In June, 2003, Jackie Hawley resigned from her previous choir and intended to take a year off after having conducted choirs for nearly 20 years. In August 2003, composer James Wright contacted Jackie looking for a choir to sing his piece If I Were the Moon (text by Canadian author Sheree Fitch who was keynote speaker) at the Writers Festival. Jackie told Dr. Wright that she did not have a choir at the time so he suggested they each call some choristers that they knew and have them get together for a couple of rehearsals to sing this piece and two pieces from Dr. Wright’s Gallery of Song. They ended up with a group of 21 choristers who were excited to be part of this event.
They had a successful rehearsal and a very successful performance! Much to Jackie’s surprise, when she arrived home later that day, there was an invitation on her answering machine from the Ottawa Citizen for the group to sing at their Raise a Reader breakfast at 6:00am in the morning at City Hall. She put this request out to the group and once again, these choristers enthusiastically accepted this invitation! Directly after this came an invitation for the group to sing at the Congress Centre for the National Volunteer Awards. It was at this point that a decision had to be made as to whether Jackie would take her year off or whether this choir was “meant to be”. It was impossible to resist the enthusiasm of the choristers, the invitations from the community and the requests from the parents and thus, Cantiamo was born!