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THE SCOOP | Elaine Choi Awarded The 2023 Leslie Bell Prize For Choral Conducting

By Anya Wassenberg on December 7, 2023

Elaine Choi (Photo: Emily Ding Photography)
Elaine Choi (Photo: Emily Ding Photography)

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has announced that Dr. Elaine Choi is the recipient of the 2023 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting. Elaine will receive the award on Saturday as she conducts a concert by Pax Christi Chorale.

The award is given every two years, and recognizes an emerging professional conductor who is a resident of Ontario, and works with a professional or semi-professional community choir. Along with the recognition, it comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

The scholarship fund was established in 1973 by the Leslie Bell Singers, and friends of the late Dr. Leslie Bell, and is administered by the Ontario Arts Council. This year’s jury was: Adam Adler (Callander), Charissa Bagan (Toronto) and Jamie Loback (Ottawa).

Dr. Elaine Choi

Dr. Choi is the artistic director of Toronto’s Pax Christi Chorale, along with her duties as director of music at the Timothy Eaton Memorial Church. She is also founder and artistic director of Babel, a group with a mandate to link cultures by way of choral music.

Dr. Elaine Choi conducts Pax Christi Chorale in Jake Runestad’s A Silence Haunts Me with Joshua Tamayo, pianist at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto in May 2023:

Choi earned a Doctor in Musical Arts and Master in Music Performance (Choral Conducting) from the University of Toronto. Elaine has long roots in Toronto’s choral community and well beyond, including:

  • Conductor of the University of Toronto Soprano-Alto Chorus (formerly Women’s Chorus) from 2015 to 2023;
  • An adjudicator and clinician for a range community events, including the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, the Ontario Music Festivals Association (OMFA) provincial festival, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Singsation Saturdays;
  • Past President of Choirs Ontario;
  • Guest clinician of the Bangkok International Choral Festival in Thailand in 2022.

She will be the guest clinician of the 2024 Windsor Choral Festival.

Elaine was conductor of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra from 2010 until 2017, as part of an ongoing advocacy for Chinese orchestral and choral music.

Awards and honours include…

  • Recipient of the Elmer Iseler Fellowship in Choral Conducting in 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2015;
  • A finalist in the Sir Ernest MacMillan Foundation Fellowship Award in Choral Conducting in 2012;
  • Recipient of the prestigious William and Waters graduating award in 2018.

What the jury said…

“Elaine’s commitment to intercultural repertoire and commissioning of new composers is groundbreaking. She founded an innovative new choir, Babεl, whose mandate reflects our current time and place. Thoughtful work such as this will help to ensure the growth of the choral community.”

Congratulations to Dr. Choi.

  • Christmas Through the Ages, with Pax Christi Chorale and the Hogtown Brass, Dr. Elaine Choi conducting, takes place December 9. More information and tickets available [HERE].

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