Carol Woodward Ratzlaff
Artistic Director and Founder of VIVA Singers Toronto, Co-Conductor of Main Chorus, Chamber Youth Leadership Chorus, Community Choir, Chamber Singers and Conductor of the Every Voice Matters Chorus.
As per Carol’s vision, at the heart of VIVA is exceptional programming for children and youth by "doing choir differently." VIVA choirs embrace choral music artistry through chorister creation, innovative vocal programming, inclusive practices, and the development of strong community connections. Carol’s commitment to innovation and excellence in community music-making has led to the development of unique foci for each of VIVA’s choirs, including those for adult singers at all levels of experience, and a leadership-based youth choir. An all-abilities, inclusive approach to choral music education and performance is central to the identity of the Every Voice Matters Chorus for teens and adults with disabilities, and to each of VIVA’s seven choirs. From its founding, all VIVA choirs have fostered the mentorship of young musicians and emerging educators through the Choral Mentoring & Leadership Program. VIVA, with its dynamic artistic and administrative staff, and dedicated choristers, continues to engage in the creation of innovative musical spaces where artistic excellence is inclusive.
Carol maintains an active career as a choral conductor, educator, singer, and private voice teacher, after her retirement from the Toronto District School Board. Having recently joined the Faculty at the Oscar Peterson School of Music, Royal Conservatory of Music, Carol has also continued to share her passion for vocal music education as a Sessional Instructor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto; and with Vocal Music Teacher candidates at OISE, University of Toronto and the Faculty of Education, University of Windsor. Through Carol’s diverse teaching outlets, her former students can be found in university music faculties, as award-winning singer/songwriters, as music teachers across the GTA and beyond, and as lifelong advocates for the power of choral music.
Carol has performed across Canada and internationally as a member of the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Elora Festival Singers, the professional core of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Soundstreams’ Choir 21, and has been engaged as a guest artist with the Pax Christi Chorale, the Toronto Chamber Choir, and the Toronto Consort.
Carol continues to prepare singers for international and national choral competitions, festivals, and professional appearances, including with The National Ballet of Canada, the Toronto Consort, Jumblies Theatre, Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and L’Arche Toronto Sol Express. In 2006, she was a candidate finalist for the Leslie Bell Prize in Choral Conducting. In 2021, Carol was the winner and recipient of the President’s Leadership Award by Choirs Ontario.
Carol is committed to sharing VIVA’s unique approach to choral singing at international conferences such as those presented by the International Society for Music Education, the American Choral Directors Association, Podium (Choral Canada), and the Ontario Music Educators' Association. Carol is a PhD student in Music Education at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. She holds a MMus 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.
Associate Artistic Director of VIVA Adult Choirs, Accompanist, Conductor of Community Choir and Co-Conductor of Chamber Singers
Brad is currently Music Director/Organist at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, and Conductor and Accompanist of VIVA Singers 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.
Dr Laura Menard
Associate Artistic Director of VIVA Youth Choirs, Co-Conductor of Main Chorus and Chamber Youth Leadership Singers
Dr Laura Menard, OCT, received her PhD in Music Education from the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. She is the Co-Conductor of the Main Chorus and Chamber Youth Leadership Singers; and is also the Soprano Lead of the Chamber Singers. She has held many roles during her twenty-plus years with VIVA - some ongoing, including her work as Camp Coordinator; Chorus Coordinator for The Nutcracker with the National Ballet of Canada; and developing VIVA’s exciting and unique Creation Stream programming for youth and adults.
Currently, Laura is a course instructor at OISE, working with pre-service Intermediate/Senior Music teachers; coordinator of SoundLife Scarborough, an innovative and accessible community-engaged music hub at the University of Toronto Scarborough; coordinator of the Creative Communities Commons at School of Cities; and as a Research Assistant at UTSC. Laura has been a secondary school teacher with the Toronto District School Board since 2007.
