Ensemble Director: Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff
Auditions: Auditions for the Madrigal Singers typically take place in the first week of classes in the Fall term. See Ensemble Auditions to learn more.
Comprising 30 to 40 auditioned singers from across campus under the direction of Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers have emerged in the past three decades as one of the foremost university chamber choirs in Canada.
Frequent first-prize winners in the CBC's Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs, the Madrigal Singers have also had several successes at major international competitions in Germany, including first prize at the Robert Schumann International Choral Competition in Zwickau (1995), third prize in the 5th International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf (1997), first prize in the International Choir Competition in Cork, Ireland (1999), and the International Jury Award at this same competition in 2008.
The UAlberta Madrigal Singers have been quite active on the recording front:
- Musicians Wrestle Everywhere (Arktos 97016): the initial release of the Madrigal Singers includes a range of choral music from the 19th and 20th centuries, and features the premiere recording of Canadian composer Leonard Enns' award-winning motet Most Glorious Lord of Lyfe and American composer Morten Lauridsen's Six Fire Songs on Italian Renaissance Poems.
- Balulalow: Anthems, Carols and Lullabies for Christmas (Arktos 99037): recorded in 1999, this recording features American composer Conrad Susa's Christmas suite for chorus, guitar, harp and marimba, Christmas in the Southwest: Carols and Lullabies, and seasonal music by Bevan, Gawthrop, Kverno, Mendelssohn and Sirett. It was awarded the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors National Choral Award in the recording category in 2000.
- My Soul, There is a Country (Arktos 200149): released in 2001, this CD features the premiere recording of British composer Gavin Bryars' On Photography, as well as choral music by John Tavener and several Canadian composers including Allan Bevan's Three Motets on Poetry by Henry Vaughn and James Rolfe's haunting setting of Walt Whitman's Come, Lovely and Soothing Death.
- The Passing of the Year (Arktos 200477), offers the premiere recording of another British composer Jonathan Dove's cycle for double chorus and piano, The Passing of the Year, featuring pianist Roger Admiral. Also heard on this recording are works for chorus and organ with Dr. Marnie Giesbrecht, professor of organ at University of Alberta. The CD was recorded at Edmonton's Winspear Centre for Music, using the Davis Concert Organ. The Passing of the Year was awarded the ACCC’s National Choral Award in the Recordings category in 2006.
- Hesperides (UAMS 200905), featuring Canadian composer and U of A professor emeritus Malcolm Forsyth’s choral cycle Hesperides with duo harpists Nora Bumanis and Julia Shaw.
Further details and ordering information for all of these recordings are available on the Madrigal Singers website.
The Madrigal Singers have frequently been recorded by the CBC for regional and national broadcast, and have appeared as guests of the Edmonton Symphony, performing Ravel's ballet music Daphnis et Chloé and Handel's Messiah in recent years. In 2005 they appeared with renowned Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
The Madrigal Singers also perform regularly with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble in its annual Christmas concerts. They have participated on four occasions in University Voices, a festival of Canadian university choirs sponsored in Toronto by Soundstreams Canada, performing under the direction of European conductors Robert Sund, Tõnu Kaljuste and Kaspars Putninš. The Madrigal Singers were invited to perform at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles in 2005, and in November 2007 they performed as guests of the Royal Society of Canada’s Installation Ceremony at the Winspear Centre for Music. In 2010 they were featured at Podium 2010, the biennial conference of the Association of Canadian Choral Communities in Saskatoon.
The most recent Madrigal Singers tour occurred over the Christmas vacation last year, when they were invited to participate in a festival in Athens, Greece, together with several other US choirs, under the direction of esteemed British choral conductor Simon Carrington. In addition to singing in the joint performances, the Madrigal Singers presented three concerts on their own in Athens.
2016-2017 Season Highlights
Highlights from the 2016-17 season include the following events:
- On Saturday, September 10, ca. 4:00 pm, Convocation Hall, the Madrigal Singers will participate in a nationally streamed fundraiser, Mysterious Barricades (http://www.mysteriousbarricades.org), in support of the promotion of mental health programs. We will be performing Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, a setting of a beautiful text by Shakespeare from his play The Merchant of Venice.
- On Saturday, September 24, 6:30 pm, Madrigal Singers will present a brief program for the Alumni Association’s Golden Grads Dinner at the Chateau Lacombe Hotel, as part of Homecoming Weekend festivities.
- On Friday, October 28, 8:00 pm (Convocation Hall) we present our Fall Concert, in a program of works by Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms, including Brahms’s compelling Neue Liebeslieder, with guest pianists Patrica Tao and Jacques Despres. Admission free.
- On Sunday, December 4, 3:00 pm, Robertson-Wesley United Church, the Madrigal Singers are once again singing as guests of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble in its annual Christmas Concert (http://albertabaroque.com). The program will feature two ex-Madrigal Singers as soloists: Jolaine Kerley, soprano and Michael Kurschat, baritone, in Bach’s Christmas cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, and the choir will also perform to works by Martini. Tickets available through the Alberta Baroque website.
- Saturday, March 18, 2017 marks a very special occasion for the Madrigal Singers: their 30th Annual Dinner Concert and Auction! This event will be held at the U of A Faculty Club, and will feature both solo and choral performances by members of the Madrigal Singers, as well as an auction in support of our touring and performance projects. Tickets will be available through choir members and through Tix on the Square.
- Sunday, April 7: Madrigal Singers and the U of A Concert Choir will join forces to perform works for chorus, organ and other instruments, including Leonard Bernstein’s beautiful Chichester Psalms. More information to be provided re place and time.
Madrigal Singers Audio