Founded in 1993, the Quintessential Vocal Ensemble (QVE) has become recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished amateur choirs, bringing together more than 40 singers from the thriving musical community of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Its members encompass a range of experienced singers, instrumentalists, music teachers, students, and professionals of diverse backgrounds, with a love for eclectic and engaging repertoire and an exceptional standard of performance. The choir is known especially for its a cappella repertoire of many styles and periods (works by contemporary composers, Renaissance, Romantic, folk/traditional, spirituals, pop/jazz). In recent years, QVE has also taken on major classical works and collaborated in large-scale productions for symphony and stage.
The choir has amassed 19 awards to date in numerous national and world competitions. QVE was the first Canadian choir to win the mixed choir category of the historic Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales; the first Canadian choir to compete at the renowned Florilège Vocal de Tours in France, where it captured the Renaissance category and Prix du Ministère de la Culture; and was awarded 2nd Prize at the Cork International Choral Festival in Ireland as one of ten world choirs invited to compete. At home, in the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs, QVE's awards include three times as recipient of 1st Prize in the mixed-voice adult choir category; 1st Prize in the Contemporary Music category; and the prize for best performance of a Canadian work.
The choir has recorded three CDs: Ave Maris Stella, a treasury of motets and spirituals from the past 150 years, released in 2001 and nominated for Classical Recording of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards; A Quintessential Christmas, released in 2003; and most recently, and if you close your eyes, in 2006. In May 2014, QVE received a standing ovation after its solo debut on the main stage of Carnegie Hall in New York, when it premiered Leonard Enns’ “As On Wings”, commissioned by QVE to commemorate the response of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in aid of the thousands of trans-Atlantic airline travellers diverted to the province following the attacks of 9/11.
The choir is committed to promoting the province's culture and choral singing through educational outreach with younger singers, recurring performances in smaller communities around the province, as well as touring abroad, and commissioning of new work by Newfoundland and Labrador composers.
Susan Quinn, Conductor/Artistic Director
Susan Quinn taught music and directed the award-winning choral ensembles at Holy Heart High School in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada for nearly 30 years. She received her early musical education from the Sisters of Mercy and was once herself a student at Holy Heart, where her musical experiences included singing in the choir and playing in the school orchestra. She has degrees in Music and Music Education from Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a major in violin, and a Master's degree in choral conducting from the University of Maine, and has studied conducting under artists such as Wayne Riddell, Robert Cooper, James Croft, John Haberlen and Dennis Cox. She has presented and published with the Canadian Music Educators Association as a recognized expert in choral intonation, and is in demand across Canada as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor, and locally as a Suzuki violin instructor and vocal coach in musical theatre. Susan is a recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence from the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Memorial University Arts in Education Award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. Her choirs have received numerous national awards and honours at international competitions in Ireland, Wales, Austria, and France.