Hour by Hour – The Seeds of Xara’s Newest Show

The hours turn to nothing Xara

by Claire Leger, Choreographer

“I can’t believe we weren’t friends before!!”

This was the excited exclamation from Ami McKay after our first creative meeting for what would become “The Hours Turn to Nothing”, Xara’s newest choral theatre project. Christina and I had been brainstorming different ideas for a show that would connect to the centenary of the Halifax Explosion. As Xara’s shows are often very female-centric, we started hunting for stories about women who lived or worked through the Explosion. Very quickly, we stumbled upon Ami McKay’s website, and a blog post she had written about midwives during the Explosion. We were already big fans of Ami and her first book “The Birth House,” where in Chapter 26, the female protagonist goes to Halifax to provide midwifery help to women in the aftermath.

We were shocked to discover from Ami’s blog that the impact of the blast caused many pregnant women in the surrounding area to go into spontaneous labour. We wondered what had happened to those women, those children, and the tireless people who must have worked hours on end to try and save them. And from there, the seeds of The Hours Turn to Nothing started to grow.

Our first creative meeting was actually a Skype phone call between Christina and I in Halifax and Ami in Scot’s Bay. As we chatted about the women whose stories had been long forgotten, and the music that could bring those stories to life, we got more and more excited. Ami also has a background in music history, theory, and musicology, another surprise for us to discover. That’s when we knew – we were destined to create a show together!

 From those initial seeds has grown a work that we are so honoured to bring to life this spring. Featuring beautiful music, including a brand new commission from Xara’s own Jenny Trites and text derived from historical records and images, it is both powerful and hopeful. Stay tuned to our blog over the next few months for inside info on the show as it develops, straight from our singers, collaborators, and from Ami herself!

Atlantic Provinces gains its first Harmony, Inc. Singing Judge in six years

Sue-certifies-photo-1Sue Kember, director of Atlantic Barbershop Champions The ScotianAires Chorus, has been certified as a Singing Category Judge with international barbershop organization Harmony, Inc. at its Category Training School held in January 2017 at Greenfield NH.

Harmony, Inc. trains candidates for certification in four categories: Singing, Music, Performance, and Chairman of Judges. In the Atlantic Provinces, which comprise Area 1 in Harmony, Inc., there are currently two Performance Candidates (ScotianAires members Jill Reid and Fatima Whelan) and one Performance Judge (Theresa Weatherbee). Sue’s certification now gives the Atlantic Provinces its first Harmony, Inc. certified Singing Judge in six years.

Sue entered the Harmony, Inc. judging program as an applicant in the singing category in January of 2015. The fact that Sue was able to certify after only two years in the program is a testament to her extensive musical education and talents, coupled with decades of experience teaching, directing, and singing barbershop music.

Sue first joined the ScotianAires in 1994 and sang in a variety of quartets including Sudden Impulse and former Atlantic Champions Cadenza and Exit Four. After serving for many years as Assistant Director in the chorus, Sue took over as Director of the ScotianAires in 2006, leading the chorus to a total of six Atlantic championships.

Retired Harmony, Inc. Singing Judge and past ScotianAires director Shelagh Radcliffe recognized Sue’s potential and encouraged the talented young singer. “Sue was like a sponge from the day she walked in the door at rehearsal for the first time. She attended every possible barbershop class that she could and was constantly peppering me with questions, especially when I had been away to a school of some sort,” Shelagh recalls. “It was that enthusiasm and desire to grow and flourish that made my decision to ask her to be my Assistant Director and then to turn the chorus over to her, the right one. I knew that as she grew and flourished, so would the chorus. Her certification is just one more step in Sue’s progression through barbershop and indeed, through her life. She’s not done yet, I’m certain!”

The ScotianAires honoured Sue and her certification at a recent ceremony to which Shelagh was invited as a special guest. There she presented Sue with a treasured music pin to mark this high point in Sue’s barbershop journey. ScotianAires’ president Linda McMaster remarked, “It is so wonderful that others can see her amazing gifts the same as we do, and now all of Harmony will have the opportunity to benefit from her sharing. Well done, Sue!”
Congratulations to ScotianAires director Sue Kember on this significant achievement in the world of barbershop music!

150 Forward Fund

The 150 forward fund provides opportunities for Nova Scotians to create, promote and participate in local and regional events and programs that will build a sense of pride in Nova Scotia during the celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary of confederation.

