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One Voice Chorus

29 Mar Posted by in Schedule | Comments
One Voice Chorus

One Voice Chorus (OVC) is a mixed choir for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, and queer singers, and their cisgender allies. We are an auditioned choir with a wide-ranging repertoire: from classical to jazz, from madrigals to show tunes, and more!

OVC was founded in September 2011. Four singers signed up for auditions the first night and a choir was born. From four singers we quickly grew to ten and made our debut at a Christmas concert hosted by the Unitarian Church of Calgary in December 2011. By the spring of 2012, we had 17 singers on the roster and were ready to contemplate presenting our own concert. We brought the curtain down, ending our first season on a high note. Our debut concert in June 2012 launched us officially as Calgary’s new LGBT choir. We were joined on stage by the Calgary Men’s Chorus, whom we regard proudly as our big brothers.

Many years have rolled by now since we first opened our doors to singers. We’re a fully-fledged choir of nearly 45 singers that presents two concerts each season, an additional cabaret-style concert every second year, and various guest appearances and collaborations. While the pandemic, unfortunately, brought the cabaret to a screeching halt, we hope to revive this valued tradition in future years.

OVC is thankful to be performing live once again, and we are delighted to have our new Artistic Director, Cass Bessette, bravely guiding us. It is their hope to help the choir continue to evolve while keeping the legacy of the choir intact. 

Some of the new endeavours we may begin to explore in the coming years include interdisciplinary performance art, workshops with artists outside the realm of music, and technology-enhanced performances.

This season, One Voice Chorus is headed to Halifax to participate in the Unison Festival, which is a quadrennial weekend choral festival featuring Canada’s 2SLGBTQIA+ choruses. The theme this year is “Open Harbour” and we’ve programmed a diverse array of repertoire that highlights the importance of coming together and supporting one another, especially in challenging times. This noon-hour presentation features a handful of works that we will be performing both in Halifax and here in Calgary at our concert, Mainstay, where we will be joined by co-hosts Calgary Men’s Chorus at the Rosza Centre on June 3, 2023. Come and celebrate the power of unity and community with us!

Artistic Director Cass Bessette

Cass is a choral composer, arranger, and conductor based in Calgary, AB.  They have been involved in the YYC choral community for nearly a decade, performing and directing with several local ensembles, and have shared the stage with many esteemed artists, including Tanya Tagaq, Chris Hadfield, The Tenors, Joshua Rist, and Eric Whitacre.  Cass currently holds the position of Artistic Director with the Calgary Men’s Chorus, One Voice Chorus, and the Daytime Choir at Youth Singers of Calgary, and teaches at The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts. Cass has become well-known for their bold approach to performance as well as their ability to lift up and encourage fearlessness in others.  Fascinated by interdisciplinary performance art, Cass seeks out new creative intersections and aims to bring an enhanced choral experience to singers and their audiences alike.  They also have a passion for digital audio production and continue to develop their knowledge further through their partnership with local studio Morgan Music (John Morgan). When they aren’t busy creating music, Cass enjoys spending time at home with their two kitties, gaming, and going to the cinema.

Collaborative Pianist Melissa Ko

Playing piano has been a part of Melissa’s life for 30 years. She has accompanied various musical theater groups, school choirs, and community choirs over the years including Storybook Theater, The Youth Singers of Calgary, Front Row Centre Players, Centennial High School Concert and Jazz Choirs, The Calgary Multicultural Choir, Morpheus Theater, Cum Vino Cantus, and the University of Calgary Chamber Choir. Melissa currently plays for Mount Royal University’s Artio, Arioso and Aria choirs. Melissa is the Scarboro Arts Director and pianist at Scarboro United Church working alongside beloved Mount Royal music director, Liz Paynter. Melissa began her serious piano studies at the Mount Royal Conservatory and continued on to the University of Calgary before enjoying a multitude of accompanying jobs throughout the city.

OVC’s YouTube channel link

Cass Bessette’s YouTube posting from the winter concert

All full videos from our winter concert as well as short highlight clips for social media 

This concert is the third in a series of seven Choral Concerts during 2023 generously sponsored by: