About Us

Artistic Director Kari Turunen began leading the Vancouver Chamber Choir — one of Canada’s premier professional choral ensembles — in September 2019, its 49th concert season.

Jon Washburn founded the choir in 1971 and it has become an amazing success story, ranking with the handful of North America’s best professional choruses and noted for its diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The choir has presented concerts to audiences at home in Vancouver and on tour across Canada. International excursions have taken the them to the USA, Mexico, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Honoured with the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence by Chorus America, the choir has performed countless concerts and broadcasts, released 36 recordings and received numerous awards. Foremost supporters of Canadian music, they are responsible for commissions and premieres of 334 choral works by 145 composers and arrangers, most of whom are Canadian. Over the years the choir has sung over 4,000 performances of works by Canadian composers, in addition to their extensive international repertoire.

The choir’s award-winning educational programs include the Conductors’ Symposium for advanced choral conductors, Interplay interactive workshops for choral composers, Focus professional development program for student singers, OnSite visitations for school choirs, the biennial Young Composers’ Competition, and many on-tour workshops and residencies.

Artistic Director Kari Turunen

Kari Turunen

The Vancouver Chamber Choir welcomed Kari Turunen in 2019 as its second-ever Artistic Director in 49 years. Prior to his arrival in Vancouver, Dr. Turunen was a versatile performer on the Finnish choral and vocal music scene. A former college-level teacher, he continues to be a full time conductor, clinician, adjudicator and lecturer in Vancouver, Finland and abroad.

As Artistic Director, he has led prominent Finnish choirs Akademiska Damkören Lyran (1998–2009), Akademiska Sångföreningen (2008–2019), Kampin Laulu chamber choir (2011–2019), the choir of the cantors of the Finnish Lutheran Church and Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae (2011–2019), Spira Ensemble (2012–2019), and the professional early music performers Ensemble Petraloysio and I Dodici, with which he continues to occasionally work. He has won numerous prizes at national and international festivals with his groups and was named choral conductor of the year in Finland in 2008.

Dr. Turunen is a founding member of Lumen Valo, a professional vocal ensemble of eight voices. Lumen Valo has been a driving force on the early music scene in Finland since its conception in 1993 and has made a name for itself in almost 250 concerts around Finland and Europe. The group has recorded nine CDs, all of them critically acclaimed for their fresh programming and quality of singing.

In addition to artistic activities, he has produced events as Artistic Director for the annual Aurore Renaissance Festival and the upcoming Finnish-Swedish Song Celebration in June 2021.

He was educated at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy where he studied choral conducting (MA). He holds a doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki.

Founder & Conductor Emeritus Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn is the Founder and Conductor Emeritus of the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Canada’s outstanding professional vocal ensemble which he led as Artistic and Executive Director for 48 years. He has earned international acclaim for mastery of choral technique and interpretation, travelling widely as guest conductor, lecturer, clinician and master teacher.

During those 48 years with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, he led 400 subscription concerts, 150 radio and TV appearances, 800 concerts and events on 92 separate tours, 59 CD recordings, 350 commissioned/premiered new works, 300 large Baroque works, 40 Conductors’ Symposiums, 60 Composers’ Workshops, thousands of individual pieces in over 40 languages and countless workshops and residencies for choral conductors, composers, students and singers.

Jon Washburn is an active composer, arranger, lyricist and editor, published by G. Schirmer, Walton, Cypress, Oxford University Press, earthsongs and others. His music is widely published, performed and recorded around the world. He is a noted champion of new choral repertoire, having commissioned and premiered hundreds of new compositions by Canadian, American and European composers. He has conducted thousands of performances of works by Canadian composers, for which he received the Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian League of Composers and Canadian Music Centre.

In 2001 he was given the Order of Canada (the nation’s highest civilian honour) and subsequently received Queen Elizabeth’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, recognizing his lifetime contribution to Canadian arts and culture. He was awarded a star on Vancouver’s Entertainment Walk of Fame and has received both the Louis Botto and Michael Korn awards from Chorus America, marking his long devotion to the development of professional choirs and the choral art.

