History

The Rainbow Harmony Project Inc. 

Incorporated on May 17, 2001

Revenue Canada Registration #884292517RR0001


Creating a More Accepting Society through the Power of Music

The Rainbow Harmony Project works to create a more accepting society by accessing a broad spectrum of society through the quality of our performances, by breaking down the foundations of homophobia and transphobia through our diversity and visibility, and by expressing the wants, desires and stories of our lives through the unique power of music.

This award-winning, non-auditioned chorus has performed in every province from British Columbia to Quebec and south to Denver.

The Rainbow Harmony Project gains access to a broad spectrum of society through the quality of our performances.  The talented direction, arrangers, singers, instrumentalists and production staff provide the credibility to open doors to our performance opportunities.  We access groundbreaking performances, such as “Sharing Our Stories”, a concert performed for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights Content Advisory Committee in January, 2010 during their cross-country consultations, where the power of our music and personal stories visibly moved the Advisory Committee members.  We gain access to places of worship from our reputation for high-quality musicianship and the power of our message.

We recognize that life is relatively good for LGBTQ2 in large urban enclaves.  We are out, and our stories are understood by much of the community.  But the urbanization of the LGBTQ2 community is not the long-term solution for the elimination of homophobia and transphobia. We reach out to suburban religious institutions, and take our messages beyond Winnipeg to support isolated LGBTQ2 individuals and the community institutions that support them.

The Rainbow Harmony Project uses this community access to break down the foundation of homophobia and transphobia.  These phobia are defined as an irrational hatred, disapproval, or fear of homosexuality, homosexual men, lesbians and transgender persons and their cultures.  Like other forms of prejudice, homophobia and transphobia are a fear of difference, or fear of the unknown. Both are based on ignorance, by lack of exposure, or by over-exposure to stereotypes of the LGBTQ2 community. Adding to the problem, homophobia and transphobia keep many LGBTQ2 people from coming out, due to their lack of identification with stereotypes, or the fear that they will be typecast with those elements, thus perpetuating the problem.

We play an important role in creating visibility to the community by representing a broad and diverse group of LGBTQ2 people.  We encourage all LGBTQ2 individuals to come out of the closet so our diversity can be seen and understood by society at large.  We encourage our members to live open, accepting and proud lives,  and provide them with a safe, secure and accepting Chorus community.  In addition, we encourage LGBTQ2 members of our community to increase their visibility by attending performances where they can be safe, celebrate our diversity, and hear our common stories.  Through our broad audience reach and community visibility, we eliminate fear; we encourage understanding and create acceptance.

The Rainbow Harmony Project uses the power of music to convey our stories and connect with audience members in a very unique way.  It is well known that music connects with individuals on a deep, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and human level.  In bypassing their “fear-based anger”, we touch people’s emotions, and provide an opportunity for them to listen, learn, grow and change.  By telling our stories through music, we are able to share with our audiences our common stories of the human experience.

Even as society accepts that the LGBTQ2 community exists, and embraces TV shows, movies, open artists, politicians and celebrations, many heterosexuals still perceive our different sexual orientation as separating us from their basic human wants – children, spouse, and legally recognized and supported families.  By telling the stories of our lives, the Rainbow Harmony Project helps to create the understanding that these wants are so deep and fundamental that LGBTQ2 individuals were working to realize them long before they were granted legal and community support.

Built on a 19-Year History

Now in its 19th season, the 70-voice ensemble is celebrated for its musicianship, creative programming and community outreach.  Under the dynamic leadership of Co-Artistic Directors Johanna Hildebrand and Justin Odwak, the Rainbow Harmony Project sings a wide repertoire ranging from classical to pop, jazzy to folk – often with a “queer” twist but always leaving its audiences uplifted and inspired.  We build bridges to all people by providing a positive, affirming image of the LGBTQ2 community.  Each year the Chorus offers two concerts, “Many Gifts” in December and a spring concert in May, reaching an audience of approximately 900.  In addition, the chorus performs in churches and at community events.


Jeff Stafflund was at a Table on Pride Day, June 20, 1999, to publicize the formation of a glbt choir. Sally signed up. Did you?

