Biography & History

VIVA Singers of Toronto is a not-for-profit choir with a mandate to give members, ages four through adult, the opportunity to achieve artistic excellence through a singer-centered and collaborative choral community.

VIVA was founded in 2000 by Carol Woodward Ratzlaff in response to widespread cuts to public school arts programs. As a long-time music educator, she believes that every person should have access to music education experience. With this in mind, VIVA committed to putting children at the forefront of our organization through the building blocks of leadership and mentoring, education, community, and inclusion.

VIVA offers diverse music programming, commissioned works and collaborations with distinguished musicians and composers, exciting performance and touring opportunities. We have an ongoing partnership with The National Ballet of Canada, The Toronto Consort, Jumblies Theatre, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts.

VIVA’s dedicated efforts to put children first has informed the music making process. We provide ongoing music education through theory classes, one-on-one vocal training, sight-singing, and an annual fall performing arts camp that is accessible for all choristers for participation. Children collaborate with teaching assistants and vocal coaches to explore their own creativity and ideation through songwriting.

VIVA’s Choral Mentoring and Leadership Program provides young leaders and aspiring educators with vital opportunities to assist with and instruct singers of all ages and needs. It is essential to VIVA’s structure as we draw teaching assistants and vocal coaches from the Community & Chamber Choirs.

In 2019, VIVA celebrates its 20th season with a total of seven choirs. These choirs continue to bring people of all ages, all abilities, and all levels of music experience together through the power of choral music. We continue to push the boundaries by providing groundbreaking research in vocal academia including voices in the transgender community and push for inclusivity to ensure that anyone who enjoys music is welcomed at VIVA.

VIVA’s goal of authentic music-making and community-building through the best possible repertoire is achieved by a team of fine musicians and educators, members of the Choral Mentoring & Leadership Program, and a dynamic Board of Directors.

Website Photography by: Erika Jacobs, Bill Fallis, Ria Tzimas, Kate Fowley, Simon Au

Past Season Highlights

2018-2019

  • November 11 Chamber Choir will sing in Remembrance Service
  • December  1 Ceremony of Carols Concert for All Choirs
  • December 9 Nine Lessons and Carols for Main Chorus
  • January 25 Chamber Choir Concert at Regis College
  • March 22– ECS & Community Choir Concert at Regis College
  • April 6  Jr. Treble Festival at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church  with Cristian Grases
  • April 7  SATB Youth Sing 2019 – with Cristian Grases
  • April Song Writing workshops with Peter Katz!
  • May 1 Annual Fundraising Dinner Gala
  • May 25 You’ve Got a Friend Concert for All

2017-18

  • VIVA! Youth Singers responded to the findings of the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission exploring music/arts inspired by First Nations and indigenous peoples, and engaging in a cultural dialogue with our young singers, guest musicians, and community leaders
  • January 27 Concert The Time of Snow
  • March 30 Concert Pergolesi Stabat Mater, MacMillan Cantos Sagrados and  Balfour Take the Indian 
  • April 7 Treble Choir Festival in St. Catharines
  • May 23 Concert by Community Choir and ECS at Regis College, U of T
  • June 2 Concert Ambe…Welcome! 
  • June 10 Concert at Christie Gardens

2016-17

  • December Concert Carol of the Child
  • February Performance at Leonard Cohen: Ethics and The Artist
  • May Youngest Choirs Performance at a local retirement residence
  • May Concert Juntos (Together) – España meets Canada at 150 
  • July Tour to Spain

2015-16

  • Performance at the Metro Convention Centre at the Children’s Aid Foundation Gala
  • November Concert – SHANTI! Our Native Land with Cree Hand Drummer and Song Catcher Veronica Johnny
  • March – Bach John Passion for Main Chorus and Chamber Youth Choir with orchestra and the Trinity St. Paul’s United Church Choir
  • June – The Sword in the Schoolyard, A World Premiere composed by Dean Burry

2014-15

  • performance at the Bliss Ball Fundraiser for the Dilawri Foundation
  • Chamber Youth Choir performance at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre’s Remembrance Day Service
  • January concert Songs of Innocence with guest artist Michelle Colton, percussion
  • Main Chorus participation at the Ontario Vocal Festival in Caledon in February
  • Noon Hour Concert at Roy Thomson Hall by Main Chorus and Chamber Youth Choir in March
  • The Play of Daniel, a medieval liturgical drama, with The Toronto Consort
  • June concert Sumer is Icumen In with guest artists Colin Savage, recorder and Terry McKenna, lute

2013-14

  • Canada’s Walk of Fame Performance with rocker Alice Cooper in honour of legendary music producer Bob Ezrin, broadcast on Global TV
  • performance at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre’s 100th Anniversary Chandelier Gala
  • 5th Annual City Carol Sing, a foodbank fundraiser, broadcast on City TV
  • Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, a seasonal concert
  • Requiem by W. A. Mozart with the Talisker Players Orchestra
  • Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic operetta The Mikado  performed by all choirs with the Kingsway Chamber Strings

2012-13

  • children’s opera Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten
  • A Medieval Bestiary with Toronto Consort by Dean Burry

2011-12

  • music inspired by Greek mythology
  • music by Greek Canadian Christos Hatzis
  • Greek folk dancer participation
  • all choirs house organization by Greek gods
  • season culminating tour to Greece in July 2012