Applicants will be accepted July 1 – October 31, 2016 and a second application period will be December 1 – February 15, 2017.

For more information, please visit the link HERE or contact Angela Dennison (902) 424-3876 Angela.Dennison@novascotia.ca

Frances Farrell, a C/4 Composition Competition Finalist

Chor Leoni Men’s Choir and Artistic Director Erick Lichte are pleased to announce the three finalists of the inaugural Canadian Choral Composition Competition (C/4). They are Frances Farrell, Nicholas Kelly, and Bonnie Penfound. An independent jury of choral director Morna Edmundson, VSO composer-in-residence Jocelyn Morlock, and businessman and composer James Carter will award financial prizes of $2000, $1000, and $500 as the finale of the C/4 show.

The competition attracted over 30 entries. “We are extraordinarily proud that this inaugural year of the C/4 competition has yielded so many incredible Canadian male choral compositions,” Erick Lichte enthused. “Seeing the talent and craft of so many composers from across Canada has been inspiring and we are especially happy to present the works of our three finalists this February. We hope this annual competition continues to discover and champion unique Canadian voices in years to come.”

Meet Choral Canada’s New Staff

Choral Canada is pleased to announce the addition of two staff members to their team, Hilary Knox as General Manager, and Dianna Alteen as the Programs and Office Assistant.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, selfie and close-up
Hilary Knox
Hilary Knox comes to Choral Canada directly from her role as General Manager of the Health Arts Society of Ontario, working with Artistic Director Jeanne Lamon. She left her previous career as a classical singer, based in London, UK, to move back to Canada to raise her family, at which point she took on the management firm of Gossage Artists Management for several years. Hilary holds a Master of Music (Perf) at Mannes College the New School for Music (NYC) and a Bachelor of Music (Perf) at the University of Toronto. Hilary also completed the Arts Administration and Cultural Management post-graduate program at Humber College in Toronto. Hilary grew up singing in choirs in her native Ottawa ON, including several years in the Ontario Youth Choir, and many choirs in Toronto.

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Dianna Alteen
A native of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Dianna Alteen recently completed her Bachelor of Music in flute from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is continuing her studies at Humber College, where she is enrolled in the Arts Administration and Cultural Management post graduate program. During her time at MUN, Dianna assisted with the planning and management of numerous events and festivals at the School of Music, including the Honour Band, StringFest, and Newfound Music Festival. She is a former member of the MUN Chamber and Festival choirs, as well as an original member of the MUNkapeli singers. Dianna is also currently the festival manager for Gros Morne Summer Music, an arts organization based on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Nova Scotia Youth Choir 2017 – Auditions

Nova Scotia Youth Choir Logo






Guest Conductor – Rachel Rensink-Hoff
Resident Conductors – Christina Murray and Ross Thompson
Accompanist – Cynthia Davies

Registration for Auditions for the 2017 Nova Scotia Youth Choir is now open.
Auditions will be held in Wolfville on March 31, New Glasgow and Halifax April 1, 2017

Please visit Here for more information

National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs – Deadline March 15, 2017

A project of / Un projet Choral Canada Choral in collaboration with / en collaboration avec

with additional support from / avec soutien supplémentaire du

cbcmmusic-logo   SOCAN Foundation Logo_Outlined

A treasured Canadian choral tradition, the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs inspires choirs to strive for excellence, provides visibility for amateur choirs of all ages, and encourages the creation and performance of Canadian works. The Competition is open to all Canadian amateur choirs and attracts diverse participants from coast to coast. The finalists and winners are selected by a national jury of esteemed Canadian choral conductors. The prestigious Canada Council for the Arts Healey Willan Grand Prize is awarded to the finest overall performance in musicianship, technique, and program. Each choir that enters the Competition must perform an original Canadian piece and prizes are given for the Best Performance of a Canadian Work and the Best Performance of a Canadian Contemporary Work. Cash prizes are awarded for the top performances in each category. The national jury may also award special accolades to outstanding choirs.

