Spotlight on Manitoba Singers at PODIUM/NYCC 2022: Part II

Three choirs from the Singing Province have been invited to perform at PODIUM 2022


Manitoba continues to be well-represented at this year’s PODIUM, Choral Canada’s national biennial choral conference and festival running in Toronto from May 19 to 23, with no less than three Winnipeg choirs chosen to perform: Prairie Voices, Dead of Winter, and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir. The multi-day celebration brings together participants from across the country and beyond who are passionate about group singing.


PODIUM 2022 will be held for the first time in a hybrid format, expanding options for participation by supporting both in-person and virtual attendees. The five-day schedule will combine performers and presenters from PODIUM 2020 and new voices for PODIUM 2022. Prairie Voices was one of the choirs invited to perform in 2020. The award-winning choir is made up of singers ages 18-25 and will perform in Toronto under the direction of Philip Lapatha.


In all of their performances, Prairie Voices seeks to bring their unique touch to a diverse repertoire. While placing an emphasis on performing the music of Canadian and Manitoban composers, the choir loves to perform innovative contemporary choral music from all over the world, using energy, expressiveness and movement to connect avant-garde composition with a popular audience. Prairie Voices will perform in Toronto on Friday, May 20.


This year’s PODIUM attendees will explore the theme of Reimagine, Rebuild, Reconnect. With the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic and the strengthening of collective calls for equity and justice, the choral community has the powerful opportunity to reimagine the possibilities of the choral arts. By sharing performances and ideas, and creating space for curiosity, listening, reflection, and dialogue, PODIUM 2022 aims to inspire all who thrill at the sound of voices joined together in song.


Dead of Winter – formerly known as Camerata Nova – will do just that with their PODIUM performance. Composer and artistic director Andrew Balfour will bring his much-anticipated Captive concert to life at PODIUM on Saturday, May 21. Conductor Mel Braun will lead the vocal group in this third installment in a series of Truth and Reconciliation concerts that began in 2017.


The Truth and Reconciliation concerts are Balfour’s brainchild, and each concert centers around a theme that resonates with the Canadian Indigenous experience. Past concerts in the series have featured collaborations with an impressive range of Indigenous artists, including Cree hip hop artist Lindsay Knight and Polaris winner Jeremy Dutcher (Taken, 2017), and traditional Ojibway drummer-singer Cory Campbell and cellist Cris Derksen (Fallen, 2018). Captive will feature compositions by Andrew Balfour and Cris Derksen, as well as soundscapes by Eliot Britton.


The ideas for the Captive concert started percolating during a composer gathering hosted by Dead of Winter back in February 2020. Originally, the plan was to perform Captive in May 2020. Then COVID-19 hit, and like so many live music events in the last two years of the pandemic, the performance was canceled. “I think that Captive will be profound in part because it’s changed so much,” says Balfour. “To have an extra couple of years to sit with the project has been very eye-opening as to what we want its statement to be.” The invitation to perform at the conference is an immense honour for Balfour, and the choir is thrilled that this much-anticipated concert will be a feature of the festival.


Following Dead of Winter’s performance, the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir (WBC) Senior Chorus is looking forward to sharing their love for choral music with choral enthusiasts on Sunday, May 22. Now in its 97th season, the WBC is an auditioned ensemble dedicated to high-quality music making and vocal training in a convivial atmosphere. Probably Canada’s oldest independent boys’ choir, it was founded as a treble choir in 1925 by the Men’s Musical Club, an organization instrumental in the inception of local institutions such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic Choir, and Music Festival. The full choir regularly perform with our city’s finest arts organizations and support our community through fundraising and outreach performances. For a decade, the Senior Chorus has nurtured maturing singers through the voice change as they develop vocal confidence and musical sophistication.


Nearly all the members of the choir, along with Artistic Director Carolyn Boyes and Senior Chorus director Spencer Duncanson, their collaborative accompanist, two chaperones, and a healthy representation of parents will be making their way to Toronto to attend PODIUM. “Manitoba has always been known to be a center of quality choral music,” says Duncanson. “Being able to represent our province at PODIUM is an honour that we don’t take lightly… and being able to hear some of the most outstanding Canadian choirs will be informative and inspiring for the choir.”

Manitoba Choral Association wishes all Manitoba choirs at PODIUM well in their performances! You can attend the concerts of all three talented choirs while in Toronto from May 19-23, or tune in from the comfort of home on a virtual platform. For more information about the concerts, and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.podium2022.ca/festivalconcerts.html.


This post is the second in a two-part series spotlighting Manitoba singers at PODIUM/NYCC 2022. Part I featured six Manitoba vocalists performing with the National Youth Choir of Canada. Read more here.

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