About the Choir

History

The Ottawa Brahms Choir was founded as the "Johannes Brahms Choir" in late 1980 by musical director Mr. Dieter Kiesewalter.

Over the years since then, the choir's repertoire has consisted primarily of German-language choral works from the renaissance to the modern periods, including many by Hassler, Schuetz, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms and Mendelssohn.

The choir has usually performed two major concerts a year and has been joined in concert performances by guest choirs from both the Ottawa area and abroad and smaller vocal and instrumental groups and soloists.

In April 2005, the year of the choir's 25th anniversary, the choir performed the first of a series of three concerts with the following groups: Carleton University's Early Music Ensemble, the Croatian Folk Ensemble and the Alpentrio. Highlights of the program were Telemann's Schulmeister Kantate, with the choir's conductor, Iain Phillips, as soloist, and a premiere performance of two songs written and composed especially in recognition of the choir's 25th anniversary by Ottawa composer and musician Helmut Seemann.

After the untimely death of Iain Phillips, Jiri Hlavacek became the new director. Under his direction the choir performed Ryba's Czech Christmas Mass in December 2006.

Over the years the Ottawa Brahms Choir has evolved into a community choir with a classical and contemporary repertoire, singing in German, English and French.

In the spring of 2011 the closing event of their 30th anniversary featured the Brahms German Requiem, Opus 40, directed by Kurt Ala-Kantti.

The 2011-2012 season was closed with a sold out performance of Orff's Carmina Burana.

From 2012 to 2014 the choir was directed by Denise Hawkins and accompanied by Ioulia Blinova, with Jenna Richards, and continued to offer audiences a wide range of choral music, from classical to contemporary, while maintaining its roots in the German repertoire.

In July 2014 Christopher Askwith was appointed new director. In 2015, the choir entered its 35th season, and Svetlana Logigan became our new accompanist.

Musical Director

Christopher Askwith graduated from Carleton University in 2006, having studied classical voice with Susan Blyth-Schofield and taken classes in composition (and, subsequently, conducting). He has been active in Ottawa's choral scene for nearly twenty years, as a member of the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir, Carleton University Choir, Ottawa Choral Society, and Ottawa Bach Choir.

Christopher is a founding member of the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa, and remains with that choir, not only as a chorister, but also in the capacity of Composer-in-Residence. He has conducted choral workshops for youth and briefly conducted a small local choir, the Vista Singers, and looks forward to the opportunity and challenge of working with the Ottawa Brahms Choir.

Charter

Vision

To serve Ottawa's multicultural musical tradition, and to offer an authentic voice for original German language choral works, with some emphasis on Brahms and the classical and romantic repertoire.

Mission

The Ottawa Brahms Choir strives for excellence in the choice and interpretation of original international choir works in the folkloric and polyphonic choral traditions, respectful of musical history. As the only Ottawa chamber choir with an active German-spoken musical background, it will continue to build on this strength in understanding by offering at least two major annual concerts. The choir will continue to prepare choral concerts around annual celebrations and composers' special anniversaries. The choir will strive to secure sufficient financial and human resources support to realize its chosen concert projects.