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A flagship program of the Alberta Choral Federation, Choralfest is Alberta's non-competitive festival for choirs. We're pleased to contiue the pod performance format for Choralfest North and South -- visit the What's New in 2016 page for details.

Choralfest welcomes the participation of choirs of all ages and levels of experience. Primary emphasis is placed on the continued encouragement, education and development of the individual choir.

March 9-11 • Mount Royal University, Leacock Theatre
Evaluator • Heather Bambrick

March 11-14 • McDougall United Church
Evaluators • Heather Fraser, Benila Ninan, Kevin Zakresky

March 14-18 • Knox United Church
Evaluators Dennis Coleman, Morna Edmundson, Scott Leithead



March 9-11 • Mount Royal University, Leacock Theatre


Heather Bambrick has been wearing many hats for many years - and all of them fit her well! She’s an award-winning vocalist, voice actor, broadcaster, and educator, working with some of the best in the business.

Heather has performed internationally collaborating with artists such as Phil Nimmons, Fred Hirsch, Gene DiNovi, Guido Basso, Lea Delaria, Anne Hampton Callaway, Carol Welsman, Jackie Richardson, Ian Shaw, as well as the late Rob McConnell and Peter Appleyard. She is a founding member of the Beehive Singers (1994 - 2001) and Broadsway, a Jazz / Cabaret ensemble with whom
she is currently actively recording and touring.

Heather’s solo recordings include It’s About Time and Those Were The Days, both of which were nominated for ECMA honours and resulted in international airplay and critical acclaim. Heather was a featured guest artist on a number of diverse projects, from the Caliban Bassoon Quartet, to Sophisticated Ladies (the final recording of Jazz great Peter Appleyard), and Just Passing Through (the award-winning recording from Jeff and Don Breithaupt). Heather’s next solo project is slated for release in the fall of 2016. She has been honoured with Canada’s National Jazz Award for Vocalist of the Year.

As an actor, Heather has voiced characters on several animation series for Disney, PBS, Comedy Network, and NBCKids, and is currently a series regular on Emmy-nominated shows Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Justin Time. She has been the voice of a number of national commercial campaigns and remains one of Canada’s most engaging – and engaged – female voices.

Since 2001, Heather has firmly entrenched herself in the world of broadcasting at Canada’s only all Jazz radio station, JAZZ.FM91. She is currently the host of “Jazzology” and “Sunday Afternoon Jazz”, and has twice been awarded National Jazz Awards’ Broadcaster of the Year. Heather is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Jazz Studies program, and has taught at U of T, Humber College, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. She remains active as a clinician and vocal coach at schools and music festivals across Canada.

March 11-14 • McDougall United Church
Evaluators • Heather Fraser, Benila Ninan, Kevin Zakresky


Heather Fraser is a dynamic and energetic choral music educator hailing from Nova Scotia. She is Artistic Director of the Annapolis Valley Honour Choirs and incoming Artistic Director of the Aeolian Singers (Halifax). Other engagements have included the Halifax Regional School Board All City Music Honour Choirs, resident conductor of the Nova Scotia Youth Choir, and the Thomas’s Preparatory School Choirs and Choral Society (London, UK). She has also prepared choirs for Symphony Nova Scotia, including a recording project with the CBC. 

As a clinician, Heather has presented for the Nova Scotia Music Educator’s Association, the Nova Scotia Choral Federation and has adjudicated for the New Brunswick Competitive Music Festival and the Atlantic Music Festival. She is active with the “Perform NS! Artists in Residence Program,” conducting workshops across Nova Scotia on choral methods for both students and teachers, and is developing the “Singing Schools” program for Junior High schools without choral opportunities.

Believing strongly in the power of choral music to create and build community, Heather is privileged to serve as Program Director for the Nova Scotia Choral Federation, developing and coordinating programs to meet the diverse needs of Nova Scotia singers. She also sits on the Advocacy and National Youth Choir Committees for Choral Canada.

Heather got her start in conducting while in Montreal, as apprentice for Iwan Edwards and Concerto Della Donna. She was Apprentice Conductor of the 2010 National Youth Choir of Canada under Victoria Meredith, has studied at the Westminster Choir College Summer Institute with Charles Bruffy, and last fall was the Conducting Fellow with Julia Davids and the Canadian Chamber Choir.  Most recently she was honoured to be a part of the Emerging Conductor program of Pro Coro Canada with Michael Zaugg.


Ms. Benila Ninan is a music teacher, conductor, and clinician living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, where she pursued her studies. Along with her degrees in Music (Voice Performance) and Education at the University of Alberta, Ms. Ninan also studied at the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary, where she specialized in Music Pedagogy.

Ms. Ninan has worked as a school music teacher and clinician in both British Columbia and Alberta. She has taught all age levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12, including General Music at the elementary level, Grades 6 to 12 Choir, Jazz Choir, and provided musical direction for Musical Theatre. She has inspired many students to develop a passion for choral music; her approach to teaching encourages students to discover their individual voices while singing in different styles and genres. Ms. Ninan was a vital member of the performing arts team at Edmonton's Victoria School of Performing Arts. She has also taught at Collingwood School in West Vancouver, and currently teaches at The Westside School in Vancouver.

