Central Region

The CMCA board continues to meet to plan and organize the main events slated for the Central Region this fall, namely, the Senior and Junior School Choral Workshops, the Central Manitoba Youth Choir, CMYC’s tour itinerary, and the annual Jazz Workshop. Central Manitoba Choral Association, a group of dedicated volunteers, has successfully presented these choral programs for the past thirty-five years to promote and enhance choral music in the Central Region.

In addition, many community choirs prepared and presented winter and spring concerts in the past year, including the Morden/Winkler-based Prairie Singers under the direction of Marilyn Houser-Hamm, the Southern Manitoba Choral Society under the direction of Madeline Friesen, Carman’s Sonatrice Singers directed by Brenda Doell and Animato directed by Margaret Gluck. Also presenting concerts have been The Winkler Community Men’s Choir, directed by Ray Giesbrecht, Winkler-based Homeschool Harmony, directed by Rochelle and Kayla Drudge, Winkler Senior Choir, directed by Wes Hamm, and Manitou-area Borderline Singers, which reunited under the direction of Loretta Thorleifson for spring festival performances. The Winkler area is also home to a new choral initiative, Prairie Soundscape, founded by Melanie Urichuk and the late Karen Giesbrecht. A seasonal Middle Years choir has been running for the past two years, and a new choir for singers ages 18-30 joined the roster last year.  This non-auditioned, free-of-charge choir provides additional singing opportunities for students who are already in school or other choirs, or perhaps do not have another choir to sing in.  

The Central Region was also happy to welcome two middle school choirs of the Pembina Trails Voices Group - Ragazzi (directed by Alisa Wiebe) and Chorale (directed by Monika Lukomski) on their spring tour in early May.  The choirs delighted audiences in Winkler, Morden and Manitou over a three-day period.

CMCA would like to recognize and thank Mary Siemens for her many years of service to our region and to MCA.  Mary joined them in 1995, and has recently chosen to step back from committee responsibilities. Enjoy your family, your travels, and the new-found extra time, Mary, and thank you so much for your time, dedication, and attention to detail over the years!  

Prairie Soundscape

A new community young adult choir, Prairie Soundscape, founded by the late Karen Giesbrecht and under the direction of Melanie Urichuk, is underway in its second season. Having long felt that this was a need in the area, the choir, ages 18-25, was formed to give young adults from the Winkler/Morden region a place to sing after graduation. Prairie Soundscape is dedicated to creating choral experiences that feed the soul, build community and create expressions of joy in personal and collective musical excellence. Their season will run from April through June. A strong media presence has been launched and a PR campaign is being undertaken to build membership. Be sure to check out their lively Facebook page!

Prairie Soundscape 2018 performs at the PW Enns Centennial Hall, Winkler

Prairie Soundscape 2018 performs at the PW Enns Centennial Hall, Winkler

Southern Manitoba Choral Society

This community based choir, comprised of singers from across southern Manitoba, has been in existence for a number of decades. The choir is under the direction of Madeleine Friesen, with Loren Hiebert at the piano. They have a spring and a fall season in which rehearsals are held once a week, with each season ending in two concerts.

Central Region Vocal Jazz Workshop
Feb. 14, 2019

February’s annual Vocal Jazz Workshop was a rousing success once again, with the expertise of clinicians Stacy Nattress and Alisa Wiebe well received and enjoyed. There were seven groups, with participating singers from St. Claude, Manitou, Morden and Winkler. The concert at the Manitou Opera House was well attended as students performed for each other in their school groups, receiving helpful onstage adjudication, and rotating through breakout workshops on the topics of “Song Circles”, “Vocal Jazz Improvisation”, and “Sound Systems and Microphone Technique”.  It was a great day of learning, connecting, and building choral community among the Junior and Senior High singers. Organizers for the day were Al and Loretta Thorleifson, and Karen Giesbrecht, president of CMCA. All enthused about the day, and plans for next year are already taking shape.


