The Vancouver Chamber Choir (= VCC) is Canada's outstanding professional vocal ensemble. Based on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia, conductor Jon Washburn and his twenty singers are noted for their diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The ACDA Choral Journal has declared the VCC to be "as fine a vocal chamber group as any in the world today.", and in June 1998, the VCC and Jon Washburn won the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, recognition of their outstanding contribution to the choral art. In June 2000, Jon Washburn and the VCC were honoured with two awards at the 2000 Chorus America Conference, including the prestigious Louis Botto award, given in recognition of Jon Washburn's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in the development of a professional choral ensemble of exceptional quality.
The VCC impresses audiences with the depth and range of its repertoire and interpretative skills. Their concerts can include music from chant to folksong, traditional to avant-garde, a cappella to orchestra or jazz trio; Jon Washburn is noted for devising innovative and fascinating programmes and unearthing hidden choral treasures. The singers delight in acquiring foreign language skills and have sung in over 30 languages. A leading advocate of Canadian music and composers, the VCC has commissioned and premiered more than 100 new choral works during the last three decaeds.
The VCC has been performing at home and across Canada since its formation in 1971 by conductor Jon Washburn. The ensemble has gained international distinction through tours to the United States, China, Hong Kong, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In 1994, they sang in Korea and Japan, where they were awarded gold medals and the overall Grand Prize in the 11th Takarazuka International Chamber Chorus Competition. During the summer of 1997, the VCC completed a highly successful tour of Germany, France, and the Czech Republic, and in March 1999 they were featured guests at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, performing to an audience of 6,000 of their peers.
In addition to touring and a busy season of concerts, broadcasts and recording in Vancouver, the VCC offers an annual array of educational programmes: the National Conductors' Symposium for advanced choral conductors, Interplay workshops for choral composers, Focus! for college and university music students, Schola for church musicians, On Site for elementary and secondary schools, the biennial Young Composers' Competition, and various on-tour residencies and workshops.
The VCC sings frequently with distinguished artists and ensembles such as The Kingís Singers and Chanticleer, the Stockholm and Moscow Chamber Choirs; conductors Eric Ericson, Frieder Bernius, Tõnu Kaljuste and Andrew Litton; singers Ben Heppner, Maureen Forrester, and Ian Partridge; guitarist Paco Peña, the Canadian Brass, Ancient Cultures, the Turtle Island String Quartet and many others. They can be heard on CBC radio in Canada and on National Public Radio's The First Art in the USA. They have released over 25 recordings and CDís, including several devoted to Canadian composers such as R. Murray Schafer, Imant Raminsh, Stephen Chatman and Jon Washburn.
The VCC's 1995 Healey Willan disc (EMI/Virgin Classics) was nominated for a Juno Award and won an award for Outstanding Choral Recording from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. The most recent releases are Once on a Windy Night (Grouse Records) and Due West (CBC), the latter was released in Fall 2000.