2017 National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs



Category 1: Children’s Choirs

Unchanged voices, singers not older than 16 years*, may be community-based or school-based

Category 2: Upper-Voice Youth Choirs

Equal-voice S/A choirs, singers not older than 23 years*, may be community-based or school-based; must not qualify for category 5

Category 3: Lower-Voice Youth Choirs

Equal-voice T/B choirs, singers not older than 23 years*, may be community-based or school-based; must not qualify for category 5

Category 4: Mixed-Voice Youth Choirs

Mixed-voice youth choirs, singers not older than 23 years*, may be community-based or school-based; must not qualify for category 5

Category 5: Collegiate Choirs

University or college choirs of mixed or equal-voice adults with a minimum of 17 singers; must not qualify for category 4

Category 6: Mixed-Voice Adult Choirs

Adult mixed-voice choirs with a minimum of 29 singers; must not qualify for category 5

Category 7: Mixed-Voice Adult Chamber Choirs

Adult mixed-voice choirs with a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 28 singers; must not qualify for category 5.

Category 8: Equal-Voice Men’s Choirs

Adult equal-voice men’s choirs with a minimum of 17 singers

Category 9: Equal-Voice Women’s Choirs

Adult, equal-voice women’s choirs with a minimum of 17 singers

Category 10: Pan-cultural / Traditional Folk Music (formerly known as Pan-cultural Traditions)

Open to all choirs who perform music within a specific cultural tradition (world music, ethnic, First Nation, national folk music — does not include vocal jazz and barbershop). No limit in size

Category 11: Contemporary Music

Open to all choirs that comply with Category 11 repertoire requirements (see below). Choirs entering this category may not repeat repertoire submitted in previous categories

*Age limits are effective as of the Competition Entry Deadline on March 15, 2017.

Repertoire Requirements:

1. For all categories:

  • All selections must be unaccompanied (un-pitched percussion instruments are acceptable). Failure to observe this rule will result in disqualification
  • Translations in English or French should be provided for any selection performed in a language other than English or French.
  • Recorded material must be no more than 12 months old at the time of submission. Date of recordings is required on the entry form.

2. For Categories 1 to 9:

  • Each recording must include FOUR (4) separate and contrasting works whose total time must not exceed 18 minutes.
  • The repertoire in these categories should cover as wide a range of period, style and mood as possible, while reflecting the special qualities of the category entered.
  • The FOUR (4) individual works must include ONE (1) original work by a Canadian composer (in any language). Arrangements of pre-existing tunes or melodies are considered derivative works, not original.
  • The FOUR (4) individual works must include at least ONE (1) selection in French and ONE (1) selection in English. (The original Canadian work may also fulfill this requirement.)

For Category 10:

  • Each recording must include FOUR (4) selections whose total time must not exceed 18 minutes.
  • The repertoire in this category must reflect the specific cultural tradition of the choir.
  • The selections may be sung in any language(s) and should be as contrasting in mood as is possible within the cultural tradition.
  • Inclusion of a Canadian work as one of the FOUR (4) individual selections is not mandatory. However, Category 10 Entrants who do include at least ONE (1) original work by a Canadian composer (in any language) will be considered for the Prize for Best Performance of a Canadian Work and the SOCAN Foundation Canada 150 Award for Best Performance of a Canadian Contemporary Work (it is a contemporary work). Arrangements of pre-exiting tunes or melodies are considered derivative works, not original.

For Category 11:

  • Each recording must include TWO (2) contemporary works, one of which must be an original work by a Canadian composer, and one of which must have been written in the last ten years. Arrangements of pre-exiting tunes or melodies are considered derivative works, not original.
  • The TWO (2) selections must not exceed a total time of 18 minutes.
  • The selections should be contrasting works in a contemporary musical idiom, reflecting 21st-century compositional techniques. The year of composition for each selection must be indicated on the entry form.
  • Choirs who enter only category 11 are not eligible for the Healey Willan Grand Award, due to the difficulty of judging a choir’s overall performance in musicianship, technique, and program with the submission of only two pieces. They do, however, remain eligible for both the Prize for Best Performance of a Canadian Work and the SOCAN Foundation Canada 150 Award for Best Performance of a Canadian Contemporary Work.


Rules and Regulations 2017 – CLICK HERE

Online or Mail Application Form 2017 – COMING SOON

CBC Artist Page “How-To” – COMING SOON


For information or questions, please contact info@choralcanada.org

2015 Competition

2013 Competition

2011 Competition

2010 Competition

A Midwinter Choral Tune Up for Church Choirs and Directors with Mark Sirett

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February 4 @ 9:30 am12:00 pm


This is a community event open to church choirs, as a group or individual members. A sacred choral reading session and workshop with Mark Sirett, it will feature music form the NSCF library and a package of music from Long and McQuade.  Please register in advance by contacting  malcolm.bradley@ns.sympatico.ca