The Aeolian Singers – Our 43rd Season
Now in its 43rd season, the Aeolian Singers began under the direction of founder Claire Wall as a program of Dartmouth Continuing Education. From 1976 to 1990 the choir performed under Claire’s leadership, competing and winning in music festivals, making recordings, performing with Symphony Nova Scotia and touring throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and many parts of Canada. From the beginning, the Aeolians were enthusiastic champions of new music for women’s voices, including commissions in those years supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the CBC like Dennis Farrell’s Vestigia and Alasdair MacLean’s Songs and Sayings, among other pieces.
Over time the choir became a provincially registered non-profit society and in 1990 Jacqueline Chambers became the choir’s second Artistic Director, a position she held for 20 years. During her tenure, the choir made two recordings, collaborated with many Nova Scotian and Canadian women artists, and developed themed concerts for International Women’s Day under the Celebrating Women title. These partnerships broke new ground for women’s choirs, with programs featuring modern dance, flamenco, poetry and theatre. The Aeolians continued to commission new works for women’s voices from a who’s who of Canadian arrangers, songwriters and composers, including Stephen Hatfield, Scott Macmillan, Donna Rhodenizer, Lydia Adams, Susan Crowe, Connie Kaldor, Jennifer Wyatt, the late Raylene Rankin, Christopher Palmer and others.
In 2011 Janet Gaskin became our third Artistic Director. A former choir member and guest conductor, Janet brought a wealth of choral experience and musical knowledge to the Aeolians, creating innovative programs with choral colleagues Malcolm Bradley/Dartmouth Choral Society, Jacqueline Chambers/Creative Voices of Truro, and Moncton’s Carolyn Keirstead/Riversong, Coastal Voices (of which Janet is also the Artistic Director) and Bryan Crocker/Nova Voce. The Aeolians produced an original show, Babes on Broadway, written and conceived by Eleanor Hall, and collaborated with artists such as Laura Smith, Shimon Walt and Lydia Hanson.
Joanne Slack is the Assistant Conductor of the Aeolian Singers, and led the choir in the fall of the 2016-17 season; music educator and conductor Frances Farrell led the choir in the winter/spring term.
Heather Fraser becomes our fourth Artistic Director commencing in the 2017-18 season. Increasingly noted as “one to watch” in Canada’s choral community, Heather is currently Artistic Director of the award-winning Annapolis Valley Honour Choirs (regional auditioned choirs for Grades 5-12) and the Program Director of the Nova Scotia Choral Federation. She received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Acadia University and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University in Music and Creative Arts. Heather has also participated in advanced conducting courses with the British Kodaly Academy, the Westminster Choir College Summer Conducting Institute and privately. An Apprentice Conductor of the National Youth Choir of Canada in 2010, she has worked as a collaborative pianist and was a member of the National Youth Choir of Canada. She has conducted Halifax’s All City Music Soundtrax choir and led the Halifax Youth Honour Choir as well as working as a clinician and presenters for the Perform! Artist in Residence Program throughout Nova Scotia. She undertook a self-directed intensive study period with top choral conductors in the US and Canada in 2016-17.
Our Accompanist is Halifax pianist Diana Torbert.