Our mission statement is:
“We enrich lives through choral music experiences.”
Choral music is an important cultural activity in Waterloo Region, with its Mennonite and German roots.
The Grand Philharmonic Choir traces its roots back to the 19th century, when Kitchener was named Berlin. A defining feature of local life was the singing festival (sängerfest) that attracted thousands of people; this has formed a lasting foundation of appreciation for choral music.
The choir has operated continuously since 1922. We are now four choirs in one organization: a large symphonic adult chorus, a smaller chamber choir drawn from the ranks of that chorus, a youth choir comprised of singers aged 14 to 23, and a children’s choir for young singers from age 7 to 14.
We produce, perform, and share choral music in and around Waterloo Region. Our offerings range from a formal concert series with professional orchestra and world-class soloists to free, open sing-along opportunities for the public.
We provide music education experiences for our singers and the wider community. Our children and youth choirs, totalling more than 90 young singers, engage in a formal music education program including ear training, performance skills, voice production, sight reading and music theory.
In 1972, Howard Dyck became artistic director and continued for another 38 years before retiring in July 2010. Ambitious and visionary, Howard built the choir’s performance standards, artistic ambition and administrative support. When the city’s 1,800-seat, acoustically fine concert hall, Centre in the Square, opened in 1982, it quickly became the choir’s home venue.
The children’s choir was begun in 1985, and the youth choir in 1998. The youth choir quickly became one of the best ensembles in Canada, winning first place in the youth category, mixed voices, at the CBC National Competition of Amateur Choirs.
After a year-long search across North America for a new artistic director, the choir hired Mark Vuorinen to be its artistic director in 2010. He has brought intense focus on performance standards, an innovative approach to programming, and commitment to outreach and collaboration. He is assistant professor of music at Conrad Grebel University College at University of Waterloo, with responsibility for the university’s choral music program.
In 2013, under the direction of Amanda Brunk, the youth choir took first place for mixed-voice choir at the Summa Cum Laude choral competition in Austria. A European tour is planned for July 2016.
The children’s choir is making its second CD recording in 2016, and travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2014, for the Queen City Children’s Choir Festival. Another tour is planned for 2017.
The adult choir is one of the few choral performing organizations in Canada, outside the major metropolitan centres, with its own season, featuring performances of choral music with professional orchestra in a professionally managed concert hall.