Carol Woodward Ratzlaff, Artistic Director and Founder of VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto, Main Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus Co-Conductor, ECS Conductor, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Choir Co-Conductor
Carol 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, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and this year, the Elmer Iseler Singers. 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. From its founding, each of VIVA’s choirs has fostered the mentorship of young musicians and emerging leaders.
Carol continues to share VIVA’s unique choral vision at international conferences (I.S.M.E.) in Greece and (A.C.D.A.) in the U.S., and in Canada at Podium and the O.M.E.A.
Carol has performed across Canada and internationally as a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Elora Festival Singers, and other area choral organizations. 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, coordinated Vocal Clinicians for Ontario Music Educators Assoc., and has been engaged as a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Toronto.
Brad Ratzlaff, Associate Artistic Director/Accompanist, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Choir Co-Conductor
Brad is currently Music Director/Organist at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, and Conductor and 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
Susan is a native of London, Ontario. She holds a BMus from Western University and an MMus in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto.
Now in her sixteenth year with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, Susan is a seasoned professional chorister with deep roots within the choral and opera communities in and around Toronto.
She currently teaches private voice lessons from her studio at Trinity-St. Paul’s in downtown Toronto, where her students also engage in regular master classes and recitals.
As a conductor/teacher, Susan is celebrating her twentieth year as conductor of VIVA’s Preparatory Chorus. She is Assistant Conductor for the Rosedale United Church Choir. Susan conducted the Northern Ontario tour of Elijah’s Kite and performances of Sanctuary Song for Tapestry Opera. For Jumblies Theatre, she conducted Juliet Palmer’s Like an Old Tale. She was an Artist Educator for the Canadian Opera Company and a music teacher in the public school system.
In her role as arts administrator, Susan was General Manager of VIVA Youth Singers of Toronto from 2012 to 2018 and Managing Editor of Opera Canada magazine for five years.
Laura Menard, Main Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus Co-Conductor
Laura is enjoying her thirteenth season as the Co-Conductor of the Man Chorus and Senior Treble 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.
Laura is 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.
Ayanda Dalamba, Junior Choir Conductor
Ayanda is a Toronto native who has taught with the TDSB for over ten years and is currently thrilled to be running the vocal music program at North Toronto C.I. She recently received her master’s degree in music education from Columbia University after spending two years living, studying, and teaching in New York City. Ayanda is passionate about choral music and a core part of her philosophy of music education involves the critical role community plays in meaningful music making. She loves working with young people and in her teaching and learning always places emphasis on wellness and building positive relationships. Ayanda is incredibly grateful to be part of the VIVA family and to be able to give back to the thriving Toronto musical community that has given her so much.
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.