Laura’s research and pedagogy focus on intersections between student agency, space and sound; and equitable and inclusive music education practices. She is passionate about creating safe spaces for musicians of all ages and stages to take risks, develop skills, and expand their creative horizons. As a performer, Laura relishes opportunities to sing with fellow choral enthusiasts in a variety of settings, including impromptu sing-alongs, and ukulele jams with friends.
Preparatory Chorus Conductor
Edmee is delighted to be conducting the Preparatory Chorus at VIVA. A strong believer in music’s ability to build community, creativity, and connection, Edmee teaches Junior and Middle School Music at St. Clement’s School and leads the school’s Choral and Strings programs. Prior to joining the St. Clement’s community, she taught at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. Edmee taught for eight years with Timothy Eaton Memorial Church’s Choir School, where she co-directed the children’s music program and taught choral music through song, movement, and play to kids from kindergarten through Grade 4.
A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT, piano; Gr. 10, cello) and the University of Toronto (Hon. B.Mus. and B.Ed.), Edmee has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Lloyd Bradshaw Prize for choral conducting, the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award and a Klingenstein Summer Institute Fellowship at Columbia University. She loves to explore the ways music can nurture relationships, create change, and speak to our sense of wonder.
Junior Chorus Conductor
Alison Roy grew up in the Ottawa area but has made her home in Toronto for the past 30 years. She has worked as both a professional singer and music educator in the GTA. Alison studied English and French Literature at Western and Music at McGill University. Alison believes that singing in choirs is a great community activity and beyond learning music literacy skills, can help children with feelings of inclusion and sense of self.
Most recently, Alison has been studying First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples and a way to include Indigenous Knowledge throughout the school curriculum and, in partnership with Indigenous musicians, in choral music. Alison looks forward to joining the VIVA Singers community in 2023 and working with the Junior Chorus.
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.
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.
Dr. Darryl Edwards
Vocal Coach and Consultant
With magnetizing insight, Darryl Edwards animates pathways new and old in his work with young vocal artists in choirs for concert performances and solo vocal artists for the operatic stage. Toward
storytelling and discovery, he melds his vibrant international experiences to gather and empower
singers to their fullest realizations in radiating the world’s interactive dramas.
Dr. Edwards is Professor of Voice Studies at the University of Toronto where he has taught for over two decades. He has been recognized as an innovator in teaching, learning, and performance training. With a doctorate in musical arts (Michigan), degrees in music and education (Western), and performing and teaching experiences in the USA, China, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Syria, Brazil, New Zealand, the UK and Norway, he flourishes in the creation and nurturing of artistry with singers as they discover access to their own resources.
Darryl Edwards is a former board member of Viva Singers Toronto. He is delighted to renew his
commitment to “access, accuracy, artistry, and advocacy,” through Founding Artistic Director Carol
Ratzlaff’s inspired and inspiring work with the organization.
A more comprehensive look at Darryl Edwards’ bio and work is available at darryledwards.ca and
EVM Chorus Assistant Conductor
Michael Denomme is a Canadian musician, educator, conductor, and performer, holding a Bachelor of Music with honorary standing from the University of Toronto. Previously, he has studied piano with Brian McDonagh and Elsa Tafel, historical keyboards and organ with Dr. Kevin Komasarik, and is currently studying choral conducting at the Masters level with Dr. Jamie Hillman.
Michael has acted as a Choral Scholar in the Near North Voices choir under the direction of Dr. Adam Adler (Nipissing University). He also studied conducting and vocal pedagogy with Dr. Adler, and was the assistant conductor for the 2018 season. This experience was extremely influential in his current love and passion for the choral arts. Michael is currently the assistant conductor of U of T’s MacMillan Singers, and VIVA Singers Toronto’s Every Voice Matters Chorus. He also acted as Exultate Chamber Singers first ever Apprentice Conductor under the guidance of Artistic Director Dr. Mark Ramsay, and will be acting as Toronto Children's Chorus apprentice conductor in early 2023.
Victoria is a singer and music educator with an Honours degree in Vocal Performance from Humber College. Victoria is passionate about fostering musicality, creativity and personal growth through singing. She has a strong background in management and administration that she is happy to combine with her love for singing and choral music.