The Ottawa Choral Society (OCS) gave its inaugural concert 71 years ago to raise money for the War Charities. Since that time, the 100-voice, auditioned choir, currently under the leadership of Jordan de Souza, has evolved into one of Canada’s most prominent symphonic choruses, presenting the major choral masterworks as well as exciting new compositions on its annual subscription series.
The OCS regularly collaborates with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and appears each season with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO). In June 2010, the choir was honoured to participate in performances of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (The Symphony of a Thousand) under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Broadcast nationally by SRC and CBC Radio Two, the event undoubtedly was one of the most thrilling musical collaborations in the choir’s history.
The choir ardently supports the development of Canadian music through several important initiatives: its commissioning program, which has introduced exciting new Canadian compositions into the choral repertoire; its commitment to Canadian repertoire content; the OCS New Discoveries Auditions for Young Artists which provide an invaluable platform for emerging Canadian concert artists; and the Society’s choral bursaries which are offered to students pursuing a career in music.
In its pursuit of excellence, the choir has developed a core of professional choristers and has appointed Kevin Reeves, well known Director of Seventeen Voyces, to the position of Chorus Master where he will assist Mr. de Souza in music preparation.
The OCS’s five international tours have taken the choir to Italy in 1982, Spain 1989, Germany and the Czech Republic 1996, The United Kingdom and Ireland 2000, and again, to Italy in 2008. In 2000, BBC-TV’s video-documentary of the UK tour was televised across the United Kingdom.
The OCS is a non-profit organization administered by a volunteer Board of Directors and its committees. In addition to box office revenue, the Choir operates with the financial assistance of the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, its corporate sponsors, the proceeds of its special events and fund-raising campaigns, and the generous donations of its patrons.