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Shoshana Wasser

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Elaine Choi receives 2023 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting

December 6, 2023

Today the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) announced that Dr. Elaine Choi is the recipient of the 2023 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting. Elaine will receive the award at the Pax Christi Chorale’s Christmas Through the Ages concert, which she is conducting, at Eglinton St. George's United Church in Toronto on Saturday, December 9 at 4 p.m.

Elaine Choi

  • Dr. Elaine Choi is the director of music at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, artistic director of Pax Christi Chorale and founder & artistic director of Babεl, a SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choral ensemble with a mission to bridge cultures through choral music.
  • As a music educator, Elaine was the conductor of the University of Toronto Soprano-Alto Chorus (formerly Women’s Chorus) from 2015 to 2023. Elaine is now a freelance consultant and guest conductor for various public schools, universities and community choirs.
  • Elaine is an adjudicator and clinician for various community events, such as the 2023 Junior Treble Festival, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) music festival, the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, the Ontario Music Festivals Association (OMFA) provincial festival, the Canadian Amateur Musicians / Musiciens amateurs du Canada (CAMMAC) reading sessions, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Singsation Saturdays. In 2022, Elaine was the guest clinician of the Bangkok International Choral Festival in Thailand. Coming up this season, Elaine is the guest clinician of the 2024 Windsor Choral Festival.Elaine is an advocate for Chinese orchestral and choral music. She was the conductor of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra from 2010 to 2017 and now serves as an advisory consultant and educational outreach representative.
  • Elaine holds a doctorate in musical arts and a master’s in music performance (choral conducting) from the University of Toronto and was the 2018 recipient of the prestigious William and Phyllis Waters graduating award.
  • Elaine is a four-time recipient of the Elmer Iseler Fellowship in Choral Conducting (2008, 2009, 2014, 2015) and a finalist in the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Award in Choral Conducting (2012). 
Elaine Choi
Elaine Choi (Photo: Emily Ding Photography)


The jury that chose Elaine Choi as the 2023 laureate for the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting said: "Elaine's commitment to intercultural repertoire and commissioning of new composers is groundbreaking. She founded an innovative new choir, Babεl, whose mandate reflects our current time and place. Thoughtful work such as this will help to ensure the growth of the choral community.” They also highlighted her leadership of Choirs Ontario and the Podium conference.  

About the Leslie Bell Prize For Choral Conducting

  • The $10,000 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting is awarded every two years to an emerging professional conductor who is a resident of Ontario and works with a professional, semi-professional or community choir.
  • The prize is made possible by a financial contribution from the Leslie Bell Scholarship Fund and the OAC. The scholarship fund, administered by OAC, was established in 1973 by the Leslie Bell Singers and friends of the late Dr. Leslie Bell.
  • The winner was chosen through a nominating and adjudication process managed by the OAC. This year’s jury comprised Adam Adler (Callander), Charissa Bagan (Toronto) and Jamie Loback (Ottawa).
  • Previous winners include Charlene Pauls (2018), Mark Vuorinen (2016), and Rachel Rensink-Hoff (2014). Complete list of past Leslie Bell Prize recipients