Ms. Ninan's experience as a choral singer and soloist is vast and accomplished. She has sung with Canada's professional choirs including Pro Coro Canada (Edmonton), musica intima (Vancouver), and Luminous Voices (Calgary). Ms. Ninan was selected as a singer to represent Canada by the International Federation for Choral Music to participate in five tours with the World Youth Choir, where she had the opportunity to sing under the direction of master conductors and teachers such as Frieder Bernius, Steve Zegree, Peter Erdei and more. In 2008 and 2009 she was invited back to be a section leader for the choir. Highlights from these tours include performing for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Equestrian Events in China and Europa Cantat in the Netherlands.

Ms. Ninan draws on her passion for education, her choral experiences from around the globe, and her strong musicianship skills in her approach to sharing the art of choral music with her students.


Kevin Zakresky is founder-director of the Sea to Sky Symphony and the conductor of
the Pacifica Singers in Vancouver. Kevin is Associate Conductor of Zelda: Symphony of
the Goddesses, a production that has seen him directing orchestras in Charlottesville,
Columbus, Miami and London (with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in
Wembley Arena). Future dates of Zelda include Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Zakresky is the past Music Director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and has
recently conducted the St Louis Symphony, Sudbury Symphony, West Coast
Symphony, Vancouver Chamber Choir and two concerts with Sea to Sky. He completed
his Doctorate at Yale University in 2012.

Zakresky made his CBC broadcast debut conducting Monteverdi with the Vancouver
Chamber Choir and the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra in 2014. During his time with the
Prince George Symphony, he worked with many soloists including Jane Coop, Dale
Barltrop, Nadina Mackie Jackson and Lucas Wong. He has been a faculty member of
the Vancouver International Song Institute, directed choirs at Douglas College and has
taught conducting at the School for Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University. He
currently teaches at the Vancouver Symphony School of Music.




March 14-18 • Knox United Church
Evaluators Dennis Coleman, Morna Edmundson, Scott Leithead

Dennis Coleman has led Seattle Men’s Chorus (since 1981) and Seattle Women’s Chorus (since 2003) to a position of artistic and administrative excellence with a combined singing membership that exceeds that of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He retired from that position in August, 2016.

Dennis is active as a clinician and guest conductor throughout the U.S. and Canada. He served for six years on the national Board of Directors for Chorus America and was on the founding Board of Directors of GALA Choruses. As a United Church of Christ church musician, Dennis has conducted the choir of First Congregational Church of Bellevue since 1981.

Dennis Coleman has commissioned and premiered choral works from many leading composers including, among others, Jake Heggie, Gian Carlo Menotti, Stephen Hatfield, Ned Rorem, Robert Moran, Conrad Susa, and David Diamond.







Morna Edmundson is one of Canada’s best-known choral conductors with a strong reputation for excellence. Passionate since childhood about choral singing, she obtained degrees and diplomas in vocal music in Vancouver, Bellingham, and Stockholm, Sweden where her teachers included Eric Ericson. In 1987, she co-founded Elektra Women’s Choir with Diane Loomer, a treasured partnership that lasted 22 years. In 2009, Morna became Elektra’s sole Artistic Director, continuing the choir’s strong leadership role in concert presentation, commissioning, recording, and mentorship. For 14 years Morna shared her love of quality repertoire with a new generation of singers in her role as Associate Artistic Director of Coastal Sound Music Academy, where she was Music Director of the mixed-voice Youth Chamber Choir. Morna has adjudicated in North America and Asia, conducted honour choirs in several states, co-directed the American Choral Directors Association National Women’s Honour Choir, and gives frequent workshops with choirs of all ages. In 2000 she was presented with the Healey Willan Award for outstanding service to the BC Choral Federation, an organization she serves as a member of the President’s Advisory Council. In February 2009 Morna was a recipient of the BC Community Achievement Award, which recognized her gifted organizational talent, leadership by example, and her encouragement of others to pursue their musical and choral goals. In June 2011 Morna received a Vancouver YWCA Woman of Distinction award in recognition of her work with Elektra. Since June 2013, she has served on the Board of Directors of Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that gives voice to the choral field.





Scott Leithead is the founder and Artistic Director of Canada's Kokopelli Choir Association and TIME Association from Edmonton, Alberta. He has been invited to conduct provincial and state honour choirs on twenty-one occasions and he has presented workshops in North America and beyond. Notable appearances include: conducting the Alberta Youth Choir for the Alberta Choral Federation’s 40th Anniversary; conducting the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Ellison Canadian Honour Choir; conducting the 2016 ACDA NW Regional Youth Choir in Seattle.  He has adjudicated both the ACCC National Competition for Amateur Canadian Choirs and the Kathaumixw International Choir Festival (2014 and 2016). Under his direction, Kokopelli was the winner of both the 2015 CBC National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs and both the 2015 and 2016 Canadian National Music Competition.

Scott has a passion for music from southern Africa and he has been invited to work with choirs in South Africa and Namibia on numerous occasions. In 2008/09, Scott was on sabbatical in Namibia where he worked with the Mascato Youth Choir and many other choirs in southern Africa. Scott’s passion for innovative and unique choral music experiences has shaped the direction of the Kokopelli Choir Association.

Scott is a longtime member of the advisory committee for the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival. He is also president of the BrailleTone Music Society (for persons with disabilities) and three additional national boards in Canada, as well as the National Youth Music and Art Development Foundation of South Africa.

In 2016/17 he will present clinics and workshops across Canada and return to conduct numerous honour choirs including the 2017 Ellison Canadian Honour Choir.  He will be the guest clinician at the University of Toronto Summer Conducting Symposium in July 2017.  He will also be adjudicating at the prestigious Tampere Choral Festival in Finland next June.