Our Story

A lifelong passion for music: This is the source of inspiration, and the founding vision for the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa.  At Cantiamo we understand the natural desire of human expression through singing, and especially the joy and benefits experienced through the simple act of singing together.   We want to instill a lifelong passion for music by creating an environment that nurtures musical and artistic development of young voices, that is welcoming and engaging, and a place where through the study of beautiful music and performance, young people also develop integrity, empathy and self-confidence.

Jackie Hawley

The story begins in the year 2003 when Founding Artistic Director, Jackie Hawley, started a choir that would be “just for girls”.  A choir that would be welcoming and caring, that fostered growth and independence, all while learning and singing exceptional choral music together.   The Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa was formed and soon it became known for its beautiful sound, diverse and challenging repertoire, and fresh, captivating performances.

Today, Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa features four choirs, with up to 100 choristers participating in our choral program and performances.   We are the Cantiamo Girls Choir for girls aged 13 to 19;  Cantiamo Girls Apprentice Choir for girls aged 10 to 13;  Cantiamo Training Choir for girls and boys aged 8 to 11; and the Cantiamo Primary Choir for girls and boys aged 5 to 7.   The Artistic and Choral Education team is led by Jackie Hawley and has grown to include Leslie Bricker and Kathy Goodsell as fellow choir conductors, with accompanists Theresa Van den Boogaard and Dian Wilke.  

True to its roots, Cantiamo provides an enriched and experiential program that builds vocal and choral technique, musical literacy, and performance skills.  Repertoire is chosen with great care and consideration, with representation of a variety of musical styles, historical periods, languages and cultures. There is a strong focus on Canadian compositions and each year Cantiamo will commission at least one piece from a Canadian composer – at times our choristers are provided the opportunity to work directly with the composer, and then premiere the piece in concert.  Cantiamo has premiered over 35 Canadian choral compositions!

Aside from its seasonal concert series, the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa collaborate regularly with other arts groups, and have had the opportunity to perform alongside a wide variety of accomplished performers including the:

Cantiamo has participated in a number of festivals locally and nationally and was a feature choir at the Podium conference in Ottawa in 2012.

Cantiamo is dedicated to educational engagement and to supporting singing in our schools.  We are active participants with the Coalition for Music Education and annually prepare workshops for teachers, and provide mentoring of school choirs. Cantiamo is the core support choir for the OCDSB Annual Choralfest and the National Arts Centre’s 500 voice Music Monday event. Cantiamo is proud to provide choral education mentoring for the Nipiit Katittut – Voices United (NKVU) exchange between Ottawa and Iqaluit as well as the Listen Up! Arts education project with the renowned Gryphon Trio.   

Within Cantiamo our choristers are actively engaged in personal development skills through workshops and hands on experiential learning.   Our Chorister-Mentor Model engages our senior girls as leaders and coaches for younger or less experienced singers. Mentors provide orientation and hands-on help during rehearsals and performances, and model integrity, empathy, and compassion.  Cantiamo Mentors lead, encourage, and gently show the way.

Important to Cantiamo is our engagement with our community. We are proud to be guest performers at local non-profit events that support families in our region, and to participate in Remembrance Day observances and community Christmas events at a variety of venues.

Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa would not be what and where it is today without our generous and dedicated families, friends and volunteers.  We are so fortunate to have a community that supports and embraces the vision of Cantiamo. To the choristers, the talented musicians and choral leaders, and friends of the choir – all those that bring Cantiamo together, thank you.  

Yours in Song.