About Oriana Singers
Oriana Singers of Northumberland have been ‘making music whose beauty will move you’ for over 40 years, across a variety of genres. In the past 2 years, concerts have included, in addition to classics such as Handel’s Messiah, musical tributes to the movies, the Swing era, East Coast music and fusing jazz to classical.
Oriana frequently invites special guest musicians, specialists of these various genres, among them the Stephanie Cadman Trio, Brian Barlow and His Musicians, The Cobourg Band, La Movida and mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell.
Artistic director & conductor
As conductor, choreographer, adjudicator, and educator, Markus Howard has worked extensively throughout the world in musical genres such as opera, musical theatre, pop, and jazz voice. His students have included members of Broadway and National Touring companies, the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, and Toronto’s Lion King, Mamma Mia, Billy Elliott, The Producers, and Jersey Boys. His talents have been recognized by Yamaha Music Canada, the Swedish Ministry of Culture, and the International Association of Jazz Educators. He was recently nominated, for the second time, by the Ontario Arts Council as a finalist for the prestigious Leslie Bell Prize for Excellence in Conducting.
Markus is Artistic Director for two of Ontario’s outstanding youth organizations: the Guelph Youth Singers and La Jeunesse Choirs of Northumberland County. He conducts the Oriana Singers of Northumberland and serves as guest conductor for professional ensembles, including Toronto’s St. James Cathedral Choir and the Larkin Singers. Markus is recognized for his skill in writing original librettos, and in composing and arranging choral music, and youth musicals and operas. As the Canadian Opera Company’s Lead Artist Educator, he will present three youth operas celebrating the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.
Teaching in both the music and dance divisions, Markus served with the Royal Conservatory of Music Glenn Gould School and Young Artist Performance Academy, and the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. He represented UNESCO as an ambassador of Arts and Goodwill and he has appeared as a chorister with several European choirs and with numerous Canadian professional choirs. He directed the University of Toronto Hart House Jazz Choir and Massey College Choirs and is a much sought-after Canadian festival adjudicator in the choral, musical theatre, instrumental, dance, and acting categories. Markus is the founding conductor of the professional chamber choir La Movida, one of his proudest accomplishments, and he continues to share his skills with artists at home and abroad.
Robert began his musical studies in Port Hope and later furthered them at York University. He achieved the degree of Colleague with the Royal Canadian College of Organists, earning the highest marks in Canada. He is the former Organist-Choirmaster at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Port Hope, a position he held from 1981 to 2004. Currently he is Minister of Music at Trinity United Church in Peterborough, where he leads a busy and varied music program with an adult chancel choir, a handbell choir, and an instrumental ensemble.
A long-time member of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Robert’s compositions have been sung by church choirs locally and in Peterborough and Toronto, and by MusicMakers and the Oriana Singers. In 2013 his anthem “Where You Go, I Will Go” was given its European premiere at a wedding in Germany.
For many years Robert has been involved with the Oriana Singers – as a singer, guest soloist, director, accompanist, and composer. On several occasions he has been commissioned to write new works for concert performance. His excellent ear and skillful technique continue to be a gift to the choir.
The name Oriana dates from the era of Queen Elizabeth I of England, when the art of madrigal writing was at its peak. The name Gloriana, shortened to Oriana, was a fanciful name for the Monarch. The finest composers of the time contributed beautiful and intricate compositions to a series of madrigals known as The Triumphs of Oriana as a tribute to the Queen. Each song from the group ended with the refrain, “Long Live Fair Oriana”.
- Oriana Singers meet for the 1st time to sing madrigals and ancient church music for their own enjoyment.
- The choir is soon invited to perform concerts and to provide choral music for church services and theatrical productions.
1970 - 1979
- Busy Winter and Spring seasons in the Cobourg-Port Hope area, and in various major centres in southern Ontario.
- Participated in many events of local significance - Cobourg Sesquicentennial Celebrations and the gala reopening of Victoria Hall in Cobourg.
- Won first prize at the Oshawa and Toronto Kiwanis Festivals, performing in the Festival of Stars at the St. Lawrence Centre.
- Their very high standing leads to their entry in the 1980 National Competitive Festival where they win the City of Lincoln Challenge Trophy as best chamber choir in Canada.
- Win the Fred Everett Memorial prize for excellence in choral singing the Toronto Kiwanis Festival.
- Commission Toronto composer Ruth Watson Henderson to write a setting of Psalm 150 to celebrate the 25th anniversary season.
- Retirement of Beryl Maguire, founding director of twenty-five years
- Robert Grandy, co-director since 1993, becomes director until 1997, followed by Randy Mills.
- Marie Anderson is welcomed as conductor.
- Marie leaves the group to continue her education and is replaced by Markus Howard, artistic director and conductor to this day.
Oriana Board 2016-2017
President: Heather Stubbs
Vice-President: Barry Wood
Secretary: Joan Bale
Financial Coordinator: Laurie Vandewater
Concert Coordination: Rosemary MacDonald and Lorna Doubt
Membership Coordinator: Kathy Chatten
Policy and Personnel: Starr Olsen
Member at Large: Jacqui Manning-Albert