ABOUT US

Our Mission

The Okanagan Festival Singers’ Mission is to provide opportunities in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley for the performance, appreciation and enjoyment of choral music. We will promote, organize and encourage choral music through performance of choral works and in the presentation of choral concerts, bringing the experience of great choral music to the Okanagan.

Established in 1986 under the direction of Leroy Wiens, the OFS has developed into one of the foremost choral ensembles in the BC Interior. They have created their own unique place in the hearts of Okanagan audiences with their performances of Handel’s Messiah and other baroque masterpieces.

TAMI HARKER ~
MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Tami Harker, recently appointed as the new music director of Kelowna’s own Okanagan Festival Singers, is enjoying working with and getting to know this enthusiastic group of quality singers. She currently also the conductor of the Vita Nova Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra located in the North Okanagan.  She has directed many high school, church and community choirs throughout her career such as the Delta Community Choir, Angelicus Children’s Choir, Tapestry young adult ensemble, and AURA Chamber Choir.  She has also been a vocal coach, voice instructor, and pre-Covid worked with local Vernon choirs such as Counterpoint and the OSO Chorus.  With a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education from UBC, Tami has always been invested in teaching others to connect emotionally to music.  She enjoyed very much the two years spent with AURA learning from Imant Raminsh and looks forward to learning from Leroy Wiens’ legacy with OFS in the coming year.   Tami has enjoyed collaborating with local high school ensembles as well as working with past members of the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra and she hopes that the audience will have an uplifting musical experience when attending the upcoming “An Okanagan Christmas” concert.  

LEROY WIENS ~
FOUNDER (RETIRED)

Leroy Wiens, now retired, was the founding conductor of the Okanagan Festival Singers. Under his direction for over 30 years, this auditioned Okanagan based choir developed into one of the premier choirs in the B.C. interior.

Leroy earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon. He has studied with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival, and noted Canadian conductors William Baerg, James Fankhauser and Wayne Riddel. He also earned undergraduate degrees from the University of British Columbia (Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education) and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Winnipeg.

Leroy has guest conducted for the Okanagan International Festival of the Arts, Viva Musica, Kelowna Mozart Festival and the B.C. Choral Society. As founding conductor of the Kelowna Community Chorus, he directed this one-hundred voice non-auditioned choir for 20 years. He also has led numerous church choirs and has held the position of Assistant Conductor with the Vancouver Cantata Singers.

In 2010 he was the recipient of the Arts Educator award from the Central Okanagan Arts Foundation for excellence in arts education. He recently retired as a music specialist from the Central Okanagan School District.

Our History

The OFS was founded by Leroy Wiens in the spring of 1986 for a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Elmer Iseler Singers of Toronto. This was such a wonderful experience that the choir decided to continue and has been making inspired music ever since. Our dedicated, auditioned members attend weekly rehearsals from as far south as Penticton and north to Vernon, and all points in between.

The OFS repertoire includes large classical works, such as Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and Haydn’s Creation, to name but a few. The choir also performs many a cappella pieces, music by Canadian composers, and musical works from the 14th to the 21st Centuries. Special concerts for children include a Children’s Messiah complete with puppets and opportunities to sing along, and Handel’s The King Shall Rejoice complete with coronation!

For the past several years, the OFS has participated in regional choral festivals and community events. OFS has shared the stage with other choirs, such as the Amabilis Singers from Vancouver, the Yume Women’s Choir from Japan, and Serious Options of Kamloops. In June 2017 they hosted the internationally celebrated Elektra women’s choir from Vancouver.

Musical Director

  • Tami Harker

Choir Manager

  • Hui Ling Son

Board of Directors

  • Christopher Gordon, President
  • Mike Deyholos, Vice-President
  • Suzen Marshall, Treasurer
  • Kathryn Lockhart, Secreatry
  • Bill Power, Member-at-Large