History of Elektra
Elektra Women’s Choir was formed by Co-Founders Morna Edmundson and Diane Loomer, C.M. (1940 – 2012) in 1987. In 2009 Morna Edmundson was appointed Artistic Director and Diane Loomer, became Conductor Emerita. The choir is honoured to work with an outstanding accompanist, Dr. Stephen Smith.
Since 1987, over 180 singers whose ages have ranged from 17 to 79 have been members of Elektra. There are usually about 50 singers in the choir, all volunteers, many of whom travel long distances just to come to weekly rehearsals. For most, Monday nights have become time to be together with other women who want to work hard and produce something beautiful and meaningful. Some stay for a year or two, others much longer, and two have been with the choir from the very beginning. Singers have been teachers and students, arts administrators, lawyers and police officers, an architect and a pharmacist, choir directors and band leaders, organists, a flutist, a harpist, guitarists and pianists, dancers and a stilt walker, accountants, office workers and a financial planner, a sales manager and a preacher. They are typical 21st century women – with careers, homes, families, but even more – each has a strong passion for singing classical choral music at a high level.
Elektra has a strong relationship with many Canadian choral composers and arrangers and through its concerts, recordings, and website, proudly promotes new repertoire. In 2014, Cypress Choral Music launched the “Elektra Women’s Choir” series for advanced treble choirs. The choir has become a valued resource for conductors the world over looking to program the best of Canadian and international repertoire for treble voices. On its website, Elektra houses a permanent Repertoire Resources section, in which one can find all pieces programmed by Elektra since its inception. Curated lists such as “Top Canadian Picks,” and “Suitable for Young Voices” help guide conductors through the 500 works listed. This resource has become invaluable to conductors from around the world.
In 2010 and again in 2017 the choir took first place in the “Equal Voices – Women” category of the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs. Prior to 2010, the choir was awarded first prize for women’s choirs in four consecutive rounds of the biennial CBC National Choral Competition, as well as several major prizes for contemporary music performance. A multiple national prize-winning ensemble, Elektra has been honoured to perform at conferences of Choral Canada, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the International Society for Music Education, and the International Federation for Choral Music, where in the summer of 2017 it performed by invitation at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona, Spain.
Elektra’s principal impact is through its three-concert annual series, where new works are premiered, existing repertoire is brought to light, and guest artists complement and enrich the experience for choir and audience. Past guests have included A Touch of Brass, Nancy Argenta, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Borealis String Quartet, Brilliant Harmony, Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, Christ Church Cathedral Choir (Vancouver), Jane Coop, A.K. Coope, Rita Costanzi, Evelyn Creaser-Rumley, Nancy DiNovo, Sal Ferreras, Judith Forst, Martha Guth, Edward Henderson, Joe Trio, JouTou, Heidi Krutzen, Lorna McGhee, Bryn Nixon, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Jodi Proznick, Shelagh Rogers, Bramwell Tovey, Van Django, and many others. The choir has hosted guest conductors Javier Busto and Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo in significant and memorable artistic collaborations.
Ongoing outreach programs are a priority for Elektra, many of which encourage youth: Mira Mentorship Program for High School Singers (annually), Choral Leadership for Young Women workshop (annually), Girls Sing (annually), Reading Sessions of New Works (every 2 years), Conductor Mentorship Program (as requested), and a Women’s Singing workshop (periodically) ensure that Elektra’s music and activities are accessible to all. Each Christmas Elektra welcomes a local children’s choir to sing alongside Elektra and in their own solo spotlight.
Elektra enjoys interacting with other women’s choirs to share repertoire and technique, and has created a biennial, four-day festival in Vancouver called Tapestry International Celebration of Women’s Choirs. Any choir may apply to participate, from which up to three are selected. Each choir performs on its own and as part of the massed choir, which each of the participating conductors leads in repertoire of his/her choosing.
Elektra has 14 CDs available. Its first Elektra Women’s Choir (1992) was nominated for a JUNO award. The choir’s CDs are available through CD Baby and iTunes and are in constant demand locally, nationally, and internationally. Elektra is frequently heard on CBC radio broadcasts and on NPR in the United States.