Oriana Women’s Choir began in 1972 as The John Hodgins Singers, an alumna choir of Bishop Strachan School. In 1977, Oriana was incorporated as an Ontario not-for-profit corporation and renamed Oriana Singers under John Ford. When John Ford retired in 1996, William Brown was appointed Artistic Director. In 2004-05, the choir became Oriana Women’s Choir. Mitchell Pady, the current Artistic Director, was appointed in 2011.
Maintaining a Tradition of Performance Excellence
Oriana has a longstanding reputation for excellence in the performance of repertoire for women’s voices. Oriana was awarded first prize in both the International Radio Festival Competition “Let the People Sing” (1985), and in the Adult Equal Voice – Women’s Voices category in the CBC National Radio Competition for Amateur Choirs (1986), was chosen twice to perform at the International Choral Festival, and was selected to perform and serve as a demonstration choir for master conductor workshops at Festival 500 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Oriana’s performance of William Brown’s Quant j’ai ouy le tabourin was awarded Best Performance of a Canadian Work in the 2004 CBC National Radio Competition for Amateur Choirs and the choir’s concert presentation Children’s Voices, Too! was awarded Outstanding Choral Event by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors in 2008.
Oriana has performed recently in Montreal and Newfoundland, and has toured in the past to several cities in Ontario, including Barrie, St. Catharines, and Kingston. Toronto venues have included Roy Thomson Hall, the George Weston Recital Hall, the St. Lawrence Centre, the Distillery District, Grace Church on-the-Hill and our new regular series location, Calvin Presbyterian Church.
Oriana is governed by a Board of Directors and supported by our honorary patrons: Canadian composer Ruth Watson Henderson and Canadian Jazz Singer Heather Bambrick. Oriana operates with the financial assistance from a variety of funding sources, including the Toronto Arts Council, SOCAN, other foundations, corporations, individual donors and choir fund-raising.
The name Oriana is found in the Triumphs of Oriana, a collection of sixteenth-century madrigals. The name was often used to refer to Queen Elizabeth I of England, praising her power, wit and beauty.