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED. INTERESTED IN SINGING?
Plans for a new gay and lesbian chorus are underway for the fall. Community oriented. [ie. You don’t have to be Pavarotti.] Weekly rehearsals. Location to be announced. Membership dues to cover costs.
For more info, contact Jeff at 237-9743, Alan at 257-3549 or Marian at 896-7869
(Swerve. July 1999. Queer Calendar, 13)

Highlights of the RHP’s performing history include:

  • Inaugural concert at Walker Theatre, May 2000 before an audience of 900 with special guests Prairie Pride Chorus (Regina) and Bridge City Chorus (Saskatoon)

  • Joint concert with Prairie Pride Chorus, 2001, Dark Hall, University of Regina

  • Joint concert with Vancouver Men’s Chorus, 2002, Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, Winnipeg

  • Canadian GALA/Unison Festivals: Toronto 2002, Edmonton 1998, Toronto 2002, Vancouver 2006, Winnipeg 2010, Ottawa 2014

  • International GALA Festival, Place des Arts, Montreal, 2004, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, CO, 2012 and 2016

  • “Running with Scissors”, a dance/choral music collaboration with Adiseola Akinleye, Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, 2004

  • Joint concert with Bridge City Chorus, Saskatoon, 2005

  • Diversity Festival, Manitoba Choral Association, 2005

  • ChoralFest Manitoba, 2001-2005

  • Three-Time Gold Medalist and winner of Helga Anderson Trophy for outstanding performance by a community choir, Winnipeg Music Festival, 2007, 2008, 2011

  • Produced CD for our 10th Anniversary Season

  • “Sharing Our Stories”: a concert for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Content Advisory Committee, January 2010

  • Performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in "Broadway Rocks" concert, March 2012

  • Performed at the Gala Dinner for the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights during the museum opening on September 18, 2014

PAST SEASONS

Season 1: 1999-2000

Scott Naugler, Director
Alan Blanchette, Associate Director
Rob Lindey, Accompanist 

Norwood United Church, Wednesday evenings

Board of Directors: Joe Stephanson, Paul Sherwood, Rob Lindey, Lisa Galloway, Suzanne Jacques, Kathy Miller, Scott Naugler, Joe Savage

September got started with 60 people showing up for first meeting. 

  • World AIDS Day. Organized by The Manitoba Interfaith LBGTCollective (Chutzpah, Dignity Winnipeg, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, The United Church of Canada Rainbow Ministry and others). Broadway Disciples United Church. Dec 1, 1999.

  • Holiday Song Fest. Norwood United Church.

  • Pink Triangle Sunday, Unitarian Church, Cafeteria of Grant Park High School, Alan Blanchette direction, Rob Lindey accompanist

  • Cantata. St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Centre. RHP performed in this annual fundraising concert to support Heartsong, the free retreat for people living with HIV and their caregivers. “Be Fabulous Wherever You Are” was dedicated to Marc Hall in Oshawa who had that day won a court ruling that he could legally attend a school prom together with his boyfriend. “Hold Strong Together,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “Turn the World Around.” May 10, 2002.

  • Service: Norwood United Church. May 28, 2000.

  • Beginnings with Bridge City Chorus (Saskatoon) and Prairie Pride Chorus (Regina). Walker Theatre. Audience of 900 opened concert with standing ovation. May 20, 2000.

  • Gay Pride 2000. The Big Red Truck Float and the First Prize!


Season 2: 2000-2001

Scott Naugler, Director
Rob Lindey, Accompanist
Alan Blanchette
Stephen Cocks

Norwood United Church, Wednesday evenings

Board of Directors: Marion Hijkoop, Rob Bowes, Paul Sherwood, Rob Lindey, Joe Savage, Lisa Galloway, Scott Naugler, Joe Stephanson, Suzanne Jacques, Kathy Miller, Ryan Schultz.

  • World AIDS Day Service. Broadway Disciples United Church. December 1, 2000.

  • Holiday song fest. Norwood United Church

  • McPhilips Street Station, Christmas Carols at Chapters.

  • Social: Midwinter Night’s Dream

  • Pink Triangle Sunday, Augustine United Church. February 11, 2001.

  • Pink Triangle Sunday, First Unitarian Church. February 18, 2001.

  • Kali Shiva Benefit at Gas Station Theatre. February 24-5, 2001.

  • Social: Spring Prom As It Never Was. Glendell Park Community Centre. April 14, 2001.

  • Service: Regent’s Park United Church. April 22, 2001.

  • Service: Norwood United Church. May 13, 2001.

  • Music Speaks Louder Than Words: Prairie Pride Chorus, Regina, with Winnipeg’s Rainbow Harmony Project. Regina. May 19, 2001. (First time listing of TRHP members)

  • With One Voice: Rainbow Harmony Project. Guest Jeff Staflund. Walker Theatre. June 2-3, 2001.

