Rachel Rensink-Hoff – Conductor
Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff is Associate Professor of Music at the Brock University Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts, Conductor of the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers. Prior to her appointment at Brock University, Rachel spent eight years on faculty at McMaster University.
Past Vice-President of Programming for Choral Canada and Past-President of Choirs Ontario, Rachel maintains an active career as adjudicator, workshop clinician, and juror both locally and across Canada. As guest conductor, she has led the 2017 Nova Scotia Youth Choir and the 2018 Sing Summer Youth Choir. In 2019, she was featured in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Singsation series. She has enjoyed presenting at conferences for Choral Canada, the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and Choirs Ontario and internationally at the national conference of the American Choral Director’s Association and the International Federation for Choral Music World Symposium on Choral Music.
Rachel and choirs under her direction have been the recipients of numerous honours and awards. She is the 2014 winner of the prestigious Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting awarded by the Ontario Arts Council. That same year she was also a nominee for the McMaster Student Union Teaching Awards. Her McMaster Women’s Choir was awarded first prize in their category of the 2015 National Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs and the Avanti Chamber Singers was named “Most Promising New Adult Ensemble” in 2019.
Awarded the 2010 Choral Canada National Choral Award for Outstanding Dissertation, Rachel has published numerous articles on choral pedagogy and repertoire in the Choral Journal, Anacrusis, and the Canadian Music Educator. Her ongoing work focuses on conductor training and mentorship, choral repertoire, singing and wellbeing, and the creative processes of choral rehearsal and performance. She is the founder of the Brock University Summer Choral Workshop program for conductors and educators and has recently launched a new annual guest speaker series, Shared Perspectives.
Rachel holds Master of Music and Doctoral degrees in choral conducting and music education from Western University and a Bachelor of Music Education from Calvin College, Michigan. She has also completed additional choral studies as Conducting Fellow in the Chorus America Conducting Academy and participant in the Eastman School of Music Summer Conducting Institute, the Voice Care Network of St. John’s University, Minnesota, and at the University of Toronto.
Lesley Kingham – Accompanist
Ms Kingham holds a BMus from the U. of Western Ontario (gold medal in pipe organ performance), and a MMus from the U. of Notre Dame (Indiana). She is the regular rehearsal and concert accompanist for Avanti Chamber Singers, and was formerly organ and keyboard instructor as well as staff accompanist at Brock University. In addition she is organist and music director at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in St. Catharines. Ms Kingham also maintains a private music studio, specializing in piano, and continues to accompany widely as both pianist and organist throughout southern Ontario.
Harris Loewen – Conductor Emeritus
Dr. Harris Loewen (BMus, UBC; DMA, U. of Iowa) was Associate Professor in the Department of Music at Brock University (1987-2018), where he conducted the university choral ensembles and taught related courses. During his career, he was a chorister, baritone soloist and/or conductor with professional and amateur choirs in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, also performing as a pop and jazz vocalist in various settings. In Niagara, Loewen was the founding conductor of the Niagara Vocal Ensemble (1991-2011), Avanti Chamber Singers (2006-17), and Brock University Men’s Chorus (2008-2017). Under his direction, the university choirs and community ensembles released five recordings in the Voices of Niagara CD Series, featuring the work of Niagara composers. Over the years, Loewen has written vocal and choral music for television and a variety of other commissions. Since his retirement, a number of these choral compositions and arrangements are being published, along with some newer works.