Carol Woodward Ratzlaff
Carol Woodward Ratzlaff, Artistic Director and Founder of VIVA Singers Toronto, Main Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus Co-Conductor, EVM Conductor, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Singers Co-Conductor, will be celebrating her twenty-second year in this role in the 2021-2022 season.
As per Carol’s vision, at the heart of VIVA is the Every Voice Matters Chorus, which welcomes teens and young adults with disabilities. An all-abilities, inclusive approach to choral music education is central to the identity of the organization and to each of VIVA’s seven choirs. 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. 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 recent 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, and has been engaged as a guest artist with the Pax Christi Chorale, the Toronto Chamber Choir, and the Toronto Consort. She currently sings with Soundstreams’ Choir 21.
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 Orpheus Choir, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, L’Arche Toronto Sol Express, and the Elmer Iseler Singers. In 2006, she was a candidate finalist for the Leslie Bell Prize in Choral Conducting.
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 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/Accompanist, Community Choir Co-Conductor and Chamber Singers Co-Conductor
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.
Main Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus Co-Conductor
Laura is currently the Co-Conductor of the Main Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus; and is also the Soprano Lead of the Chamber Singers. She has held many roles during her twenty-plus years with VIVA, having been one of the original Main Chorus singers and the first Prep Chorus Teaching Assistant. Some of these roles are ongoing, including Camp Coordinator 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 where she holds a University of Toronto Fellowship; and is the producer of “The Ethics of Songs” series with the Centre for Ethics. 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’s research interests center on intersections between student agency, space and sound; and equitable and inclusive music education practices.
Laura is also a secondary school teacher with the Toronto District School Board at Humberside C.I., where she has taught Vocal, Strings, Classics, English, and Band. Since 2017, Laura has 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 component.
As a performer, Laura relishes opportunities to sing with fellow choral enthusiasts in a variety of settings, including with the VIVA Chamber Singers, the Trinity-St. Paul’s Church Choir, and ukulele jams with friends.
Junior Chorus 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.
Preparatory Chorus Conductor
Edmee is delighted to be entering her second season with VIVA as the Conductor of the Preparatory Chorus. A strong believer in music’s ability to build community, creativity, and connection, Edmee teaches Junior 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 and the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award. She loves to explore the ways in which music can nurture relationships, create change, and speak to our sense of wonder.
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.
Charlotte is known both as a performer and advocate for the arts. Her passion for music began when she joined the Junior Amabile Youth Singers at the age of eight, and has been energized by youth music programs and choral communities ever since. She holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Opera Diploma Program.
Charlotte was a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s prestigious young artist program, the Ensemble Studio from 2013-2015. She has performed with companies such as Pacific Opera Victoria, Saskatoon Opera, Vancouver Opera in Schools, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Orchestra London and Jeunesses Musicales Canada.
Having performed in numerous school tours, Charlotte engaged with students from Kindergarten to grade 12, making opera more accessible to diverse communities in Ontario and British Columbia. She believes in the importance of music education and has experienced the powerful effects music has on communities.
For several years, Charlotte gained experience as an Administrator in the Toronto film industry, where her work has been primarily with young people. She is now enjoying her new role as the General Manager of the VIVA Singers Toronto.