“As a proud participant in the Swiss Community, the Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir Association is dedicated to excellence in public performance of primarily Swiss music and the promotion of individual and collective growth in a welcoming atmosphere of camaraderie.”
“The ESMCA is dedicated to the preservation, presentation and creation of Swiss choral music to attract and encourage like-minded artists to join us in the beauty of song, harmony and friendship.”
Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir – 40 Years of Music 1980/81- 2020/21
The concept of a Swiss Male Chorus was founded at an annual Landsgemeinde near Stettler, Alberta in June of 1980 by 10 Swiss compatriots, three of whom still sing with the Choir. In June of 1981 the Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir Association was incorporated in Alberta; founding members were Erwin Baumann, John Buhler, Robert Fierz, Peter Gertsch, Thomas Huwiler, Peter Johner, Hermann Knupp, Werner Merlo, Peter Scholl and Karl Strickler.
In the fall of 1980 rehearsals began at the Edelweiss Club and new members were recruited from the Swiss community. A director, Dan Breda, was hired and music was obtained from Switzerland and so it began.
Fundraising was needed so the Choir held a Springfest and a Winzerfest. With six Swiss chefs in the group, selling tickets for the meal and dance was never difficult. These events were sold out successes and looked forward to by so many.
The Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir has travelled and performed across Canada, made 6 concert tours of Switzerland and one concert tour of South America. They have also travelled and performed in the United States as members of the North American Swiss Singing Alliance (NASSA) and as regular guests at festivals of the United Swiss Singing Societies of the Pacific Coast (USSSPC). In addition to participating in many national and international events the ESMC has performed throughout Edmonton and Alberta.
There have been 181 singers involved with the choir to date. The ESMC has had only 3 conductors (Dan Breda, Faye Breda, Elizabeth Lesoway-Anderson) during its existence. There have been 4 accompanists and 1 assistant conductor. Elizabeth has led the choir now for some 34 years.
The Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir has been instrumental in enhancing Swiss Culture locally and internationally and has been proud to represent Switzerland and the Swiss people wherever the choir has travelled. They make one proud to be Swiss.
The Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir is a group of approximately 30 male singers based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who perform TTBB music. The ensemble undertakes numerous engagements close to home, but has performed and competed abroad in the USA, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, France, Switzerland and Italy (2016 was the choir’s sixth tour through parts of Switzerland plus the participation at the 19th International Choir Festival Alta Pusteria, South Tyrol).
The Choir was formed in 1980 when a group of the “Swiss abroad” who were living in the Edmonton area decided to establish an organized structure within which they could pursue their shared joy of singing. The idea originated during the Alberta Landsgemeinde, an annual celebration held in the tradition of the historic assembly at which the Swiss exercise their democratic rights and obligations. On August 2nd, 2012 the choir amalgamated with the Swiss Ethnic Music Association to form the Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir Association (ESMCA) pursuant to the Alberta Societies Act.
The ESMCA is part of the North American Swiss Singing Alliance (NASSA) and in 2000 we hosted the Sängerfest for the first time in the organization’s 100 plus year history. As frequent guest of the United Swiss Singing Societies of the Pacific Coast (USSSPC), the ESMCA has been instrumental in bringing both North American organizations together for many events.
Often considered ambassadors of the Swiss community, Swiss culture and Swiss ethnic music, the Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir Association is active throughout the Edmonton area. The choir is proud to continue to strive for musical excellence while supporting community fundraisers and a variety of cultural events.
At the 2012 Winzerfest the ESMCA had the privilege to welcome as special guests, the Consul General of Switzerland, Mr. Urs Strausak and Ms. Martina Feil from Vancouver, the Honorary Swiss Consul Dr. Andreas Bayer and wife Yolanda from Calgary, as well as Mr. Michael Zaugg, the new Artistic Director & Principal Conductor for Pro Coro Canada. Also in attendance were the former Swiss Ethnic Music Association Executives.
One of our highlights was the commissioning of the song “Das Heimatland” from the Canadian composer Allan Bevan. The Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir is very proud to have been able to dedicate this composition to our late friend and enthusiastic supporter, Gabrielle Voegeli.
The launching of the Erwin Baumann Scholarship Program with the presentation of the first award to Nial Gorman, our alp-horn player (son of our member Doug Gorman), was a further highlight of the evening.
On June 21st, 2015 at the Sängerfest of the North American Swiss Singing Alliance (NASSA) in New Glarus WI, the choir was awarded the Gold medal for the prayer song “Vater Unser” by Kurt Müller.
In the fall time, we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate at Pro Coro Canada’s 35th anniversary celebration concert “I See Fire” under the very inspiring leadership of Maestro Michael Zaugg, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor.
June 16th to July 2nd, 2016: The choir completed for the 6th time a concert tour through Switzerland and South Tyrol. We are very thankful to the choirs in Wallisellen, Engelburg, Sernez and Flüelen for hosting us for a very memorable time with singing, eating and drinking. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness. A special Thank You goes out also to the members from MC Engelburg for inviting us to their homes, and to Victorinox for inviting us to visit their factory and for the gifts we received.
Our Music Director
Elizabeth Lesoway Anderson has directed the ESMCA since 1987. Under her direction the choir has made an enormous leap forward, found and refined its style and greatly broadened its repertoire. On July 1, 2000 she conducted the massed choir of SWISS FESTIVAL 2000 as Edmonton hosted this international celebration of music.
Elizabeth is a retired elementary school music specialist with the St. Albert Catholic School Board, and since 1980 has been musical director of the parish choir of St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Edmonton.
At the Winzerfest November 3rd, 2012, Elizabeth received the “Con Spirito Award” from the Alberta Choral Federation for her enthusiastic spirit in promoting choral music. The Con Spirito Award recognizes the spirit and dedication of individuals and their commitment to choral music in their local community.
Congratulations and thank you very much Elizabeth for your 25 years of dedication to our choir. Without you— we would not be where we are today!
One of our longstanding members, Hans Voegeli has led the Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir as its president since 2006. In the process he has displayed the diplomacy he developed over his many years as Maitre d’hotel at several of Edmonton’s best restaurants, a career that started with his graduation from Hotel School Lucerne, Switzerland. His experience with recalcitrant horses that he rode as a member of the Swiss Cavalry has also been helpful in maintaining firm direction of the choir while using only a delicate touch on the reins.
Hans has enjoyed making and maintaining contact with the many friends of the choir, among the Swiss abroad in Canada and in the USA, as well as those choir friends in Switzerland, made during several tours there.