The University of Ottawa Choir has been associated with the University for more than 90 years.
The Choir carries on a long-standing choral tradition at the University of Ottawa. It has its origins in a choir founded in 1931 by Fr. Conrad Latour, o.m.i., with the aim of reviving interest in Gregorian chant and training church soloists and choirmasters.
Its successor, the Schola Cantorum, created in 1939, undertook to foster interest in liturgical music. Then the Palestrina Choir, established in 1946, ensured the continued existence of choral singing on campus. This mixed voice group of about 80 people performed secular as well as sacred music. Its work was continued by the Collegium Musicum, founded in 1965.
In 1969 the Choir found a permanent home thanks to the late Françoys Bernier, the founding director of the University of Ottawa's then newly created Music Department (today’s School of Music). Under Mr. Bernier's leadership, the Choir took on works of increasing scope.
Over the past 50 years, the Choir has performed many major classical works dating from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Canadian works are also an important part of the ensemble's repertoire.
The Choir has made two recordings, and some of its concerts have been broadcast by the CBC, for example Invitation au Château in June 1997. It has also performed with professional orchestras, including Thirteen Strings, the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
In June 1993, the Choir completed a very successful tour in the south of France, under the direction of Laurence Ewashko. In July 1996, the Choir won first place in the mixed choir category at the International Choral Kathaumixw held in Powell River, British Columbia.
In June 2002, the Choir toured Alsace (France) where it presented concerts of Canadian music, and also sang in a Mass at the Strasbourg Cathedral. It received an invitation from the Russian Ministry of Culture and completed a very successful tour in Russia and the Ukraine in June 2006 and presented four concerts of North American music.
After 18 years as music director of the University of Ottawa Choir, Laurence Ewashko stepped down in December 2009.
Michel Guimont, well-known as choral director at Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Cathedral since 1991, became the choir's new music director in September 2010. Under Mr. Guimont’s guidance, the choir gave concerts in Ottawa and Montreal, in two instances with the collaboration of the Notre-Dame Cathedral choirs. In January 2014, the choir toured in Cuba where it joined two Cuban choirs for concerts in Havana.
In 2018, the choir welcomed Robert Filion as its musical director.