History

The Saskatoon Chamber Singers was founded in 1977 by a group of former Greystone Singers (University of Saskatchewan) who wanted to continue singing in a quality choral ensemble. They invited Robert Solem, director of choral activities at the University of Saskatchewan and director of the Greystone Singers since 1962, to be the choir’s musical director. The choir’s first concert, on December 14, 1977, was presented with the Saskatoon Chamber Orchestra – they were billed as the Saskatoon Chamber Orchestra and Choir – and included Vaughan Williams’ “Flos Campi,” Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” and Scarlatti’s “Su le sponde del Tebro.” The official launch, however, came on April 3, 1978, at Knox United Church. Typical of much of the repertoire ever since, the varied program included two recent Canadian works, including Ruth Watson’s Missa Brevis. The Chamber Singers quickly developed a reputation in Saskatoon, and received national exposure. During the 1978-79 season, they provided recorded program music for the Gateway Players’ production of The Lark. In 1979, the choir performed Brahms’ Neue Liebeslieder Walzer in a concert during the Learned Societies Conference that was broadcast on the national CBC network, the first of several concerts to be broadcast. The following season they were the core group for the chorus of the Saskatoon Opera Association’s production of Carmen. They also performed a number of concerts outside of Saskatoon.

Highlights through the years:

1977    Saskatoon Chamber Singers founded by a group of former Greystone Singers; Robert Solem appointed director

1978    First concert, April 3rd

1979    Learned Societies concert broadcast nationally on CBC Radio

1982    Summer concert at Mendel Art Gallery (pictured above)

1985    James Hawn appointed music director, serving for one season

1986    Patricia Jamison appointed music director

1988    Finalists in CBC choral competition for amateur choirs

1988    Finalists at International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River, British Columbia

1988    Saskatchewan premiere of Peter Berring’s Song of the Salish Chief, the second performance after its national premiere

1989    Guest choir at Mini Saskatchewan Sings with conductor Wayne Riddell

1989    First of seven performances of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols over the next four years

1991    Premiere of The Cremation of Sam McGee by Canadian composer Kenneth Nichols (commissioned by Saskatchewan Music Educators Association for its annual conference)

1991    Lab choir for conducting workshop with Wayne Riddell

1994    Duff Warkentin appointed music director

1996    First Remembrance Day concert (became annual event starting in 1998)

1999    Participants at Festival 500, St. John’s, Newfoundland, with Greystone Singers

2000    Performance at installation of Lt-Governor Lynda Haverstock, former member

2003    James Hawn appointed music director

2004    Saskatchewan premiere of Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps by American composer Donald McCullough

2007    Premiere of commissioned work by Saskatchewan composer David McIntyre, Where You Begin Like Rivers

2010    Performance at Podium, conference of the Association of Canadian Choral Communities, in Saskatoon

2012    First commercial recording, Remember, released at November concert. Three tracks broadcast nationally on CBC Radio’s Choral Concert

2013    Premiere of commissioned work by Canadian composer Jeff Enns, Jubilate Deo

2013    Performances in Rosthern (April) and Swift Current (November)

2015    Premiere of commissioned work by Canadian composer Allan Bevan, All Suddenly the Wind; being published by Cypress Choral Music