Mr. Washburn is available for consulting, workshops and guest conducting and can be contacted by clicking here.

Jon Washburn

Administrative Team

Kari Turunen

Artistic Director

Steven Bélanger

Executive Director

Jon Washburn

Founder & Conductor Emeritus

Nat Marshik

Bookkeeper

Violet Goosen

Development

Tom Ellis

Librarian

Auditions Coordinator

Board of Directors

Officers

PRESIDENT
Anne Bonnycastle
Department Head, Arts and Applied Skills, Design & Technology, Crofton House School

VICE PRESIDENT
Dr. Jeanette Gallant (Oxford)
Voice Teacher, Ethnomusicologist

TREASURER
Adam J. Garvin, CPA, CMA

SECRETARY
Brent Hunter

PAST PRESIDENT
George Laverock
Music Producer and Arts Administrator

Directors

Matthew Baird
Public Relations Manager,
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Donna Hogge
Hematologist

Rina Jaswal, B.Sc., LL.B.
Senior Legal Counsel, BC Securities Commission

Colin Miles

Alexandra Nicolas
Sales Manager

Frances Roberts

Dr. Robert Rothwell
Rheumatologist

Dolores Scott
Singers’ Representative

Cara Ventura

Marianne Werner

Jennifer Wilnechenko
Marketing Manager,
EnWave Corporation

James W. Wright, ICD.D

Honorary Patrons

John Bishop
Dr. Stephen Chatman, C.M.
Tama Copithorne
David Cousins
Sam Feldman
Charles Flavelle
Violet Goosen
Janis Hamilton
Ben Heppner, C.C.
Don Hudson
Doris Luking
Viviane Nitting
Imant Raminsh, C.M.
Elizabeth Rathbun
R. Murray Schafer, C.C.

Associate Choir

Vancouver Youth Choir

Vancouver Youth Choir

The Vancouver Youth Choir is Vancouver’s newest choral organization for children and youth. Founded in 2013 by Carrie Tennant, the choirs provide a space for beginning to advanced young singers to develop their artistry in a creative and supportive community. Over the past three years, VYC has grown rapidly. Beginning our first season with 30 singers, the organization has now expanded to include over 140 singers in three separate choirs: the Vancouver Youth Choir, VYC Junior, and VYC Kids. In all our levels, we strive for artistry and excellence. We believe in the artistic potential of young people – regardless of their age, ability or experience. Just as important to us, however, is to create a safe and supportive place for this artistry to develop. In addition to building skill and fostering talent, it is part of the Vancouver Youth Choir’s mandate to develop creative, caring citizens who value contributing to and investing in their communities.

For more information please visit the Vancouver Youth Choir’s website.

Carrie Tennant

Carrie Tennant

Vision • Mission • Values • Mandate

Our Vision

Distinctive, outstanding choral music programs, featuring performances recognized as reaching the highest standards of excellence, given by professional singers who are deeply committed to their art form.

Our Mission

To engage, inspire, enrich and change the lives of the widest possible audience by sharing with them the transformative experience of great choral music.

Our Values

  • We demonstrate consistent professionalism, and always strive for excellence.
  • We value tradition, and embrace innovation.
  • We believe in public education and professional development.
  • We strive to offer our audiences both accessibility and inspiration.
  • We do our work in a spirit of collaboration, as part of a community.

Our Mandate

  1. To bring live choral music performances of the highest quality to as many people as possible, at home and on tour.
  2. To use digital technology to share our music with those who cannot hear it live.
  3. To foster appreciation of choral music among the public.
  4. To contribute to the long-term development of the choral art in Canada and around the world.
  5. To provide educational opportunities for choral conductors, choirs, singers, teachers and students.
  6. To enrich the choral repertoire with attractive new works.
  7. To bring choral music by Canadian composers to Canadian and international audiences.
  8. To engage actively with our local communities in all their diversity, and with partners in other like-minded organizations.
  9. To provide secure employment for Canadian professional choral musicians.
  10. To celebrate our legacy while growing, building and innovating for a sustainable and exciting future.