Orillia Vocal Ensemble

Who We Are

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble is a community choir that raises money for local charities through its concerts. In the last ten years, the Ensemble has raised more than $150,000. Some of those charities are the Mariposa Hospice, Orillia Community Foundation, Jubilee House, the Sharing Place food bank, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Hillcrest Lodge, Greenhaven Women's Shelter, and Information Orillia.

We also sing at a number of retirement homes at Christmas, and participate in concerts with other Orillia performing arts groups.

Important Information about CoVID-19 as it relates to our Choir: CoVID-19 Webpage for the OVE

Latest News

Roy Menagh presented with gift from an OVE member

Presentation to Roay MenaghOn March 8th, Fred Larsen, President of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, presented Roy Menagh with the gift of a framed print of a painting by local artist Dave Beckett, to commemorate his musical leadership of the OVE since founding the community choir in 2010.  The presentation was delayed considerably by the cancellation of Roy’s final concert last spring because of the Covid-19 restrictions at the time, and delayed further while awaiting the possibility of a more formal and public event.  However, March 8th was also Roy’s birthday, so what better an occasion for the presentation, outside and physically distanced!

The print was the very generous donation to the OVE by a member of the choir, and subsequently framed as a retirement and farewell gift for Roy.  The viewer’s eye is drawn to a red canoe in the distance at the very center of the painting, and interestingly, at the time of the presentation to Roy, his own red canoe could be seen on top of a trailer at the entrance to his garage. A very fitting painting, indeed!

March 9, 2021

New! - Online Choir Sight-Reading workshop starting Tuesday, Mar 9th at 7:00pm

For details see the education page in the members area.


Blair Bailey

Blair Bailey, long-time choir master, organist, and accompanist in Orillia was named the new Musical Director of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble following the retirement of founding director Roy Menagh in the spring 2020. The restrictions on public gatherings related to Covid-19 precautions effectively curtailed a public concert by the community choir which had been planned to recognize the enormous contributions of Roy and the formal passing of the baton to Blair. Thankfully the choir was able to recognize and thank Roy with a nomination for the Orillia District Arts Council Qennefer Browne Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual or group of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of their community and the OVE was thrilled to see Roy become the recipient.

The new OVE Director, Blair Bailey, was born and raised in Orillia and has an enviable career in our community, following his graduation in 1984 with a music degree from the University of Toronto. He has been anchored at St. Paul's Centre as organist and music director since shortly after this, and additionally, was Artistic Director for the Orillia Kiwanis Music Festival for 25 years, and has also been the accompanist for The Cellar Singers since 1985. Blair is also renowned for his productions of musicals, most notably “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” last year. No stranger to the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, Blair has routinely filled in as the conductor for rehearsals during times when Roy Menagh was unavailable. Blair, and MaryJo Wilson - longtime accompanist for the OVE - are a formidable pair of musicians who are looking forward to working together in the months and years ahead, as are the choir members!

Though choirs are not performing these days, apart from virtual rehearsals and presentations, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble is planning a series of workshops for potential new members and current members on choral sight-singing, as a way to introduce potential members to the basics of reading and timing of notes. These workshops will, hopefully, provide some coaching in advance of a return to full rehearsals and public performances, at some point in the not-too-distant future!

These workshops will be conducted by both Blair and MaryJo in blocks of four weeks, one night per week for an hour and a half, and will cover the basics of reading music and understanding notes, timing, rhythm and pitch. The cost of the four-part workshop is $50 and this includes the text book that will be used for the instruction. It is anticipated that there will also be virtual opportunities for the fun, convivial choral singing that the OVE has always treasured!

So, with continuing physical isolation and lockdown of favourite activities, here's an opportunity to have some fun learning a new skill, or refreshing your current knowledge. Interested persons are invited to contact the Orillia Vocal Ensemble via email at workshop@orilliavocalensemble.com

Isabel Livie is the 2019/2020 recipient of the Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship

Isabel LivieWe are pleased to announce (rather late) that Isabel Livie is the winner of the Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship for last year.  Normally, the winner would have been asked to perform at our end-of-season concert in late May last year, but with the Covid-19 restrictions in place, this could not happen.  Instead, we have asked Isabel to say a few words about what she is doing:

"This year has been soo crazy with Covid and it has definitely been a challenge to start university along with it. I finished my first semester of my Bachelor of Arts at Queens and despite the difficulties of learning on line have seemed to pass my courses with flying colours for a first year. I have already set myself up for my double major of music and drama by studying music theory, vocal composition, and drama as well. I also plan on taking my Grade 9 Harmony exam with the Royal Conservatory of Music come the end of my second semester!"

