Carol Woodward Ratzlaff, Artistic Director and Founder of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto, Main Chorus Conductor, ECS Conductor, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Choir Co-Conductor

Carol Headshot Feb 2016

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!’s six choirs serve both children and adult singers; the Everyone Can Sing Choir welcomes young people and adults with disabilities. From its founding, each of VIVA!’s choirs has fostered the mentorship of young musicians and emerging leaders.

A past presenter at international conferences (I.S.M.E.) in Greece and (A.C.D.A.) in the U.S., Carol continues to share VIVA!’s unique choral vision by delivering papers for the Ontario Music Educators Assoc., and in June, 2018 at Choral Canada’s Podium in St. John’s, NL.

Carol has performed across Canada and internationally as a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Elora Festival Singers, and as a guest artist with Toronto Consort, the Toronto Chamber Choir, and the Pax Christi Chorale. She 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 Western University and the University of Toronto.

Since retirement from North Toronto, she has continued her work as Artistic Director of VIVA! Youth Singers, has been engaged as a Sessional Lecturer at the U of T in Choral Conducting at the Faculty of Music, and as an Instructor for the Intermediate/Senior Vocal Music AQ Course at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Brad Ratzlaff, Associate Artistic Director/Accompanist, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Choir Co-Conductor

Brad RatzlaffBrad 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. 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, Preparatory Chorus Conductor


Soprano Susan Suchard is a native of London, Ontario. She holds a BMus from Western University and an MMus in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto.

As a singer, she is currently a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and has been a member of the professional core of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Elora Festival Singers, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and the Canadian Opera Company Chorus.

Susan maintains a busy schedule teaching private voice lessons from her Studio at Trinity St. Paul’s, where her students also engage in regular studio classes and recitals.

As a conductor/teacher, Susan has been a conductor of VIVA!’s Preparatory Chorus since 2000. She has conducted shows for Tapestry Opera and Jumblies Theatre and is a frequent conductor for the Rosedale United Church Choir. She was an Artist Educator for the Canadian Opera Company and a music teacher in the public school system.

In her role as an arts administrator, she was general manager of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto for six years and managing editor of Opera Canada magazine for five years.

Laura Menard, Junior Chorus Conductor

Laura Menard

Laura is enjoying her twelfth season as the Conductor of the Junior Chorus; and is also the Soprano Lead of the Chamber Choir.  She has held many roles during her nineteen years with VIVA! – some ongoing – including Camp Coordinator, Teaching Assistant, General Manager, and Chorus Coordinator for The Nutcracker with the National Ballet of Canada.  

This September, Laura started working towards a PhD in Music Education at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.  She completed her M.A. in Music Education in 2016, and was the 2015-2016 recipient of the Kenneth and Helen Bray and University of Toronto Fellowships.  Laura earned her 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.  Laura’s research interests center on the experiences and expectations of music learners, and on inclusive music education practices.

Laura is also excited to be in her eleventh year as a secondary school teacher at Humberside C.I., where she teaches Vocal and Strings.  Since 2017, Laura been a member of the Teacher Facilitator team at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre for the Summer Arts in Leadership (SAIL) program, leading the Vocal Program.

As a performer, Laura relishes opportunities to sing with fellow choral enthusiasts in a variety of settings, including with the VIVA! Chamber Choir, the Trinity-St. Paul’s Church Choir, and ukulele jams with friends.

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.


Christina Haldane, Vocal Development Coordinator

‘‘Se Pietato the dazzling coloratura of Da tempeste. OPERA MAGAZINE 

the best of the bunch, Christina Haldane, had sadly little airtime as Quiterias pal Lucinda’  THE TIMES, LONDON

Canadian British soprano Christina Raphaëlle Haldaneenjoys an active career in the UK, Europe, Asia and North America. She is a bilingual English and French speaker, and her Canadian heritage is Acadian, from Caraquet, NB. She has sung principle roles for The Finnish National Opera, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera and Musica Viva Hong Kong, as well as for festivals Iford Arts, Longborough, Swansea City and Buxton, in the UK. Her roles include Cleopatra in Handel’s Julius Caesar, the title role in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, Fiorilla in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia, Nella in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Adina in Donizetti’s Elisir d’Amore, Clorinda in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Lucinda in Mendelssohn’s Die Hochzeit des Camacho, both the Vixen and the Fox in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen,Rapunzel in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. An accomplished concert performer, she has performed with many renowned orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Capella Cracoviensis. Christina is also a dedicated interpreter of song repertoire, regularly performing on the recital platform in both the UK and Canada. In September 2015, Christina commenced the DMA in voice performance at the University of Toronto, under the tutelage of Prof. Darryl Edwards, and is currently going into the fourth year of her studies. Highlights from the 2016/ 2017 season include covering the role of Silvia in Thomas Adès’ exciting new opera The Exterminating Angel, for both the Salzburg festival and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and also covering the role of Sifare in Graham Vick’s acclaimed production of Mozart’s Mitridate, for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Christina made her critically acclaimed Canadian operatic debut in Toronto in Nov 2017, performing the title role in Handel’s Rodelindafor Opera in Concert. Christina’s 2018 begins with exciting plans for her first solo recording to be released later this year, ‘From Sea to Sea’ a collection of Canadian arts songs. This project received full funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, and she is grateful for their support.