Competition for Choral Writing ​

Choral Canada encourages and supports the composition of new choral works by Canadian composers. Winners and honourable mentions were selected by a blind jury of esteemed choral artists from across the country.

Stay tuned for more information and 2024 updates.


Winners of the 2022 Competition for Choral Writing:

Nicholas Kelly

"Wind Rising in the Alleys"
Recipient of the 2022 Diane Loomer Award

Mari Alice Conrad

"At First Light"
​Recipient of the 2022 Stephen Chatman Student Award

The jury would also like to give honourable mentions to Edward Enman for his submission to the Diane Loomer Award competition with his composition Where Light is Possible and Benjamin Sigerson for his submission to the Stephen Chatman Student Award competition with his composition What Gentle Stardust, Now Falling​.

A special thank you to our anonymous jury members for their time and expertise in reviewing the numerous submissions of the 2022 Competition for Choral Writing.

Learn More

The competition includes two categories:

  1. The Diane Loomer Award , co-sponsored by Cypress Choral Music – open to any Canadian choral composer
  2. The Stephen Chatman Award – open to any Canadian undergraduate or graduate student choral composer 

The competition will be judged by a national jury of Canadian choral conductors and composers. All competing composers will receive constructive written feedback from a juror. The jury may select up to three honorable mentions per category. 

Nicholas Kelly + Mari Alice Conrad

Nicholas Kelly

Composition: Wind Rising in the Alleys​ with text by Lola Ridge

Commended by the Vancouver Sun for his "sophisticated work of such immediate, glittery appeal" and called "a rising star in the constellation of Canadian composers" by Oregon Arts Watch, Nicholas Ryan Kelly writes choral, wind ensemble, and chamber music infused with a sense of cinematic drama.

Since 2016, he has won nearly 20 national and international competitions for wind band and (mostly) choral writing, including the Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize and the Howard Cable Prize from the Canadian Band Association. His music has been performed by most of Western Canada's top choirs, including the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Chor Leoni, Elektra Women's Choir, and Pro Coro Canada. His 2022 commissions include Chronos Vocal Ensemble, the Vancouver Men's Chorus, and the DaCapo Chamber Choir.

A graduate of the music composition programs at Ithaca College (New York) and the University of British Columbia, Nick lives in BC's beautiful Okanagan Valley, where he is involved in many small-town musical activities as a conductor and teacher.

A note from the jury:
A well-crafted choral work, Wind Rising in the Alleys, contains the perfect balance of rhythmic vitality, beautiful melodic line, and harmonic surprise. The piano accompaniment is substantial but never overwhelming and acts as a collaborative partner to the choir - a vocal extension of the SATB texture. The text is meaningful and filled with hopeful images that shares a timely message for our world.


Mari Alice Conrad

Composition: At First Light with text by Anna Marie Sewell

Mari Alice Conrad is an emerging, award-winning composer near Edmonton, Alberta currently studying graduate work in music composition at the University of Alberta. She has composed works for ensembles and performers across Canada including Babɛl Choir (Toronto), Standing Wave Ensemble (Vancouver), Exultate Chamber Singers (Toronto), the Allegra Chamber Orchestra (Vancouver), the SHHH!! Ensemble (Ottawa), Edmonton Winds (Edmonton), Soprano Maghan McPhee and pianist Valerie Dueck (Ottawa), Allen Stiles (Vancouver), Pro Coro Canada (Edmonton), and has mentored young composers through the Tuckamore Widening the Circle Program (Newfoundland).                                                             

Recent performances of her works were featured at Ottawa Chamberfest, Vancouver’s Allegra Chamber Orchestra FestivELLE, Toronto’s East Chamber Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the New Music Edmonton Summer Solstice Festival. Mari Alice’s compositional practice shines an exceptional light on the human condition and fosters curiosity, authenticity, connection, and collaboration.  Her honest and intuitive compositional voice creates a compelling experience for both performers and audiences.

A note from the jury:
I was completely drawn to this music because of the text. How exciting for a young composer to collaborate with an established poet to create this choral piece. This composer uses word painting, dissonant harmonies, and aleatoric techniques to capture the attention of both the singer and the audience.

Prize Details

The Diane Loomer Award is open to any Canadian choral composer. The winner will receive:

  • the Diane Loomer Award of $1500
  • a publishing opportunity through Cypress Choral Music
  • a performance by the National Youth Choir of Canada, on tour and at PODIUM national choral conference and festival.
  • a feature article about the composer in Choral Canada’s national choral journal Anacrusis 
  • promotion on Choral Canada’s website and social media​​.

About the Diane Loomer Award:

This important Choral Canada program would not be possible without the generosity of the beloved late Diane Loomer. Internationally recognized as one of Canada’s finest musicians and the first woman to conduct the National Youth Choir of Canada, Diane and Dick Loomer founded Cypress Choral Music in 1988. In 1999, they partnered with Choral Canada to present the first edition of this competition. Today, Diane’s legacy in the Canadian choral community lives on through the Diane Loomer Award, sponsored by Cypress Choral Music.

Past Diane Loomer Award Winners
1996 - Ramona Luengen - Stabat Mater
​2000 - Allan Bevan - Ave Maria
2000 - Ramona Luengen - Mésange
2002 - Michael Unger - Sea Song 
2004 - Allan Bevan - Echo
2004 - Jeff Smallman - Brier
2006 - Allan Bevan - Harp of Wild
2008 - Brian Tate - Africa
2010 - Lavinia Parker - Songs are Thoughts
2010 - Donald Patriquin - Scottish Contrasts
2012 - Elise Letourneau - Peace Prayer
2014 - Matthew Emery - The Lover’s Chant 
2016 - Benjamin Bolden - Tread Softly 
2018 - Sheldon Rose - Will You Fare On, My Song?
2020 - Kevin Pirker - She Walks in Beauty 
2022 - Nicholas Kelly - Wind Rising in the Alleys


Thank you to Cypress Choral Music for co-sponsoring the 2022 Diane Loomer Award.


The Stephen Chatman Student Award is open to any Canadian student or any student currently studying in Canada. The winner will receive:

  • the Stephen Chatman Student Award of $1000
  • a performance by a choir/singing group in Canada
  • complimentary student membership with Choral Canada (valid for one year from the date of the award)
  • a feature article about the composer in Choral Canada’s national choral journal Anacrusis
  • promotion on Choral Canada’s website and social media

About the Stephen Chatman Student Award:

Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Stephen Chatman and Tara Wohlberg, the Stephen Chatman Student Award has been raised to $1,000 in 2022.

​A message from Stephen Chatman:

"It is an honour and a pleasure to support the 2022 National Competition for Choral Writing's Stephen Chatman Student Award. I congratulate Mari Alice Conrad, Winner, and Benjamin Sigerson, Honorable Mention and am so pleased that PODIUM will present a performance of Mari Alice's work, At First Light. Having benefited enormously from composing many choral works and having collaborated with numerous outstanding choirs, directors and publishers, it is both my wish and my obligation to reciprocate: to support Canadian composition students and to contribute to the Canadian choral community. As a teacher of a "generation of prominent Canadian composers" (Order of Canada), most of whom have written choral music, I believe that the Chatman Student Award is the perfect vehicle to encourage and foster the development of choral composition within our educational institutions. Although I am unable to attend PODIUM this year, my heart and soul will be present."

Banner photos: Sam Moffatt Photography