Guelph Chamber Choir
In 1980 a group of choral music lovers decided that Guelph needed a new choir dedicated to singing the finest works of the repertoire with skill and musical sensitivity. Our first performance on December 7, 1980 featured twenty-six singers in front of an audience of nearly two hundred at Harcourt Memorial United Church. Conductor Gerald Neufeld has led the choir for all but two years of its history when Kathryn Laurin ably took the baton.
After Gerald Neufeld’s retirement in 2018, an extensive search process was conducted during the 2019 season and Charlene Pauls was named Artistic Director and Conductor starting with the 2019/2020 season.
Over the years our ranks have swelled and our talents deepened. Now at forty voices strong we still hold close to the ideals of chamber singing: lightness and clarity of tone, subtle blending of developed voices, and clear communication of the meaning and spirit of both text and music.
Singers in the Guelph Chamber Choir represent various walks of life; their common bond is to foster community enjoyment and appreciation of choral music through performances, outreach, artistic collaboration, and community partnerships.
We remain an integral part of the strong musical heritage of Guelph. Our performances include repertoire from Renaissance masters to contemporary composers, from classical styles to Broadway and vocal jazz, and from unaccompanied choral gems to masterworks with full orchestra.
We often collaborate with other choirs from across Canada and within our own community. We have participated in festivals throughout Ontario and have toured Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and Sweden. Our success has been recognized through a number of broadcasts on national radio and prizes in the CBC National Competition for Amateur Choirs.
John Barnum, President
Dave Davidson, Vice-President
Jean Hilborn, Treasurer
Jim Service, Secretary
Charlene Pauls, Artistic Director and Conductor
Sandra Pitts, Administrator
Dr. Charlene Pauls
Artistic Director & Conductor
Dr. Charlene Pauls has been an active choral conductor, vocal soloist, adjudicator and pedagogue for over 25 years. Drawing on this extensive experience, Dr. Pauls’ approach focuses on developing a beautiful choral sound through a deep understanding of healthy vocal technique.
Over the course of her career, she has directed a wide range of adult, university and youth choirs. She is Associate Artistic Director of the 250 voice strong Oakville Choir for Children and Youth where she directs Raise Her Voice Chamber, an ambassadorial ensemble selected from within the organization’s senior singers. Dr. Pauls has led this group in award-winning performances at various national and international competitions, and has appeared on stages in Europe and the USA. In July 2018, Raise Her Voice was featured at the national choral conference Podium, and was one of five choirs in Float, a special Canada Council multi-media project that took place in St. John’s. On July 1, 2019, Raise Her Voice was awarded first place in the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.
From 2016 to 2018 Dr. Pauls was the Artistic Director of London’s Pro Musica Choir, and this past season she was pleased to guest conduct London’s Chor Amica choir and the Guelph Chamber Choir. In 2018 Dr. Pauls also founded the Mosaic Music Collective, a project-based choir bringing together newcomers to Canada with other residents of the community to explore music from around the world and to create cultural bridges.
Dr. Pauls has appeared as a soprano soloist on concert stages across Canada and internationally in Germany, England, France and Spain, under the baton of conductors
such as Robert Shaw, Bramwell Tovey, and Helmuth Rilling. Academic studies include undergraduate degrees from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba in theology, piano and voice, a Master’s from McGill, specializing in Early Music, and a Doctorate from the University of Toronto in Vocal Performance, with a dissertation on Bach’s Cantata BWV 210.
In addition to her active performing and teaching career, Dr. Pauls frequently presents academic work at academic conferences and is in demand as an adjudicator for Voice and Choral festivals across the country.
This past season, Dr. Pauls was thrilled to be awarded the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting from the Ontario Arts Council.
Tricia (Patricia) Ward
Alison MacNeill, Piano
Alison MacNeill is a graduate of the University of Guelph and of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. Born in Guelph, she returned to the area to live and work following graduate work at the University of Western Ontario, where she had studied piano and theory with Ronald Turini and Richard Parks.
Alison is a busy freelance accompanist and chamber musician, and has been, at various times through the years, pianist for the University of Guelph Choir, the Elora Festival Singers, the Guelph Youth Singers, and the Rainbow Chorus of Waterloo-Wellington, as well as with many other ensembles and soloists.
She maintains a large teaching studio and is the Director of Music Ministry at Harcourt Memorial United Church, a position she had held since 1988.
She has been the accompanist for the Guelph Chamber Choir for about twenty years, frequently performing and touring with the ensemble. She is featured on two previous CDs of the choir: Songs of the New World, and Goode Cheare.
Sandra Pitts, Administrator
Brenda Lewis, Concert Promotions Coordinator