Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Ottawa to host 2014 Canadian Choral Festival

The city outbids Montreal to bring choirs together in the largest queer choral festival in Canada

Credit: Ashlyn Noble, Winnipeg,

After performing at the Canadian Choral festival in Winnipeg, singers from Tone Cluster and the Ottawa Gay Men’s choir left the festival on a winning note — Ottawa had won the bid to host the 2014 Unison Canadian Choral festival.

The choral festival started in Edmonton in 1998 and is held every four years in major cities around Canada — Toronto in 2002, Vancouver in 2006, Winnipeg in 2010 and now Ottawa in 2014.

Gianluca Ragazzini, a member of Ottawa’s Gay Men’s Chorus and Tone Cluster attended the first festival in Edmonton.

“I was fortunate enough to go to Edmonton for the first edition of the festival,” says Ragazzini. “It has been my dream to bring it to Ottawa ever since.”

On Saturday, Ragazzini and members of the organizing committee presented their proposal before a panel of 15 judges — one representative from each choir participating in the festival.

There were only two cities competing for the honour of hosting the festival — Ottawa and Montréal.  Although Montréal had already hosted the 7th International GALA Chorus Festival in 2004, which brings queer choirs together from Canada, the Unites States and Europe, Ragazzini felt that the city was strong competition.

“Montreal is a beautiful city,” says Ragazzini. “We were nervous about how strong they could have been.”

Ragazzini feels that that there were a few factors that contributed to Ottawa winning the bid — including the fact that the city has never held such a large queer choral festival and that Ottawa choirs have always had a strong presence at the festival.

Although 15 choirs from across the country descended upon Winnipeg — a total of 500 delegates — Ottawa was the only city with two choirs performing, the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus and Tone Cluster.

Ragazzini sees Unison 2014 as a significant cultural event that will showcase the different musical cultures from around the country as well as being a boost for tourism.

“It’s going to be good for the delegates from around Canada to come to Ottawa — it’s a beautiful time of the year,” says Ragazzini. “There’s lots to do and the festival is definitely appealing.”

With four years to go, the co-ordinating committee — which comprises members from the various choral societies in Ottawa — have already begun preparations.

One of the first steps will be to set up a non-profit group to organize the festival and to select people to work on the logistics — a task that Ragazzini is excited and nervous about.

“I feel great — it’s a challenge, it’s definitely exciting,” says Ragazzini. “I think it is a little bit scary at this point. There’s a lot of time and a lot of work ahead of us, but it is a really exciting thing to do.”