoba Choral Association (MCA) has selected six worthy recipients for our 2022 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 and dedicated choral leaders, choirs, and volunteers in the Manitoba choral community,” said Jenny Steinke-Magnus, Manitoba Choral Association’s Executive Director. “These awards are a concrete way to acknowledge the time, energy, and skill that has been integral 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 Horizon, choral director Valdine Anderson (Winnipeg), and collaborative pianist Kimberly Lapatha (Winnipeg). All three exemplify a high standard of excellence in the province. Under the skilled artistic direction of director Johanna Hildebrand and assistant director Leanne Cooper-Carrier, Horizon is a well-respected choir and has gained recognition as artistic leaders on the Winnipeg choral scene. Every year, the choir showcases a diverse and innovative repertoire of contemporary music by Canadian composers and composers of diverse backgrounds and cultures, making it a priority to spotlight female composers in these categories. Horizon regularly collaborates with outstanding guest artists and other local choirs and seizes opportunities to engage with the composers themselves to better understand and appreciate the music they perform. Congratulations, Horizon!

Valdine Anderson is highly respected by the music staff, board members, choristers, and chorister families of the choirs with whom she works. As a musically talented and inspiring conductor, she has successfully led her choirs locally, nationally, and internationally to great acclaim in many music festivals. Her work with Pembina Trails Voices was highlighted in particular in her nomination, noting that “Valdine strives to make concert events unique and meaningful, with artistic collaborations from past singers in the program, to utilizing upcoming professional musicians from the university in concert accompaniment roles, to highlighting intra-program collaborations between choirs in the organization.” It was noted that her commitment, strong belief, endless enthusiasm, and positive energy has also been instrumental in her choirs making it through the pandemic. Congratulations, Valdine!


The third recipient of the Award for Artistic Excellence, Kimberly Lapatha, is considered a pillar in the choral community. A skilled accompanist who works with countless choirs in Manitoba, Kimberly approaches every project, choir rehearsal, music class, and music team practice with enthusiasm. Those who work with her note that her ability to know what the choir needs and what the conductor is thinking (before the director sometimes even knows!) is quite impressive. Kimberly is a sensitive and flexible collaborative pianist who adjusts to the needs of each choir with ease, reflecting the tone and style of every piece she plays. On top of her many choral and musical activities, she has also been working towards her masters in collaborative piano. Congratulations, Kimberly!


This year’s New Voice Award goes to Winnipeg/Westman-based singing group Unique Quintet. As a self-directed ensemble that sings many original arrangements in three- to five-part harmony, they draw on local coaches and opportunities to learn and grow as a group. No challenge is too big or too small. Unique Quintet aims to inspire through their volunteer efforts, performances, and work at places like International Music Camp as section leads for women’s barbershop session. As wives, mothers, and grandmothers, they are caring and loving individuals following their passion to share music with others and inspiring them to do the same. Congratulations, Unique Quintet!


Finally, the MCA Spirit Award has been awarded to two individuals dedicated to the growth and success of MCA and the Manitoba choral community: Naomi Russell (Brandon) and Sonya Williams (Winnipeg). For over 30 years, Naomi Russell has been a dedicated and integral member of the MCA volunteer team. She has served in various board roles over the years and has worked on countless committees, including the Executive Committee as Secretary and many ad hoc committees. Naomi has been a strong advocate for MCA supporting National Youth Choir of Canada choristers and has sung in the Manitoba Youth Choir and Provincial Honour Choirs for many years. Outside of MCA activities, she has directed Women in Harmony and sung with das Femmes and the Canadian Chamber Choir for many years, and has been a valued voice for the Westman region. Naomi’s dedication and commitment to the Manitoba choral community is evident and admirable, even now as she has committed to continuing on the MCA Board in the role of Vice President. Congratulations, Naomi!


Sonya Williams has devoted countless years of service to MCA in numerous capacities, having served on the Provincial Honour Choirs, ChoralFest, and Nominating Committees, and a variety of ad hoc committees. She has been an influential member of the IDEA Committee and was a valued voice as part of the MCA Strategic Planning process. As a board member Sonya has served in multiple roles over the years, most recently as ChoralFest Chair and, in the past, as MMEA Representative. Sonya has volunteered at events in many capacities (notably as emcee many times) and has been an influential force in MCA’s programming. As noted in her nomination, she has been a champion of choral music and a choral advocate and supporter of Manitoba’s choral community in the highest regard, most notably as a senior years choral educator for 17 years. Congratulations, Sonya!

Nominations for individuals and choirs in the Manitoba choral community can be made throughout the year through MCA’s website at https://www.mbchoralassociation.ca/awards-of-distinction.

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