Music Director and Conductor
Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff
Leonard Ratzlaff, music director of the Richard Eaton Singers, is Professor of Choral Music at the University of Alberta, where he co-supervises the largest graduate program in choral conducting in Canada. He was born in Alberta, and holds a Bachelor of Church Music (Mennonite Brethren College of Arts, Winnipeg), Bachelor of Arts (University of Winnipeg), Master of Arts (University of Iowa) and Doctor of Musical Arts (University of Iowa). Dr. Ratzlaff also conducts the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, with whom he has won numerous awards, the most recent being first prize in the biennial CBC Radio Choral Competition (university choir category).
He is a frequent clinician and adjudicator, and has guest-conducted numerous Canadian ensembles, including the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Pro Coro Canada, and the Winnipeg Singers. A strong supporter of Canadian music, Dr. Ratzlaff has conducted premières of works by a number of Canadian composers, including Allan Bevan, Malcolm Forsyth, Allan Gilliland, Imant Raminsh, Sidney Robinovitch, James Rolfe and Mark Sirett.
Dr. Ratzlaff has been active in the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, for which he served a six-year term as vice-president, president and past-president (1992-98). In 2000, he conducted the National Youth Choir/Choeur National des Jeunes, a select group of young singers from across Canada. He sang in numerous projects in North America and Europe with the late renowned conductor, Robert Shaw.
Dr. Ratzlaff's many contributions to the cultural life of Canada have been recognized with a number of major awards. In 2001, he was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was presented with a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, and awarded the Alberta Choral Federation's highest honour, the Richard Eaton Award of Distinction for Exemplary Service to Choral Music in Alberta. In 2003, he was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence (the highest honour bestowed by the province), and in 2004 was appointed to the Order of Canada.
In 2006 the Choir celebrated 25 years under the leadership of Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff. The year 1981 was one of celebration for the Richard Eaton Singers. Not only could they look back on 30 years of bringing great choral performances to Edmonton’s audiences , but they also welcomed Leonard Ratzlaff as their new Music Director. And today, in 2006, we are lucky enough to continue our tradition of performing the great works of the choral repertoire under his leadership. There are very few major musical organizations that can claim such lasting relationships. Obviously, a good reason to celebrate again! For his 25th Anniversary performance, Dr. Ratzlaff chose “The Dream of Gerontius” by Edward Elgar. This is one of the grand works of the oratorio tradition, performed for the first time in the year 1900. In the performance on April 30, 2006, the Choir was jointed by tenor Scot Weir as Gerontius, and mezzo-soprano Kimberley Barber and baritone Daniel Lichti and tThe Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.