The Central Manitoba Youth Choir is pleased to welcome Philip Lapatha as their conductor for 2019. Philip is a choral specialist at Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg, together with Dorothy Dyck, last year’s CYMC conductor. He and Dorothy were recent co-winners of the Wpg. Music Festival’s Michael J. Proudfoot Award, presented annually to a conductor exemplifying passion for choral excellence. CMYC’s super-pianist, Loren Hiebert, returns to the piano in his 14th year with this choir! The first rehearsal camp has taken place and they look forward to meeting up again in October. Read more about CMYC and the choir’s singing adventures at http://centralmca.weebly.com.

CMYC 2019

CMYC 2019

Central Tour poster.jpg

Thursday, October 17: The Senior School Choral Workshop will be held at Mennonite Collegiate in Gretna. The Grade 9/10 choir will be conducted by Roberta Matheson, and the Grade 11/12 choir will be conducted by Dorothy Dyck.
Monday, October 21: The Junior School Choral Workshop will be held in Holland with guest clinicians Marla Fontaine (Grade 5), Andrea Wicha (Grade 6), and Valdine Anderson (Grades 7/8).

A few pictures from 2018:
Senior Choir directed by Vic Pankratz
Grade 9/10 Choir directed by Kristel Peters
Junior Choir directed by Millie Hildebrand


CMYC Tour.jpg



CMYC 2017 poster


Central Manitoba Youth Choir (CMYC) 2016 Concert Dates


Central Manitoba Youth Choir 2013

Submitted by Loretta Thorleifson

In October of 2013, fifty excited and talented young singers from across the Central Region combined forces with conductor Stuart Sladden and accompanist Loren Hiebert to embark on the 29th tour of the Central Manitoba Youth Choir. A project of the Central Manitoba Choral Association, CMYC once again provided an opportunity to build a strong community among the young singers of the region, as they shared their music in fourteen communities across the region.

The singers prepared for the tour with two intensive weekend rehearsals at Circle Square Ranch, where they sang, ate, sang, rode horses, sang, slept, sang, and had talent nights where they – you guessed it – sang. Sladden connected immediately with the group as they built a powerful and energetic program, while Hiebert, a much loved fixture in the group by now, worked his magic at the piano. Many parent chaperones and committee members chipped in to make these weekends run smoothly.

The tour ran from October 17 – 21, and began in Portage la Prairie (Senior School Choral Workshop), continuing to Gladstone, and Elm River Hutterite Colony, where the group was treated to a tour of the community. They continued on for a much celebrated return to the Manitou Opera House, Pilot Mound, and Pembina Valley Provincial Park, where a highlight was singing around the outdoor Stone Circle at the Arocha site. Then it was on to Carman, Morden, Elm Creek, Winkler and Altona. The final day featured performances in Morris, where the choir had not performed for many years, Elie, and finally St. Francois Xavier (Junior School Workshop), where they departed amidst a flurry of tears, smiles, hugs, and promises to meet again.

Tour manager Al Thorleifson and Chaperone Cynthia Mayo kept the tour machine running smoothly, fueled by the wonderful music and delicious meals served by communities along the way. Many people opened up their homes to billet the singers for night, providing the singers and staff with bag lunches, and following the choir around to take in multiple performances.

The Central Manitoba Choral Association would like to thank everyone who helped to make this tour a success, including parents, teachers, committee members, billeters, audience members, and our many generous donors. The Central Manitoba Choral Association is proud of the Central Manitoba Youth Choir – they are representative of our region’s choral future, and judging by this year, it is in good hands!


Postcards created by Morris School students after seeing the choir.

CMCA Executive

President: Melanie Urichuk
Past President: Theresa Klassen
Recording Secretary: Crystal Jochum
Contract Secretary: Kimberly Harms
Corresponding Secretaries:
Al and Loretta Thorleifson
Treasurer: Al Thorleifson
MCA Representative: Maureen Britton
Members at Large: Christina Banman, Heather Clyde, Cheryl Dousselaere, Shelley Friesen, Rachel Hiebert, James Reynolds