Artistic Team

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. She is founder of the Niagara Choral Workshop summer program for choral teachers and conductors and host of an online guest choral series, Shared Perspectives. Prior to her appointment at Brock University, she spent eight years on faculty at McMaster University.

She and choirs under her direction have been the recipients of numerous honours and awards. Rachel is the 2014 winner of the prestigious Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting awarded by the Ontario Arts Council. Her university women’s choir earned first prize in their category of the 2015 National Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs and in 2019 the Avanti Chamber Singers was named “Most Promising New Adult Ensemble.”

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. In 2017, she conducted the Nova Scotia Youth Choir and in 2018, their Sing Summer Youth Choir Camp. In 2019, she was invited to lead the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Saturday Singsation series. This year, she is honoured to be serving as guest conductor of the 2022 Alberta Youth Choir.

Rachel has enjoyed presenting at conferences for Choral Canada, the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and Choirs Ontario and internationally at conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association, Chorus America, and the International Federation for Choral Music World Symposium on Choral Music.

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, singing and wellbeing, and the conductor’s creative processes in rehearsal and programming.

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

LesleyMs 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

HarrisDr. 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.