Vancouver Chamber Choir Production Office Floods

Vancouver Chamber Choir Production Office Floods

Almost 48 years of Canadian music history were soaked and muddied after a pipe burst in the Vancouver Chamber Choir's Production Office early Friday morning, June 28. Owned by the City of Vancouver, Hodson Manor is the heritage house that the Choir has called home since the 1980s.

The Choir's administrative team arrived at work to find the basement office and archives under almost four feet of water. The office housed the majority of the organization's compositions, music scores, photos, and records from the foundation of the Choir, dating back to 1971.

Contents of the office continue to be sorted and catalogued by a restoration team, but it is still unknown if the archived documents can be salvaged. Insurance adjusters are advising on coverage for structural damage to the office space and contents, but questions remain about whether or not almost five decades' worth of irreplaceable Canadian music history has been lost.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir is responsible for 334 new choral works by 145 composers and arrangers, most of whom are Canadian - and all of which were documented in the archives. (There were about 4,000 Choir performances of works by Canadian composers.)

Executive Director Steven Bélanger said, "This flood is devastating, but we intend to salvage what we can and work diligently to move forward with the upcoming concert season, as planned. We are optimistic that we can pull through."

The flood occurred during a pivotal transition in the Choir's history. Founder and Artistic Director Jon Washburn was scheduled to retire from his post just two days after the flood. The Choir will be carried forward by the new leadership of both Bélanger and Artistic Director Kari Turunen, plus a small administrative team.

July and August are crucial months for planning. Bélanger said, "It is heartbreaking to lose momentum at this point in our transition process. We were hoping to spend this time producing concerts and onboarding our new Artistic Director for 2019-2020. We are excited about the upcoming season and, though this flood has brought our office to a temporary standstill, we remain dedicated to launching our 10-concert series this September.

"We are a not-for-profit organization and can't afford to replace what has been lost without strategic preparation. We still don't have complete access to our servers, computers, or functional office space. We hope that this event is just a bump on our historical timeline and all donations received will be put towards salvaging our archives and getting the organization ready for the season ahead."

About the Vancouver Chamber Choir

The Vancouver Chamber Choir is one of Canada's national treasures, an outstanding professional vocal ensemble noted for its diverse repertoire and performing excellence.

The Choir has performed to audiences at home in Vancouver and on tour across Canada since it was formed in 1971 by conductor Jon Washburn. International excursions have taken the choir to the USA, Mexico, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Honoured with the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence by Chorus America, the Vancouver Chamber Choir has to its credit countless performances and broadcasts, 32 recordings, and numerous awards. Foremost supporters of Canadian music, the choir has commissioned and premiered 334 new choral works by 145 composers and arrangers, most of whom are Canadian, in addition to their extensive international repertoire.

The Choir's award-winning educational programs include the National Conductors' Symposium for advanced choral conductors, Interplay Interactive Workshops for choral composers, the Focus! professional development program for student singers, OnSiteworkshops for school choirs, the biennial Young Composers' Competition, and many on-tour workshops and residencies.


The Vancouver Chamber Choir is a registered charity. If you wish to donate to assist with operating expenses, please visit CanadaHelps here or email Natalie Marshik at

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