Carol Woodward Ratzlaff, Artistic Director and Founder of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto
Carol Woodward Ratzlaff is a conductor, singer, and educator who has prepared youth choirs for international choral competitions and a variety of professional appearances with the National Ballet of Canada, the Toronto Consort, Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Orpheus Choir, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Recently retired from North Toronto C.I.’s Music Dept., she has taught Vocal Music in public and independent schools at both the elementary and secondary levels.
In 2000, Carol founded VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto, comprising some of Toronto’s finest musicians and singers. VIVA!’s artistic vision is centered on musical excellence and social inclusion with a commitment to regular commissioning and touring as essential components of musical growth. VIVA! provides opportunities for young people with disabilities to participate in and contribute to an excellent choir. Ten per cent of its membership benefits from support through individualized programming and accommodation. From its founding, each of VIVA!’s five choirs has fostered the mentorship of young musicians and emerging leaders.
Recently, Carol was invited to present VIVA!’s unique vision of choral music education in her paper Challenging the Children’s Choir Movement to Inclusionary Excellence at the International Society for Music Education in Thessaloniki, Greece (2012), the American Choral Director’s Association in Dallas, Texas (2013), and at Choral Canada’s Podium in Halifax (2014).
Carol has appeared with several area arts organizations as a soloist. She has performed across Canada and internationally as a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Elora Festival Singers, and currently sings with Choir 21.
Carol holds a M.Mus. in vocal performance from the University of British Columbia, with degrees in vocal performance and music education from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. She is an Instructor for the Intermediate/Senior Vocal Music Qualifications at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
Brad Ratzlaff, Associate Artistic Director/Accompanist
Brad Ratzlaff is currently Music Director/Organist at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, and Associate Artistic Director/Accompanist of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. He is also a piano instructor at the Kingsway Conservatory of Music. For several years Brad was on the teaching faculty at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and Artistic Director of the Hart House Chorus, University of Toronto. He has twice been the recipient of the Elmer Iseler Fellowship in choral conducting, and holds a M.Mus in Performance (Conducting) at the University of Toronto, along with Associate Degrees from the Royal Conservatory of Music (piano) and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Brad is a former member of the bass section of several professional choirs, including the Concertgebuow Choir of Amsterdam, the Elora Festival Singers, and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Brad studied piano with Ruth Watson Henderson, organ with John Tuttle, and conducting with Jon Washburn, Leonard Ratzlaff, Doreen Rao, Helmuth Rilling, and the late Elmer Iseler.
Susan Suchard, General Manager and Preparatory Chorus Conductor
After two years as a secondary school music teacher in her native London, ON, Susan Suchard moved to Toronto to pursue a career in music theatre, whereupon she immediately began singing with the Canadian Opera Company Chorus and various Toronto-area professional choirs. Among her activities as a professional freelance singer, Susan is currently a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and section lead for the Choir of Rosedale United Church.
Susan holds a Master of Music in Performance degree with a specialty in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto and enjoys working with singers in her Voice Studio at the Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. She has exercised her administrative skills in her capacity as Managing Editor for Opera Canada Magazine, as a Leadership Legacy Intern for Tapestry Opera and currently as General Manager of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. Her conducting credits include Tapestry Opera, Jumblies Theatre and eighteen seasons with VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto.
Laura Menard, Junior Chorus Conductor
In 2017-18, Laura will be celebrating her eleventh year as the Conductor of the Junior Chorus; and fourth working with the Chamber Choir. She has held many roles during her eighteen years with VIVA! – some ongoing – including Chorister, Camp Coordinator, Teaching Assistant, General Manager, and Chorus Coordinator for The Nutcracker with the National Ballet of Canada.
Laura holds an Hon. B.A. and B.Ed. from the University of Toronto, and received the Don Wright Scholarship in Music Education for Choral Music from OISE in 2007. She has recently completed her M.A. in Music Education at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, and was the 2015-2016 recipient of the Kenneth and Helen Bray and University of Toronto Fellowships. Laura’s research interests center on the ensemble-based music-making experiences of both professional and amateur musicians.
Laura is also excited to be in her tenth year as a secondary school teacher at Humberside C.I., where she directs the Vocal program and teaches Junior Band.
As a performer, Laura relishes opportunities to sing with fellow choral enthusiasts in both formal and informal settings, including with the VIVA! Chamber Choir, the Trinity-St. Paul’s Church Choir, and ukulele jams with friends.
Carol Woodward Ratzlaff and Brad Ratzlaff, ECS Chorus C0-Conductors
Julie Wildgoose, Inclusion Consultant
Julie is a retired elementary school teacher with Specialist certification in both Special Education and Vocal Music. She taught for 30 years for the TDSB at Sunny View Public School, in a congregated setting for children with special needs.
Julie has been singing in school and church choirs since she was six years old, and is currently a member of the choir of Rosedale United Church. She also conducts the Children’s choir and assists with the Youth Band at the church.
Julie holds a B.A. (Hons) in French from Trinity College, University of Toronto and a B.Ed. from Toronto Teachers’ College. She enjoys tutoring children in French, but she also enjoys working on a one-to-one basis with children who have special needs.