Congratulations, Isabel.  We will no doubt hear more about your progress later!

January 11, 2021

Roy Menagh receives ODAC/OMAH Qennefer Browne 
Achievement Award

ODAC Award

Roy Menagh, former musical director of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble was honoured to receive the Qennefer Browne Achievement Award today in the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards presented by the Orillia and District Arts Council and the Orillia Museum of Art and History.  Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, the award took place at a virtual ceremony that was broadcast on a YouTube live streaming channel.  In his acceptance speech, Roy said that he felt honoured to receive such an award, and pointed out that many other people were involved in his endeavours, and that he felt they all should be recognized for their efforts.

The award ceremony can be seen by clicking on the following YouTube link:


Roy's acceptance speech starts at 35:40 in the video.

November 24, 2020

Past Events

"All Through the Night" Concert on Sunday afternoon. March the 1st, 2020

A beautiful eclectic program of Lauridsen, Brahms, Vivaldi with soprano soloists, Welsh Music, African Music, Early Music with recorders, and the music of New Orleans was held in support of the Mariposa Hospice. It raised nearly $4,000. 

Participants were: 

All through the Night - ChoirMarcia & Mary JoGareth Thomas singing in WelshChamber Choir Clothes of HeavenToot Suite playing Ah Dear HeartHugh  Coleman - When the SaintsThe ChequeMC Greg Evan


The Annual "Old-Fashioned Family Christmas Celebration" took place again this year on Saturday, December the 14th, 2019

This fund-raiser for the "Sharing Place" food centre in Orillia raised more than $7,000 and attracted so many people that Thor motors show room was packed with happy faces. The Orillia Music Centre provided 70 enthusiastic young Ukelele players who played carols, ate cookies, and met with Santa Claus. Forty members of the OVE sang a variety of carols and Christmas music and ended the festivities with the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah. Our thanks go out to Thor Motors, Roy Menagh, and Mary Jo Wilson in addition to all the volunteers!


Joyful Sound Christmas Concert

December 8th at 3pm - The Orillia Vocal Ensemble presented Joyful Sound, a Christmas concert in support of Lakehead University's Humanities 101 program.

The concert featured performances from Rita Arendz, A Little Wind Music, and soloists Laura Aylan-Parker and Dean Jobin-Bevans. 

Santa Clause



A joint Concert with The Washago and Gravenhurst Ukuleles and the Orillia Youth Centre was a benefit for the Youth Centre and raised $2,500 on May 26th, 2019 

Our last full concert of the 2018/2019 season was a youthful one which featured the music of Bruce Cockburn, Stan Rogers, Duke Ellington, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jerry Garcia, and Hoagy Carmichael to name a few. The program featured some excellent solo work by key members of the choir, the happy and popular work of the WG Ukelele choir, and a handful of young musicians from the Youth Centre itself playing their own music. 

Pictured below are, in the left picture, (left to right) OVE President Fred Larson and Ethan Mask, who stood in for OYC Director of Youth Opportunities Kevin Gangloff at short notice. Next are two members of the Ukelele Group. In the right-hand picture are Ethan and the members of the OYC band. 


Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship - 2019 Recipient

Our 2019  Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship recipient is Lauryn MacDonald. Lauryn is currently singing in the National Honour Choir in Ottawa at MusicFest Canada.  She aspires to  becoming a music educator. Following her graduation from Mount Allison University, she plans to attend Acadia University and enroll in their Bachelor of Music Education program. Upon graduation, she hopes to immediately start working in the school system and after finishing these two Bachelor degrees, would like to undergo a Masters program, preferably in music education and choral conducting. We are proud to award her our Scholarship.

Over $4,000 raised for Alzheimers Society

The Love Never Forgets concert on April 7, 2019 raised $4,140 for the Alzheimers Society of Simcoe County.  Musical pieces in this concert included works by Mark Sirrett, Gabriel Faure, Bach, Mozart, Debussy and Dobrogosz.

In the photo below, Fred Larsen, President of the OVE, presents a cheque to Debbie Islam, Chief Executive Officer of the society (right) and Valerie Powell (left).

OVE and Nai Choir raise $3,000+ for YMCA

In a joint concert on February 24th, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble and the Nai Children's Choir, with the participation of children from the Orillia Music Centre, raised just over $3,000 for the YMCA's Skid Watson Fund.  The Songs for the Children concert featured a mix of Syrian, Canadian and international music.  Here, OVE president Fred Larsen and Fei Tang of CultureLink (on the right) present a cheque for the proceeds to Pamela Marck and Kate Meeks of the YMCA (on the left).

