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Artistic Team

Shawn Grenke, Artistic Director

GetAttachmentShawnpicheadshot Shawn is pleased to be the new Artistic Director of the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers. He is also the Director of Music at Eglinton St.George’s United Church in Toronto, Accompanist for the Amadeus Choir of Toronto under the direction of Lydia Adams, Accompanist to the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto and Artistic Director of the 90 member Burlington Seniors’ Centre Choir. Mr.Grenke is also the past Assistant Conductor/Accompanist of the internationally famed Hamilton Children’s Choir where he served for 9 exciting years.

Shawn began his musical training as a chorister and pianist with the Hastings County Board of Education Concert Choir under the Direction of Rudolf Heijdens in his hometown of Belleville, Ontario. Holding a Bachelor of Music degree (2000) from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick), and a Master of Music degree (2002) from the University of Toronto, Mr. Grenke has served as organist and Music Director at various churches throughout Ontario and the Maritimes for almost twenty years, and is a member of the Royal College of Church Organists, the Royal School of Church Music, and a fellow of the Honorary Company of Organists.wfsnewlogofinal2Shawnpicconducting

In concert, Mr. Grenke has made appearances in Poland, at the ‘Let the Future Sing’ Choral Festival in Sweden, the ‘Le Mondial Choral Loto-Québec World Choral Competition’ in Laval, Québec, ‘Xinghai Choral Competition’ in China, Roy Thomson Hall, and at various festivals, concert series and recitals throughout Canada the United States and Europe. In February of 2014, Shawn accompanied the Elmer Iseler Singers on a North Canadian tour of Yellowknife, Banff and Edmonton. This August Shawn will also travel to Seoul, Korea with the Hamilton Children’s Choir where they will participate in the 10th Annual World symposium of Choral music.

 

Janet Robb, Accompanist

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Janet Robb began her accompanying career at the age of 10 when she was handed the music for her Junior Church Choir. This lead to playing for school choirs, and being drafted to play for fellow students in a wide variety of instrumental and vocal performance situations.  She received both solo Performer and Teacher’s A.R.C.T. Diplomas from the Royal conservatory of Music. Janet is in demand as an accompanist throughout south-western Ontario, working with singers, instrumentalists and choirs.  She is actively involved with Music Festivals and other competitions, recitals, auditions, examinations, music theatre and various concert presentations. As well as her vocation, music is her passion, having been inspired by a wonderful teacher at an early age always reminding her that “When you sing or play something it must say something.”  Janet also maintains an active piano teaching studio from her home in Innerkip.

 

Ruth Watson Henderson – Guest Composer

Ruth Watson Henderson has an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading composers of choral music, and as an admired pianist and organist. rwh

She has done much to promote the artistry of children through her wealth of compositions for treble voices, using the expertise gleaned over 29 years as accompanist of the Toronto Children’s Chorus under Jean Ashworth Bartle, until 2007 when both retired. She has at the same time written a wide spectrum of works for adult choirs – an activity begun while she was accompanist of the Festival Singers under Dr. Elmer Iseler.

Her works are acclaimed, performed and recorded worldwide. Such well-known choirs as the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Toronto Children’s Chorus, the Amadeus Choir, and the Ontario Youth Choir regularly perform them. Her pieces are often featured as the title track on such recordings as My Heart Soars (TCC), Come, Ye Makers of Song (TCC), The Last Straw (Amabile Boys Choirs), When Music Sounds (Oriana Singers) and Be Thou My Vision (Oriana Women’s Choir). The Elmer Iseler Singers released a CD, Sing All Ye Joyful, entirely devoted to the works of Ruth Watson Henderson. This CD has found great favour with reviewers. William Littler, writing in the Toronto Star, refers to the recording as “long overdue”, and states that Ruth’s “years as an accompanist for Elmer Iseler contributed to an understanding of the expressive possibilities of choral sound that has given birth to some of the most singable choral music in the Canadian literature.”

Ruth Watson Henderson is in constant demand to write commissioned works for acclaimed choirs, special church celebrations, and festivals in Canada and the United States. Her commissioned works include the highly acclaimed From Darkness to Light, a cantata for choir, chamber orchestra, organ and soloists, commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for their national convention; Peaceful, the Wondrous Night, commissioned by the CBC for their Christmas Sing-In 2009, premiered by the Choir of St. Andrew and St. Paul, and broadcast nationwide, from Montreal; A Song of the Seasons, a work for two choirs, commissioned by the Richard Eaton Singers and premiered by this choir along with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, in Edmonton, March 2010; and Paths of a Luminous Earth, also premiered in March 2010 by the commissioning choir, The Elmer Iseler Singers.

Although most widely known for her prolific output of choral works, Ms Watson Henderson has also written compositions for piano and organ, as well as for other instruments. Some recent additions in the instrumental category are Intrada for Trumpet and Organ, Fantasy for Saxophone and Organ, and Suite for Violin and Organ. In July 2009, her Celebration for organ was chosen by the Annual Festival of New Organ Music (AFNOM) as the winning composition in a competition to honour the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ Centennial. This work was premiered in Westminster Abbey to open the final recital of the Festival.

Recognized for her lifetime of service to music, Ruth has been paid many great tributes by the music community. She has been honoured by the conferring of an honorary Fellowship by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (FRCCO). The Association of Canadian Choral Conductors (ACCC) presented her with the National Choral Award for Outstanding Choral Composition for Voices of Earth, and the Ontario Choral Federation awarded her their Distinguished Service Award. As a tribute on landmark birthdays, numerous fine choirs performed entire concerts of works by Ruth Watson Henderson; these choirs included the Elmer Iseler Singer, the Toronto Children’s Chorus and the Oriana Women’s Choir of Toronto. Equally at home at the piano keyboard or with blank manuscript paper, she frequently appears as guest artist for choirs performing her works, as was the case in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Pianist, organist, and composer, Ruth Watson Henderson is currently the music director at Kingsway-Lambton United Church in Toronto. She is a member of SOCAN, the Canadian Music Centre, the RCCO, and the Canadian League of Composers.