Unison Festival Unisson 2018
May 18 to 21, 2018 • Calgary
Calgary is pleased and honoured to host the 2018 Unison festival. This festival marks 20 years since Edmonton hosted the very first Canadian LGBTQ2 choir festival in 1998. Welcome back to Alberta for this exciting anniversary edition of Unison Festival Unisson!
First-Class Concert Hall
We have chosen Mount Royal University as the venue for the 2018 festival. The festival concerts will be held in the University’s flagship theatre, the Bella Concert Hall, at the heart of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts. Designed for choral and orchestral performances, the Bella is stunning, intimate, and acoustically superb
Gay Choral Village on Campus
When choirsters arrive for the festival, they will be stepping into a pop-up gay village created just for you. Sing, sleep, eat and play, all right on campus! Accommodations will be in the University’s student residences, so they will never be far from the action. Festival concerts, dining, and after-hours events will all be within easy walking distance.
The theme for the 2018 Unison festival is “Be Creative!” Our artistic directors, Jean-Louis Bleau and Jane Perry, are crafting a weekend of creative collaboration for your enjoyment. We are throwing the doors wide open to new creations, as we seek to build community within Calgary and across the country through collaboration. The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony and concert on Friday night in the Bella Concert Hall. Host choirs Calgary Men’s Chorus, One Voice Chorus, and the BarberEllas will take the stage to welcome everyone to Calgary. To close the concert, they will be joined by singers from local youth choirs. This massed choir, some 200 voices strong, may just raise the roof! On Saturday and Sunday, the festival swings into its customary rhythm. Each participating choir or ensemble will perform in one of the concert blocks in the Bella Concert Hall. As always, these concert blocks are the heart of the Unison festival. Saturday evening, Calgary introduces the Musi-Circus: an indoor street festival of music and arts in three campus theatres, culminating in a late-night concert in the Bella Concert Hall. Stay tuned for more news about this thrilling new feature event! We have saved a special treat for the closing concert on Monday morning. The 2018 Unison festival will feature one festival chorus: an SATB choir that will perform with orchestra at the closing concert in the Bella Concert Hall. The closing concert will also include highlights from the festival: pieces presented by participating choirs that stood out. These choirs will be invited to reprise their pieces at the closing concert
History of Unison Festival Unisson
Edmonton Unison 1998
The Unison Festival began in Edmonton in 1998, after the then artistic director of Edmonton Vocal Minority, David Garber, suggested a weekend choral festival to bring together Canadian LGBTQ choruses, who may not otherwise be able to attend the week-long GALA festivals that take place in the United States. Quickly gaining the support of the Edmonton LGBTQ community, the inaugural Canadian GALA Choruses Festival ’98 proved to be a resounding success, bringing together 15 choruses from across Canada, eager to return for another festival.
Unison Toronto 2002
As with the Olympics and GALA Chorus festivals, the decision was made to hold the Unison Festival every four years, with the 2002 festival being held in Toronto. The four-day festival was hosted by four local choruses: Forte the Toronto Men’s Chorus, IRIS the Toronto Women’s Chorus, Rainbow Voices of Toronto and Singing Out! Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Toronto. With 18 choruses attending, the 2002 Toronto festival helped to establish Unison as a new tradition for Canadian GALA choruses.
Unison Vancouver 2006
2006 saw the Unison Festival find a home in Vancouver, with artistic direction provided by local composer Willi Zwozdesky. With the slogan ‘One Sound’, the 2006 Vancouver festival saw the largest number of hosting choirs to date, welcoming over 500 delegates from over 15 choirs to the Chan Centre. In describing the event, Willi highlighted how Unison is, “a rare opportunity to see what the choral movement is accomplishing across Canada. What musicians sing on the East Coast is often very different from what you may experience locally.” Unison Winnipeg 2010 Hot on the heels of Vancouver, Unison found its next home in Winnipeg for 2010, with an attendance of 514 delegates. Hosted by Winnipeg’s own Rainbow Harmony Project, with all performances and concert blocks held at the acoustically wonderful Knox United Church, 15 choirs enjoyed the hospitality of Winnipeg’s LGBTQ community over four days full of beautiful song, engaging workshops and memorable social events. It was also during the 2010 festival that the decision was made to create a formal national Unison organization, to develop and maintain formal guidelines regarding the hosting of futures Unison events.
Unison Ottawa 2014
Unison Ottawa 2014, the fifth edition of a once-in-four-years, LGBTQ choral festival that brings together choristers and other music artists from across Canada came to the nation’s capital for the first time ever. Unison Ottawa 2014, under the leadership of Artistic Director Kurt Ala-Kantti, offered a showcase of the cross-country LGBTQ choral scene, and artistic and social networking to choruses within Canada’s LGBTQ communities. Co-hosted by Local choirs, the four-day festival at École secondaire publique De La Salle (501 Old St Patrick Street) had over 500 delegates participate, the largest festival to date!