Conductors


1958-1967

Hugh McLean

Hugh McLean, Canadian born, received his early musical training in Winnipeg and Vancouver. Later he went to England on scholarship, where he studied piano and…

Hugh McLean, Canadian born, received his early musical training in Winnipeg and Vancouver. Later he went to England on scholarship, where he studied piano and organ at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1951, he became organ scholar of King's College, Cambridge, and graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1956 with degrees in musicology and organ. He made his professional debut at the Royal Command Concert in November 1955 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, playing the Malcolm Arnold Organ Concerto with Sir Adrian Boult and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. For many years he lived in Vancouver and was active in the musical life of the city. The Cantata Singers, which he founded in 1958, gave first performances of many important choral works, and the Hugh McLean Consort introduced much of the Baroque instrumental literature to Vancouver audiences. Hugh McLean was organist and choirmaster of Ryerson United Church from 1957 and a professor of organ, harpsichord and sacred music at the University of British Columbia from 1969. He resigned both positions in 1973 to take up a seven-year appointment of Dean of the Faculty of Music of The University of Western Ontario in London, the largest music school in Canada. In 1981 he resumed full-time teaching in the Faculty and the organistship of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario. As an organ recitalist, Mr. McLean has played in all the major Canadian centres as well as in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Minneapolis. In 1963, he undertook a series of recordings for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on historic organs of England, the Netherlands and the German Democratic Republic. He has also broadcast for the BBC in England, Swiss Radio and NHK Tokyo. In 1970 he was invited to play in Bach's church, St. Thomas's, Leipzig. Recent tours have taken him in 1972 to Switzerland, in 1975 to Finland and Norway, and in 1976 to Japan. During the 1980-81 season he was resident in Cambridge, England and gave many recitals in Britain and the Continent. In September 1982 he was chosen to inaugurate the large concert organ at the opening of Toronto's new Roy Thomson Hall, performing the Poulenc Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis. Hugh McLean was well-known in Canada as a musicologist specializing in seventeenth and eighteenth century studies. He has published definitive editions of the organ works of Purcell and Krebs and wrote nineteen articles for the new edition of Grove' Dictionary. In 1977 his contribution to musicology in Canada was recognized by election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada. Hugh McLean passed away peacefully on July 30, 2017 in Naples, FL.

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1967-1973

John Wiebe

John Wiebe was brought on board by Hugh McLean to prepare VCS for a performance of Bach's St. John Passion, providing an opportunity for choir…

John Wiebe was brought on board by Hugh McLean to prepare VCS for a performance of Bach's St. John Passion, providing an opportunity for choir and possible-new-conductor to work together. John was a public school teacher in Burnaby, had received his music training in Detmold, Germany and was already known to Vancouverites through his Motet Singers, drawn from the city's musical German-speaking community. During his initial years with us, VCS was essentially an amalgamation of singers from VCS and the Motet Singers. The Vancouver Cantata Society Membership List of 1969 lists 20 sopranos, 19 altos, 12 tenors and 7 basses. Forty years later, VCS alumni still remember John fondly, recalling that he was always looking for new choral music (Schutz, Kodaly, Byrd, Dunstable). One alumna lovingly described John as a "big but gentle lad" who was always pushing the choir "in his gentle way" to sing more challenging repertoire. Alumni recall John conducting Bach's Christmas Oratorio (with John Vickers as soloist) and performing Mozart's Coronation Mass from the back balcony at St. James Anglican Church, much as Mozart would have done.

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1973-2000

James Fankhauser

The Vancouver Cantata Singers' longest serving Artistic Director, James Fankhauser became the outstanding musician he is today in a somewhat roundabout manner. He grew up…

The Vancouver Cantata Singers' longest serving Artistic Director, James Fankhauser became the outstanding musician he is today in a somewhat roundabout manner. He grew up in Kansas where he began his musical training as a lyric tenor and trombonist. An ill- fated year studying Engineering at university convinced him that his talents lay elsewhere, and he switched to the study of music. He earned a degree in performance from the Oberlin Conservatory, and pursued post- graduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at Oxford University on a Fulbright Scholarship. After returning to the United States, Fankhauser received his Master of Arts in Musicology from the University of California. In 1972 Fankhauser was granted a Rockefeller Fellowship to attend the Aspen Choral Institute as a Conducting Fellow. His excellence in these studies led to his return a year later with an Assistant Directorship. At this time Fankhauser made the pivotal decision of his career. Instead of remaining at the renowned Aspen Institute, he chose to come to the University of British Columbia to start up its fledgling choral programme. In doing so, he has immensely enriched the Canadian choral scene, and his legacy has influenced many of the city's choral conductors. James Fankhauser has been the recipient of several awards, including the University of British Columbia's 75th Anniversary Outstanding Teacher award in 1990. His choirs, which have included the University Singers, the Cantata Singers and a short-lived chamber group called Chrysalis, have won several prizes in both national and international competitions.

