Blog Post

Cantiamo Women’s Choir – Our Choral Sanctuary

“Sanctuary – a place of refuge and safety.”

What a challenging time we are all living in right now! There are terrible things going on all over the world and life feels heavy at times. We all need a sanctuary, a place of refuge and safety. A place to go and feel peace, calm, beauty, and love. For those of us in the Cantiamo Women’s Choir, our weekly rehearsal is that place. Our Choral Sanctuary.

Last year, in answer to multiple requests from our community, the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa added a fifth level to our organization – the Cantiamo Women’s Choir (CWC).

Since our organization is now into its 20th year, many of our alumni who graduated and went off to university have returned to Ottawa and are now young women making their mark in the world in new careers. As we say in CCO, “Once a Cantiamo girl, always a Cantiamo girl!” Our “Cantiamo girls” still want to have choral singing in their lives and we are thrilled that the CWC has answered that desire!  

In October, 2021 we had our first rehearsal with 23 experienced, musically literate singers. The CWC requires that all choristers have some experience and can read music.

Some choristers had not been using their singing voices for several years and of course, the pandemic also interfered with everyone’s choral singing so we all were compassionate with ourselves and each other as we found our way back to our singing voices. We had a very satisfying season and though our intended Christmas concert was shut down the day before the performance due to Omicron, we were able to end our season with a successful in-person concert in May.

Our pilot year proved that our community did indeed want to have a Cantiamo Women’s Choir! We have continued it this year and grown to 34 experienced members! Given that Covid is still around, we arrive each week to fully enjoy the experience that those two hours offers. We have learned that things can change overnight so we make sure to fully immerse ourselves in making beautiful music together and appreciating that in the moment.

Every week there are comments such as, “No matter what is happening in my life, I always feel better after choir.” “I really look forward to Wednesdays every week.” “I love all this music! It feels so good to sing it together!” “This is such a welcoming, caring community!” “Our sound is so beautiful it gives me goose bumps!” “That piece made me tear up!”

As the conductor, it is my honour and pleasure to lead the rehearsals each week along with our stellar new accompanist, Tahlia. It is a luxury to have musicians who are experienced and who come to rehearsal prepared and anxious to enthusiastically collaborate to create beauty. Together in the safety of our refuge, we all open ourselves to the music and are rejuvenated by the positive power of beauty and community.

The Cantiamo Women’s Choir is indeed a Choral Sanctuary where each Wednesday we can gather, sing together, lighten our hearts, and be reminded that the world is still a beautiful place!

With gratitude,


Jackie Hawley

Founding Artistic Director: Cantiamo Choir of OttawaConductor – Cantiamo Women’s Choir