For the love of Bach

| April 20, 2014 | 0 Comments
From left, German Ambassador Werner Wnendt, his wife, Eleonore Wnendt-Juber, choir founder Lisette Canton, artistic director, Colleen Woodhouse, and Ian Sabourin at the Ottawa Bach Choir's Venetian Carnival fundraiser. Photo by Sam Garcia

From left, German Ambassador Werner Wnendt, his wife, Eleonore Wnendt-Juber, choir founder Lisette Canton, artistic director, Colleen Woodhouse, and Ian Sabourin at the Ottawa Bach Choir’s Venetian Carnival fundraiser. Photo by Sam Garcia

The Ottawa Bach Choir is an Ottawa institution but it’s just as cherished by German transplants in the city, and it has its fans in other quarters of the diplomatic corps as well.
“The Germans are very supportive of us,” explains Lisette Canton, founder and artistic director of the choir.
“We’re the Ottawa Bach Choir, after all. We’ve gone to Germany many times and this year, we’re going to the Leipzig Festival, which is the biggest Bach festival in the world. We’re the first Canadian choir invited to sing there.”
The choir, founded in 2002 by Dr. Canton, offers audiences a range of choral music from all historical periods while keeping Bach’s choral oeuvre as the focus of its repertoire. In its short history, it has received national and international recognition.
And maybe that’s why the embassies are so keen to support it. Dr. Canton says diplomats from countries and regions as diverse as Germany, France, Britain, South Africa, China and Taiwan have helped out over the years. The diplomats generally provide drinks and food — whether a buffet, sit-down dinner, or some hors d’oeuvres — and the choir will perform a few pieces for its guests.
Germany has had a particularly close affiliation, having provided a garden party for the past four years. It is planning to do so again this year.
“The Ottawa Bach Choir is a wonderful example of a combination of Canadian and German culture,” said German Ambassador Werner Wnendt. “We’re very happy to support the choir every year.”
This year, the Ottawa Bach Choir fundraiser at the German embassy will be part of a week-long festival that will otherwise feature famous performers from Germany. It takes place June 9-12.
The embassy of Turkey was also a big supporter last year. It held a buffet dinner and a short concert. The ambassador says it plans to do the same again this year.
“Last year’s event was a huge success,” said Turkish Ambassador Tuncay Babali. “There was a wonderful crowd of music-lovers. They performed a small concert and then we had a dinner and reception. This year, we’ll have even higher participation. It’s a good opportunity for us to showcase our food and cuisine and our love of classical music.”
In addition to providing the venue and the food and drink, the embassy is trying to find a way to get the choir to Turkey as part of the European Tour that will have the choir visit Germany, Italy and the Netherlands this summer.
These types of events are a win-win for the choir, Dr. Canton says. “People love going to an ambassador’s residence. They get to experience the culture and eat the food. We usually provide a short concert. It’s a really nice way to spend an evening. Every little bit of support we can garner is so appreciated.”
In January, the choir presented a “Venetian Carnival” gala and fundraiser at the National Arts Centre. In this case, the Germans — Werner Wnendt and his wife, Eleonore Wnendt-Juber — continued to show their support by attending.

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