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2001-2002

Peter Butterfield

Since his debut as tenor soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1982, Peter Butterfield has been performing internationally. He grew up in Victoria, Canada,…

Since his debut as tenor soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1982, Peter Butterfield has been performing internationally. He grew up in Victoria, Canada, studied at McGill University, Montreal, moved to Europe in 1987 and continued his vocal studies and the building of his solo tenor career in Manchester, Florence and London. In Canada he has appeared with the Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Kingston and Victoria Symphony Orchestras, as well as with Symphony Nova Scotia, Tafelmusik and Le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal. Recordings include the Rachmaninov Vespers with the Philharmonia Chorus, Purcell with Winchester Cathedral Choir and Haydn Masses with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under Gardiner. A 2002 recording of Haydn's Masses under Sir John Eliot Gardiner on the Philips label was named 'CD of the Month' by Gramophone magazine. Other highlights of his career include a live worldwide broadcast of Bach's B minor Mass from Suntory Hall, Tokyo, under Gardiner, performing the role of 'Albert' (Albert Herring, Britten) at the Aldeburgh Festival, a broadcast on the BBC of Britten's War Requiem on Remembrance Day, 2001, and a video recording of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 in Milan. His 2006 solo-singing engagements included Bach's St Matthew Passion for the Victoria Symphony, The Emperor of China in Puccini's Turandot for Vancouver Opera, and the tenor solo with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a Mass by Avro Part. Peter Butterfield began choral conducting alongside his singing in 1995. He conducted various groups in England (being based there from 1991-2001) as a guest, and he was an associate conductor of I Solisti Madrigale in Florence, Italy, from 1991-1996. He moved back to the West Coast in 2001 and was the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Vancouver Cantata Singers for the 2001/2002 season. Peter has conducted several choral workshops as the guest of choirs in the Lower Mainland, and he participated in the 2005 International Choral Conductors' Workshop sponsored by the Vancouver Chamber Choir. He established the semi-professional chamber choir VancouverVoices in 2003, VancouverVoicesYouth in 2005, and the professional VancouverVoicesQuartet in 2006.

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2002-2012

Eric Hannan

Eric Hannan is an experienced choral conductor who has built an enthusiastic and loyal following among Vancouver's choral community over the past sixteen years. Under…

Eric Hannan is an experienced choral conductor who has built an enthusiastic and loyal following among Vancouver's choral community over the past sixteen years. Under his direction, the Vancouver Cantata Singers have kept alive their passion for choral excellence, and maintained their position among the ranks of Canada's foremost choral ensembles. In addition to conducting the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Eric is on the music faculty at Douglas College, in his 14th year directing the choral program and teaching solo voice. Eric completed a degree in music composition at the University of British Columbia, where he studied conducting for three-years with mentor James Fankhauser. He then went on to graduate study in conducting at the Universities of Michigan and Illinois. Upon his return to Vancouver, and before taking the position at Douglas College, he served on the music faculty at the University of British Columbia where he conducted the University Singers, Choral Union and Collegium usicum, and taught conducting. More recently, Eric studied conducting with Frieder Bernius at the International Academy of Advanced Choral Conducting in 2000. Eric also served on the faculty of the Nelson Summer Songfest in 2003 and 2004, where he assisted Simon Carrington with the popular community choral program and directed the small ensemble component of the solo voice program headed by Nancy Argenta. He is active locally as a choral clinician, and pays frequent visits to Greater Vancouver's high school choirs to help foster our next generation of choral singers and enthusiasts.

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2012-2017

Paula Kremer

Born in Vancouver and educated at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia, Paula Kremer has studied choral conducting in courses…

Born in Vancouver and educated at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia, Paula Kremer has studied choral conducting in courses and workshops at Eton, Westminster Choir College, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. She has also been a vocal student of Phyllis Mailing, Bruce Pullan and Laura Pudwell. In 1997, Kremer joined the faculty of Vancouver Community College’s School of Music, where she now is a full-time instructor of solfege, aural skills, concert choir and voice. She has been the director of two Vancouver Bach Choir ensembles for young adults since 2008.

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