Meet the Choir

Canzona is a choral community of baroque believers. We sing at a high level and take pride in our traditional, professional approach to performance while forging into new baroque territories.

Kathleen Allan, Artistic Director

A native of St. John’s, NL, conductor, composer and soprano Kathleen Allan is rapidly becoming internationally respected for her compelling performances and engaging compositions. She is the Director of Choral Studies and Associate Conductor of Orchestras at the Vancouver Academy of Music and was recently appointed Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional baroque choral ensemble. In 2015, she made her Asian debut conducting Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. She is the recipient of the 2016 Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Prize in Choral Conducting which accompanied her appointment as Conducting Apprentice of the National Youth Choir of Canada. She is the assistant conductor of the Vancouver Bach Choir, and has held conducting positions with St. Michael’s Choir School, the Yale Glee Club, the Vancouver Bach Children’s Chorus, and in 2013, was the Conducting Fellow of the Canadian Chamber Choir. She is the founding co-artistic director of Arkora, a chamber music collective dedicated to interdisciplinary performance.

Her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout North America, Europe, and in Argentina where her work was featured at the World Symposium on Choral Music in 2011. Her “In Paradisum” is the closing track on the Canadian Chamber Choir’s JUNO-nominated recording, “Sacred Reflections of Canada.”

Also in high demand as a soprano soloist and professional choral singer, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra of Canada and Berkshire Choral Festival Choir, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Bach Choir. In addition to freelancing regularly in Canada and the United States, she is a member of the Vancouver Chamber Choir and has sung with the Vienna-based Arnold Schoenberg Chor under conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Skylark Vocal Ensemble in Atlanta, and the Yale Schola Cantorum. A passionate interpreter of new music, she has premiered over two dozen works for the voice. She holds a degree in composition from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University.

Henry Engbrecht, Founding Artistic Director

Henry_photo_May_2013_colorHenry Engbrecht, Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, retired from his position as Director of Choral Studies and Activities in 2006. The University of Manitoba Singers and the University Women’s Choir became leading choral ensembles under his direction and appeared with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra on numerous occasions. A two-pronged motivation created the Canzona ensemble over twenty years ago: the love for Baroque Music and the possibilities for bringing ‘rising star’ soloists to the stage in a professional performance. At the University of Manitoba Professor Engbrecht received Excellence in Teaching as well as D.R. and Mrs. Campbell Outreach Awards. He is founding President of the Manitoba Choral Association and Foundation for Choral Music in Manitoba. Engbrecht has received the Prix Manitoba Award from the Government of Manitoba, and was recognized by the Manitoba Music Educators Association, the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers Association, the Manitoba Choral Association, and the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors for his contributions to choral music. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate LL.D. honoris causa from Providence University College; and a second honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba for distinguished achievement in the arts in 2013.

Elroy Friesen, Former Artistic Director (2014-2015)

Described as “innovative, expressive, and dynamic,” Elroy Friesen is Director of Choral Studies at the University of Manitoba where he conducts numerous choirs, and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and music education. Recently publishing his research on the choral music of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, Elroy continues to pursue his passion of study and performance of new Nordic repertoire – especially new Canadian works. His award-winning ensembles tour nationally and internationally, and are frequently recorded and broadcasted by the CBC. They enjoy collaborating with many outstanding local and national arts organizations, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Canzona, WSO New Music Festival, Soundstreams Canada, Groundswell, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Musik Barock Ensemble, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Center Orchestra and the Latvian Radio Choir.

Dr. Friesen studied at the University of Manitoba (B. Mus., B. Ed., M. Mus.) and at the University of Illinois (DMA) receiving numerous scholarships and grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Foundation for Choral Music in Manitoba. He is the Founder and past Artistic Director of Prairie Voices and has held positions of Artistic Director of the Mennonite Community Orchestra, Director of Choirs at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Urbana, and Director of the University Chorus in Champaign, Illinois. He is in demand as a clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor throughout Canada, the United States, and Northern Europe.