  • Pride Day Float! RHP sang on the steps of the Leg. June 10, 2001

  • Rainbow Harmony Project Garden Tour 2001. July 31, August 1, 2001


Season 3: 2001-2002

Scott Naugler, Director
Rob Lindey, Accompanist

Norwood United Church. Wednesday evenings.

Board of Directors: Michelle Ritchot, Brenda Froese, Fran Newton, Rob Lindey, Paul Sherwood, Tim Jeffrey, Paul Sullivan, Stefphany Cholakis, Lisa Galloway, Joe Savage, Kathy Miller, John Rymon, Scott Naugler, Ray Desautels.

Incorporated, a Not-For-Profit Corporation. Member of Manitoba Choral Association, GALA Choruses.

Retreat: St. Benedict’s Centre. September 29, 2001.
Social: Ghouls Night Out. October 27, 2001.

  • ChoralFest. November 24, 2001.

  • World AIDS Day Service. Broadway Disciples United Church. November 30, 2001.

  • Silver Belles: Home for the Holidays. Dec 12, 2001. Norwood United Church.

  • Social: This Way to the Beach: Wear What You Dare! January 19, 2002.

  • Pink Triangle Service, Augustine United Church, February 10, 2002.

  • Social: Spring. March 9, 2002.

  • Moulin Pink: Songs of Love, Beauty and Pride. Pantages Playhouse Theatre. April 7, 2002.

  • Flag raising ceremony at City Hall for Winnipeg Pride Day. For the first time the Rainbow flag was raised over City Hall to celebrate as a city Winnipeg Pride. June, 2002.

  • Rainbow Harmony Project in Concert: Hand In Hand, featuring the Vancouver Men’s Chorus with Guest Bill Monroe. Crescent-Fort Rouge United Church. June 20, 2002.

  • GALA. Canadian Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival. June 21-24, 2002. Toronto.


Season 4: 2002-2003

Scott Naugler, Director
Rob Lindey, Accompanist
Alan Blanchette, Assistant Conductor
Linda Rodgers, Assistant Conductor
Stephen Cocks, Assistant Accompanist
Lisa Galloway, Assistant Accompanist

Norwood United Church. Wednesday evenings.

Board of Directors: Ray Desautels, 

Non-Profit Charity Registration Number

Social: Witches, Ghosts & Fairies OH MY! October 26, 2002.

  • ChoralFest

  • World AIDS Day Service, Broadway Disciples United Church. December 1, 2002.

  • Many Gifts. December 11, 2002. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. Artistic Director: Scott Naugler, Principal Accompanist: Rob Lindey, Assistant Conductors: Alan blanchette & Linda Rodgers, Assistant, Accompanists: Stephen Cocks & Lisa Galloway

  • Social: Winter.

  • Retreat: St. Benedict’s. January 24-5, 2003.

  • Performance at the Leg: Season of NonViolence. January 30, 2003.

  • Pink Triangle Service. First Unitarian Universalist Church. February 16, 2002.

  • Social: My Big Fat Queer Social.

  • Heather Bishop in concert with The Rainbow Harmony Project. April 12, 2003. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. Associate Conductors: Alan Blanchette, Stephen Cocks, Linda Rodgers. Principle Accompanist: Rob Lindey. Associate Accompanist: Stephen Cocks.

  • Flag Raising over City Hall to celebrate Pride Week. June, 2003.


Season 5: 2003-2004

Artistic Directors: Vic Hooper, Linda Rodgers, Alan Blanchette, Scott Naugler
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

First Unitarian Universalist Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Ray Desautels, Murray Lamontagne, Lisa Galloway, Manuel Silva, Sandra Bignell, Jennifer Howard, Elizabeth Hunt, Liana Lutz, Don McDonald, John Rymon, Trish Walsh

  • ChoralFest

  • Many Gifts. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. December 10, 2003.

  • Seasonal Party, December 17, 2003.

  • Retreat #3. St Benedict’s. February 7-8, 2004.

  • Services. First Unitarian Universalist Church: What Colour is Your Triangle? February 13 &15, 2004.

  • The Rainbow Harmony Project In Concert with guest Jeff Staflund. May 15, 2004. St. Mary’s Road United Church.

  • GALA. Place des Arts, Montreal. July, 2004. There were 19 singers with Vic Hooper directing. (164 choirs from 7 countries participated.)


Season 6: 2004-2005

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey
Associate Music Directors: Alan Blanchette and Stephen Cocks (partial season)

Unitarian Church

Board of Directors: Karl Johnson, 

  • ChoralFest. Adjudicator Brainerd Blyden-Taylor (Toronto).

  • Running with Scissors: An Evening of Dance & