ABOUT US

LEROY WIENS ~
CONDUCTOR AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Leroy Wiens is the founding conductor of the Okanagan Festival Singers. Leroy has earned several degrees including a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg, B.Ed. and B.Mus. degrees from the University of British Columbia, and an M.Mus. from the University of Oregon. He has studied with noted Canadian conductors William Baerg and James Fankhauser, with Wayne Riddel at the Elora Festival, and with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival. The founding conductor of the Kelowna Community Chorus, Leroy retired from this position in 2014.

Leroy has guest conducted for the Okanagan International Festival of the Arts, Viva Musica, Kelowna Mozart Festival and the BC Choral Society. He has also held the position of Assistant Conductor with the Vancouver Cantata Singers. In 2010 he was the recipient of the Arts Educator award from the Central Okanagan Arts Foundation for excellence in arts education.

Leroy’s conducting repertoire includes a full range of experiences, from large choral/orchestral works to a cappella standards including folk songs and jazz. Leroy has an exceptional talent to motivate and inspire his singers. He has recently retired from the Central Okanagan School District as a music specialist. Leroy and his family reside in Kelowna.

URSULA PIDGEON ~
ACCOMPANIST

Ursula Pidgeon received her Bachelor of Music degree from Queen’s University, majoring in piano performance and oboe. As a scholarship recipient at the Banff Centre, she studied Piano Literature and Pedagogy with Dr. Robin Wood. Ursula and her family moved from Ottawa to West Kelowna in 2010.

Ursula thoroughly enjoys participating in the rich musical life here in the Okanagan! Ursula teaches students of all ages and all levels. Her contagious enthusiasm encourages students to do their best, whether preparing for music festivals, exams, or just playing for their own personal growth. She also keeps busy accompanying students for exams and Kiwanis Festival. In addition to accompanying OFS, she is accompanist for the Kelowna Community Chorus and the Kelowna Community Music School Youth Choir.

Our History

The OFS was founded by Leroy Wiens in the spring of 1986 for a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto. This was such a wonderful experience that the choir decided to continue and has been making inspired music ever since. Our dedicated, auditioned members attend weekly rehearsals from as far south as Penticton and north to Vernon, and all points in between.

The OFS repertoire includes large classical works, such as Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and Haydn’s Creation, to name but a few. The choir also performs many a cappella pieces, music by Canadian composers, and musical works from the 14th to the 21st Centuries. Special concerts for children include a Children’s Messiah complete with puppets and opportunities to sing along, and Handel’s The King Shall Rejoice complete with coronation!

For the past several years, the OFS has participated in regional choral festivals and community events. OFS has shared the stage with other choirs, such as the Amabilis Singers from Vancouver, the Yume Women’s Choir from Japan, and Serious Options of Kamloops. In June 2017 they hosted the internationally celebrated Elektra women’s choir from Vancouver.

In 2003, the OFS released its first CD, Sacred Classics, a recording of traditional hymns and sacred music. The second CD recorded by OFS is titled An Okanagan Christmas and includes studio recordings of all the choral music from our 2005 Christmas concert. Their third CD, A World of Christmas, was recorded live in 2008 with Ed Henderson and his Worldfest Band. These CDs make wonderful gifts and can be purchased through the choir, this web site and at our concerts throughout the year.

The 2017-2018 season is the 33rd anniversary of OFS. We look forward to seeing you at our Christmas concert on December 2nd!

Our Mission

The Okanagan Festival Singers’ Mission is to provide opportunities in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley for the performance, appreciation and enjoyment of choral music. We will promote, organize and encourage choral music through performance of choral works and in the presentation of choral concerts, bringing the experience of great choral music to the Okanagan.

Under the direction and guidance of Leroy Wiens, the OFS has developed into one of the foremost choral ensembles in the BC Interior. They have created their own unique place in the hearts of Okanagan audiences with their baroque performances of Handel’s Messiah.

Board of Directors

  • Executive Director: Mike Budd
  • Choir Manager: Avril DeJong
  • Secretary: Carole Courtney
  • Treasurer: Carol Schultz
  • Librarian: Suzen Allen
  • Publicity: Linda Hawker & Amy Habicht
  • Member-at-Large: Linda Hawker

Spring Concert
April 29th, 2018

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Handel – Bach – Mozart