Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal Awarded to
Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff
By Chelsea Clogg
March 24, 2003 - When it comes to choral conducting, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff's students have something to sing about. Ratzlaff has been involved with choral music almost his entire life. And recently, the University of Alberta choral conducting professor and director of the award-winning University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for his contributions to the growth of choral music in Canada.
Under Ratzlaff's direction, the Madrigal Singers choir, which has grown from 15 members in 1982 to more than 40 members today, has been a frequent finalist in the CBC Competition for Amateur Choirs and has participated in a number of international competitions.
"My favourite memory of directing the Madrigal Singers is when we won our first international competition in Zwickau, Germany in 1995. It was our first international competition, and we won," said Ratzlaff.
In addition to his duties with the Madrigal Singers, Ratzlaff also co-supervises the U of A's graduate program in choral conducting. The program is one of the few active graduate programs of its kind in Canada. Ratzlaff points out that many of the conductors who have trained at the U of A have gone on to take positions internationally.
While this may already seem like a heavy load, the list doesn't stop there. One of Ratzlaff's main activities outside his work at the university is directing the Richard Eaton Singers. This 150-member choral ensemble is the largest in the city and performs regularly with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In 2000, he was invited to direct the National Youth Choir, an honour choir made up of 17- to 25-year-olds from across the country.
"[Ratzlaff] has provided leadership at the national level and was very active in the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors (ACCC) for many years," said John Mahon, president of the Edmonton Arts Council. "He is a leader and has been for many years. He has excellent musical skills, immense personal skills and has inspired many choral singers, choral conductors, and choral composers."
For these many contributions to choral music, Ratzlaff was honoured with the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in October 2002. The ceremony was presided over by Senator Tommy Banks, and Ratzlaff was among 20 Canadians honoured by the senator.
The medal was awarded to those Canadians, who over the past 50 years, have helped create the Canada of today and who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to the community or to Canada as a whole. Ratzlaff's work in the area of choral music makes the honour deserving, Mahon added, because, "while his work has been primarily in Edmonton, his impact has been national. This has brought appropriate recognition to Edmonton."
The University of Alberta Department of Music web site:
The University of Alberta Madrigal Singers web site:
The Edmonton Arts Council web site: