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 was appointed Artistic Director of the Vancouver Chamber Choir in 2019, its 49th concert season. He is a versatile performer and continues to play an important role in the choral music scene in his native Finland as an artistic director, educator and administrator. He has toured extensively across Europe and Asia as a conductor, performer, clinician and adjudicator.

Dr. Turunen has been awarded numerous international prizes with the choral ensembles he has directed: Akademiska Damkören Lyran, Akademiska Sångföreningen, Kampin Laulu Chamber Choir, Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae, Spira Ensemble and the professional early music ensembles Ensemble Petraloysio and I Dodici, with which he continues to work. He was a founding member of Lumen Valo and appeared with them in over 250 concerts and nine critically acclaimed recordings. In 2008, he was named Finnish Choral Conductor of the Year and is the recipient of over 20 grants from Finnish and Finnish-Swedish Cultural Foundations.

In addition to his artistic activities, Dr. Turunen has been active in festival administration. He is the Artistic Director of the 2022 Finnish-Swedish Song Celebration and the 2023 Tampere Vocal Music Festival and was the Artistic Director of the Aurore Renaissance Festival in Helsinki from 2015-2020. He was also Chair of the Finnish Choral Directors’ Association (FCDA) from 1997-2018.

Kari Turunen holds a doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki, and an MA in choral conducting from the Sibelius Academy. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, Anna.

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

Composer-in-Residence (2023/24) Andrew Balfour

Andrew Balfour, composer-in-residence

Of Cree descent (from Fisher River First Nation), Winnipeg-born, Toronto-based composer Andrew Balfour is an innovative composer/conductor/singer/sound designer with a large body of choral, instrumental, electroacoustic and orchestral works. His works have been performed and/or broadcast locally, nationally and internationally. More recently he has returned from a national tour of his album Nagamo, commissioned and performed by the Vancouver-based vocal ensemble musica intima and nominated for a 2023 Juno award.

Andrew has also worked and collaborated with many of Canada’s leading Indigenous musicians, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jeremy Dutcher and Cris Derksen, to name but a few. In 2021 Andrew co-lead the Indigenous Classical Music summit at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

He is also the founder and Artistic Director of the innovative, 14-member vocal group Dead of Winter, now in its 22nd year of offering a concert series in Winnipeg. Through this position, Andrew has specialized in creating “concept concerts” with Indigenous subject matter and collaborators. These innovative offerings explore a theme through an eclectic array of music, including new works, arrangements and innovative inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Andrew is passionate about music education and outreach, particularly in Northern communities and inner-city schools where he has worked on behalf of the National Arts Centre, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and various school divisions for the past ten years. In 2007 he received the Mayor of Winnipeg’s Making a Mark Award, sponsored by the Winnipeg Arts Council, to recognize the most promising midcareer artist in the city.

Administrative Team

Kari Turunen

Artistic Director

Steven Bélanger

Executive Director

Jon Washburn

Founder & Conductor Emeritus

Justin Bush

Operations and Patron Services Manager

Violet Goosen


Nat Marshik


Kiyomi Hori



Board of Directors


Julian Scott
Entrepreneur and Writer

Aneeka Sandher, LL.B., LLM.CL.
Legal Counsel, Medtronic Canada

Ishita Arora, CPA

Dr. Donna Hogge


Broek Bosma

Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré
Director, UBC School of Music and Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Emily M Cheung
Singers’ Representative

Afshaan Jiwaji Kapasi
Associate, Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP

Frances Roberts

Tamara Taggart

Adrianne Wurz

Honorary Patrons

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

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.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir acknowledges that it operates and performs on the unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful for this privilege.