Special Concert on February 24

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble and Nai Children’s Choir will co-present a special concert featuring a variety of Syrian and Canadian patriotic music with guest performers from the Orillia Music Centre. A fundraiser for the YMCA Skid Watson Fund, it will be held at 3:00 pm. in St. Paul’s Centre Great Hall, 62 Peter Street North, Orillia. Admission is free with a free will collection.  Members of the Nai Choir recently sang at the celebration of the 80th birthday of Adrienne Clarkson, where the photo below was taken.  Recognizable public figures who attended include former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, writer John Ralston Saul, former prime minister Jean Chretien, and current Governor-General Julie Payette.

Nai Choir sings for Adrienne Clarkson

Joyful Sound concert supports Building Hope

On Saturday, December 15, 2018, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble (director Roy Menagh, accompanist Mary Jo Wilson) raised $5,750 for the Lighthouse Shelter’s Building Hope campaign in a concert at St. Paul’s Centre.

Guest artists were the A Little Wind Music brass ensemble led by Rita Arendz, violinist Sean Ford and soprano Laura Aylan-Parker. Some notable choral pieces of music performed were Song for a Winter’s Night by Gordon Lightfoot, Laudate Dominum by Wolfgang Mozart and Ecce Novum by Norwegian composer Ola Gjello. Brass pieces included Christmas Day by Gustav Holtz, Huron Indian Carol by Jean de Brebeuf and Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen (Lo, how a rose e’er blooming) by Brahms.

The concert was superbly MC’d by Jack Latimer of the Building Hope campaign.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble is known as the “pay-it-forward” choir and has raised in excess of $120,000 for various Orillia charities over the past few years.


OVE president Fred Larson presents a cheque for the proceeds of the concert to Linda Goodall of the Orillia Lighthouse Shelter.

Listen to a couple of pieces from the concert:

Ecce Novum by Ola Gjeilo, sung by the OVE

Birthday Carol by David Willcocks, sung by the OVE Chamber Choir

OVE helps to raise nearly $6,000 for Sharing Place Food Bank


The annual OVE fund-raising concert to benefit the Sharing Place Food Bank took place on December 8, 2018 at Thors Motors. 80 children on ukuleles helped to enliven the proceedings, and at the end of the day about $6,000 was raised. Santa Claus also put in an appearance, to the delight of many kids. Many thanks, as usual, to Bob Brown for hosting this event and sponsoring it.
Photo by courtesy of Orillia Matters.

$2650 raised for Loonie Lunch in Richer Than Wealth concert


The OVE Richer Than Wealth concert on May 26, 2018 raised more than $2,500 for the Loonie Lunch program of the St. James Anglican Church in Orillia. The concert featured pieces by Billy Joel, Coco Love Alcorn, and Mark Sirett, among others. Guest performers were the Orillia Shout Sisters, and drumming accompaniment was provided by Mark Sturrup and his family.

Yet another successful Coral Gold workshop held on April 28, 2018

About 75 choristers from eleven choirs or choral groups participated in a sensational day of learning at Lakehead University!

As with previous workshops, three clinicians led participants in different aspects of choral singing.

Dr. Mark Sirett, noted Canadian composer and conductor, explained his compositional process to promote greater meaning and understanding in performers!

Melissa Lalonde led singers in exploring traditional Zulu vocal music and discovering some of the ways in which African song is unified.

Dr. Robin Williams presented an intense session on the basics of singing according to the Italian School, commonly referred to as bel canto.

Feedback from the choristers present was very positive, and an enjoyable day was had by all.

Spring Sing Raises $4,000+ for Jubilee House


The OVE Spring Sing concert on March 25, 2018 raised $4,400 for children's mental health programs at Jubilee House. Guest performers Paul Brooks on guitar and Mike Milner on bass accompanied the OVE on some pieces and also played some of their own selections.

Once again, we thank our sponsors and audience for their generosity, some of whom made very large donations. You are all very much appreciated.



us on

Our Sponsors and Donors...





Thor Motors




Individual Donors:

Friends of the OVE:
Brian Adams

Kathleen Andrews
Douglas Christie 
Fred Larsen
Julie Parna & Clive Algie
Bruce and Susan Waite

Music Sponsors:
Brian Adams
Kathleen Andrews

Carol Benedetti
Heather Decker
Nancy Harris
Mike and Jacqueline Heptinstall
Fred Larsen

Richard McDonald
Stephen Murch
Annalise Stenekes
Liz Stenson

Martin Ward

2019 - 2020 Concert Sponsors:
Brian Adams
Julie Parna & Clive Algie
Kathleen Andrews