For close to two decades, Ensemble Laude women’s choir has enchanted audiences on Vancouver Island with its creative blend of medieval repertoire and contemporary choral works from around the world. Ensemble Laude is a community of women united by a passion for choral music and the vision of our Artistic Director, Elizabeth MacIsaac. We celebrate the beauty and resilience of women’s vocal traditions through the ages and seek to share this art form through joyful, soulful, and life-enhancing performances that gladden the heart, lift the spirit, and expand the mind. Ensemble Laude began in 1998 with a group of 12 singers focused solely on medieval music. It has since expanded into a vibrant community choir of over 50 vocalists. Today, our concerts offer an eclectic repertoire, mostly unaccompanied, encompassing early music, sacred and secular works, and folk and world music. We are committed to expanding choral repertoire for women’s voices and regularly commission new Canadian works that preserve and revitalize early-music themes within contemporary settings. As an auditioned community choir, Ensemble Laude provides opportunities for women and girls from a wide range of backgrounds to perform at a high level of excellence. Soloists and smaller ensembles are a strong feature of our work as is the choir’s creative approach to concert presentation and the use of physical space. In recent years, the choir has been recognized with first-place awards at the Victoria Performing Arts Festival and Performing Arts BC, first and second-place awards at the 2012 International Choral Kathaumixw, and numerous voters’ choice awards for best choral and classical music group from Victoria’s Monday Magazine. Ensemble Laude won second place in Equal Voice in the 2015 CBC Choral Competition, and in 2016 travelled to France to represent Canada at the international Choralies festival in Vaison-la-Romaine.

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Elizabeth MacIsaac has directed choirs for more than 25 years in Canada, USA, and France, and is the Artistic Director of the Canadian women’s choir Ensemble Laude. She is deeply involved in the international choral community, travelling widely to attend global choral conferences as a presenter and choral clinician. MacIsaac lived in Paris for many years, directing choirs and free-lance performing as an early music specialized soprano. Upon her return to Canada, MacIsaac joined the faculty of the Victoria Conservatory of Music. She is currently completing her DMA at the University of Washington, Seattle. For her distinguished service and support of choral music in British Columbia, MacIsaac recently received the prestigious Herbert Drost Award from the BCCF. In 2016, MacIsaac was the recipient of a CFUW Fellowship. She is profoundly committed to commissioning and performing works by contemporary composers. MacIsaac is especially recognized for her work in bringing medieval song repertoire into the realm of community choirs. 

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Carolyn Howe is Ensemble Laude’s Associate Director. Elizabeth MacIsaac is undertaking her doctorate in Choral Conducting in Seattle at the University of Washington and returns to Victoria to work with Laude singers every other week. To help carry the load, Carolyn Howe brings her talent as a director, warm personality, and beautiful singing voice to the choir. Carolyn Howe received her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Victoria, and has long been an active member of Victoria’s music community. In 2006, Carolyn joined Hexaphone, a collaborative chamber ensemble of six voices, specializing in unaccompanied repertoire sung one voice to a part. Highlights of her work with Hexaphone included performing in the Victoria Symphony New Currents Festival of Music, at the Voice ++ Festival at Open Space, premiering BC 150 Project: Five Songs For BC, and winning the Elmer Iseler Prize in 2012 at the International Choral Kathaumixw. From 2006-2014, Carolyn was choral director of the Mood Swing Chorus for the Friends of Music Society, a partnership program for people with mental illness and members of the wider community. In addition, she is recognized as an outstanding children’s music educator. Since 2005 Carolyn has been the music teacher at South Park Elementary, a fine-arts-focused school in Victoria, where she teaches a general music program, and directs two award-winning children’s choirs.