May 18 to 21, 2018 • Calgary
Calgary is pleased and honoured to host the 2018 Unison festival. This festival marks 20 years since Edmonton hosted the very first Canadian LGBTQ2 choir festival in 1998. Welcome back to Alberta for this exciting anniversary edition of Unison Festival Unisson!
First-Class Concert Hall
We have chosen Mount Royal University as the venue for the 2018 festival. The festival concerts will be held in the University’s flagship theatre, the Bella Concert Hall, at the heart of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts. Designed for choral and orchestral performances, the Bella is stunning, intimate, and acoustically superb.
A Gay Village on Campus
When you arrive for the festival, you will be stepping into a pop-up gay village created just for you. Sing, sleep, eat and play, all right on campus!
Accommodations will be in the University’s student residences, so you will never be far from the action. Festival concerts, dining, and after-hours events will all be within easy walking distance.
The theme for the 2018 Unison festival is “Be Creative!” Our artistic directors, Jean-Louis Bleau and Jane Perry, are crafting a weekend of creative collaboration for your enjoyment. We are throwing the doors wide open to new creations, as we seek to build community within Calgary and across the country through collaboration.
The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony and concert on Friday night in the Bella Concert Hall. Host choirs Calgary Men’s Chorus, One Voice Chorus, and the BarberEllas will take the stage to welcome everyone to Calgary. To close the concert, they will be joined by singers from local youth choirs. This massed choir, some 150 voices strong, may just raise the roof!
On Saturday and Sunday, the festival swings into its customary rhythm. Each participating choir or ensemble will perform in one of the concert blocks in the Bella Concert Hall. As always, these concert blocks are the heart of the Unison festival.
Saturday evening, Calgary introduces the Musi-Circus: an indoor street festival of music and arts in three campus theatres. Stay tuned for more news about this thrilling new feature event!
We have saved a special treat for the closing concert on Monday morning. The 2018 Unison festival will feature just one festival chorus: an SATB choir that will perform with orchestra at the closing concert in the Bella Concert Hall.
The festival weekend includes a number of social events to give delegates a chance to relax, reconnect with old friends, and make new friends. Sunday night features the festival banquet in the lovely Ross Glenn Hall, followed by a dance party in Wyckham House. Every night, you will find karaoke and other activities after hours in the campus pub. Monday morning, we dish up a pancake breakfast, to give you a taste of the Calgary Stampede.
Workshop offerings through the weekend will include a leadership conference on Friday and a workshop for singers that runs both Saturday and Sunday.
For delegates arriving early, local tours may be of interest: tour the new National Music Centre or take a queer history walk through Calgary’s Beltline district.
Friday, May 18 to Monday, May 21, 2018
The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony and concert on Friday night, marking the 20th anniversary of Unison Festival. Host choirs Calgary Men’s Chorus, One Voice Chorus, and the BarberEllas take the stage to welcome everyone to Calgary. To close the concert, they are joined by singers from local youth choirs, forming a massed choir over 150 voices strong. Following the concert, delegates get a chance to mingle over finger foods and cocktails in the lobby of the Bella Concert Hall.
The Calgary festival features a single SATB Festival Chorus. The Festival Chorus will be a blockbuster event in its own right – 200 voices or more performing with orchestra at the closing concert in the Bella Concert Hall.
On Saturday or Sunday, start your day with a dynamic workshop led by Edmonton conductor and clinician Scott Leithead. The same workshop will run both days, so everyone has a chance to take part.
The concert blocks are the heart of every Unison Festival. Participating choirs and small ensembles perform on Saturday and Sunday. Be prepared to laugh, to cry – in short, to be moved as groups ranging from 10 to 100 singers take the stage to showcase what they do best.
On Saturday evening, delegates take to the campus streets for an indoor street festival of music and arts. Performances will run simultaneously in three campus theatres, featuring local artists and members of our Unison family.
We will be finishing the Unison 2018 Festival with a bang, and you won’t want to miss it! The festival wraps up with a spectacular send-off concert in the Bella Concert Hall. This final official event of the Festival weekend will include the announcement of the next Unison host city, a special performance by the acclaimed Calgary-based Spiritus Chamber Choir, and a concert performance from the 200-voice SATB Festival Chorus accompanied by orchestra.
Throughout the weekend, delegates get a chance to unwind together at a variety of social events, including late-night karaoke in the bar, a banquet and dance party on Sunday night, and a Western-style breakfast on Monday morning. Watch for more details as the festival approaches!
Choir leaders have the opportunity to network and learn from each other at a leadership conference on Friday.