Over the past 20 years, 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 17 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 is a three-time recipient of 1st Prize in the mixed-voice adult choir category.
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.
QVE's emphasis on choral education includes engagement with younger singers through initiatives such as school workshops, and the annual QVE Bellamy-Sesk Memorial Bursary. The choir is committed to promoting the province's culture and choral singing through recurring performances in smaller communities around the province, as well as touring abroad, and commissioning of new work by Newfoundland and Labrador composers.