Presidents' Leadership Award
Established in 2001 to commemorate Choirs Ontario’s 30th anniversary, this award recognizes individuals who, through their support or engagement in choral music-making, have made an exceptional contribution to the promotion and advancement of choral music in their communities.
The Award is presented annually and alternates between those who support choral music –executive directors, administrators, volunteers, corporate sponsors, philanthropists, and those who are directly involved in the performance of choral music – singers, conductors, and accompanists. Candidates must have demonstrated an exceptional leadership role, vision and cultural activism and must be nominated by a Choirs Ontario member choir or individual member.
Jean Ashworth Bartle 2012 President’s Leadership Award Recipient
by Hillary Apfelstadt
The name Jean Ashworth Bartle is synonymous with excellence in children’s choirs, and is thus well known not only here in Canada but elsewhere, indeed world wide. As a Canadian working in the U.S. for many years, I was a proud advocateof all things Canadian there and reveled in the successful reputation of the Toronto Children’s Chorus as they sang at national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) to enthusiastic audiences. As a conductor of women’s choruses and frequentclinician, I often turned to publications in the Toronto Children’s Chorus series, edited by Ms. Bartle, as they represented the highest standards of choral music for treble voices. Publications by Ruth Watson Henderson, for example, were challenging and delightful for singers of high school age and above. Knowing that these compositions had been reviewed and approved by Jean for her series assured me that they would be of high caliber.
In 2005, I was charged with the task of planning the 2007 national conference of ACDA in Miami, Florida. As conference chair, I had the privilege of recommending guest conductors and one of my first choices was Jean Ashworth Bartle as conductor of the national children’s honor choir. It happened that the concert date fell on her birthday but she cheerfully told me it would be a wonderful way to celebrate. As partof her role at the conference, she was invited to do an interest session about music literacy with members of the TCC touring choir. Jean had developed a stellar reputation as a choral pedagogue whose priorities included teaching children to read music well and developing their aural skills as part of her quest for music literacy. In the interest session, she had the TCC children sight-read something new for the audience and demonstrated the process they used for tackling unfamiliar music. It was truly masterful teaching on her part and a tribute to the process she used over the years to develop fine musicianship in the singers.
While auditioning incoming singers for choral ensembles at the University of Toronto, I have heard many former TCC members pay tribute to their education in the choir, saying how it developed their reading skills and love of choral singing. When I see “TCC” listed under choral experience on the audition forms, I know those singers will read well. What a gift they received from “Mrs. Bartle!”
Recently, Jean and I communicated via email about the TCC process and I asked her what she would like to see included in this brief article. She said this: “perhaps something about the importance of our priorities as children’s choir directors, first and foremost to inspire a life-long love of singing/ and to become intelligent, literate singers who can sight-read with ease. At the end of the day we aren’t doing much good if our choirs sing ‘letter perfect’ performances if the singers have been drilled to death and they don’t sight-read any better at the conclusion of the performance as they did when rehearsals began.”
This captures her philosophy, that of life-long learning in choral music. That is an admirable model for the profession.
And model she did: it is not exaggeration to say that Jean set the tone for the children’s choir movement in Canada and that we boast some of the best ensembles of this kind in the world. She demonstrated that children’s choirs are instruments of the highest artistic excellence as the TCC represented Canada nationally and internationally. Not only did hundreds of singers benefit but the many conductors who came to Toronto to study with her in seminars, as well as those observing her work around the world, all gained immeasurably from their exposure to the TCC and to their gifted conductor. That the group continues to excel under Jean’s successor is a source of pride to her: “I am thrilled that five years after I retired the TCC continues to flourish under Elise Bradley’s artistic leadership. These things don’t always go as one had planned but in our case it has worked brilliantly.”
It was delightful to see that at the TCC’s Podium performance in Ottawa last May, Jean was among the first on her feet to applaud the children. Her gracious acceptance of the group’s current performances and her continuing support for the choir’s development is a wonderful model. She is an exemplary recipient of the 2012 President’s Leadership Award. Congratulations, Jean!
Candidates must be nominated by a Choirs Ontario member choir or individual member. Each nomination must consist of a completed application form supported by three letters of recommendation and a written submission of not more than three pages outlining the candidate’s contribution to the choral art. Complete the attached application form and send it along with supporting documentation to: President’s Leadership Award, Choirs Ontario, A-1422 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4G 3A7.
The Award is juried by a three person panel of Choirs Ontario past presidents who are appointed by the Choirs Ontario Board of Directors.
Nominees must be residents of Ontario who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and advanced the role of choral music in their community for a minimum of five years.
The recipient receives a framed certificate and a Choirs Ontario honorary lifetime membership at a recognition ceremony to be held at the Ontario Youth Choir concert in Toronto, August 25, 2013
Download The 2013 President's Leadership Award application. Applications must be received by June 21, 2013. For more information please call 416-923-1144 or 866-935-1144