Cantata Singers of Ottawa
Home > About the Choir & Director Content updated 12 September 2006

Cantata Singers of Ottawa

The Choir: Cantata Singers of Ottawa

The Cantata Singers of Ottawa, founded in 1964, is dedicated to excellence in the performance of choral music from Canada and around the world. In June 2005, Michael Zaugg took over the baton of the choir as Music Director and is now leading the choir in new and exciting directions.

The choir produces its own concert series every year and makes numerous guest appearances with other organizations. Its repertoire encompasses a broad variety of music, both classical and contemporary, from around the world. As part of its series, the choir supports local and national composers by commissioning and performing their works.

Since the opening of the National Arts Centre (NAC) in 1969, the Cantata Singers of Ottawa has performed every year with the NAC Orchestra under the baton of the NAC's artistic directors, from Mario Bernardi to Trevor Pinnock and Pinchas Zukerman, as well as internationally renowned guest conductors.

In the fall of 2005, the Cantata Singers of Ottawa released two CDs: Songs of Inspiration—A Feast of Canadian Choral Music and Rachmaninoff's Vespers (All Night Vigil), both under the baton of the choir's former Music Director, Laurence Ewashko, who had replaced Brian Law as Music Director in 1988. These join the choir's earlier recording of Christmas tunes from around the world. Send an e-mail message to the choir at to request further information about the recordings. In 1998, it united with the NAC Orchestra under Mario Bernardi in recording (Shattered Night, Shivering Stars), a CD of music of Canadian composer Alexina Louie. The choir has recorded programmes for CBC Radio, CBC Television and Radio Canada, and it has won top honours in the CBC Radio competition for amateur choirs

Along with numerous tours within Canada, the Cantata Singers of Ottawa performs internationally. Over the past 20 years or so, along with touring in southern Manitoba, the Maritimes, and southwestern Ontario, the choir has been nearly around the world. In 1988, it represented the City of Ottawa in a cultural exchange with The Hague in The Netherlands. The summer of 1994 saw the choir in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In June, 1998, the choir toured Austria and Hungary, performing in Innsbruck, Salzburg, Graz, Budapest and Vienna. The choir sang Brückner's Ave Maria in St. Florian's Abbey, where it had been written. Most recently, in June, 2001, the choir toured Italy, participating in the Third International Festival of Choirs in Siena (arranged by the Associazione Musicale Coro Vico Alto di Siena) and performing in Perugia and Rome.

Music Director, Michael Zaugg

The Music Director: Michael Zaugg

Michael Zaugg grew up in a small Swiss village situated on the Rhine River just across from Germany. He holds Masters Degrees in Choral Conducting, Voice, and Music Education from the Musikhochschule of Basel, and teaching diplomas in both Primary and Secondary Education.

In 2002, Mr. Zaugg was the first Swiss person accepted into the prestigious post-graduate program for Professional Choral Conductors at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. There, he had the opportunity to work weekly with singers of the Swedish Radio Choir and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir under the tutelage of Professor Anders Eby. During his stay in Sweden, Mr. Zaugg also conducted the world-renowned Adolf Fredriks Girls' Choir, the Mikaeli Chamber Choir, and the Södertälje Chamber Choir.

As a tenor, Mr. Zaugg has performed throughout Europe and Asia with groups such as the World Youth Choir, the Swiss Chamber Choir, Mikaeli Chamber Choir, and Studio Vocale Karlsruhe under such world-renowned conductors as Robert Sund (Sweden), Frieder Bernius (Germany), Nobuaka Tanaka (Japan), Maria Guinand (Venezuela), Gary Graden (Sweden), André Thomas (USA), Werner Pfaff (Germany) and Tonu Kaljuste (Estonia).

On the podium, Mr. Zaugg has worked regularly with children's and youth choirs, community and oratorio choirs, professional chamber choirs, and a female octet. He was Assistant Conductor of the REGIO-Chor Binningen / Bottmingen (Switzerland), Assistant Conductor of the International Choirs of Zimriya (Israel), Conductor of the girls' choir Voices (Switzerland), and Conductor of non troppo (Switzerland).

In 2000, Mr. Zaugg founded World Voices, a chamber choir comprised of professional singers from 22 countries around the world. He led this group in performance tours of Switzerland (2000), Italy (2000), and Spain (2001, 2003).

Most recently, Mr. Zaugg appeared as a Guest Conductor at the Bramstrup Performing Arts Festival (Denmark) with the Danish National Youth Choir and the Academic Choir of Ljubljana (Slovenia). He marked his recent move to Canada with a guest appearance with the Vancouver Chamber Choir as part of the 25th National Symposium for Choral Conductors. As one of Canada’s newest residents, Mr. Zaugg is eager to make his contribution to the Canadian choral scene.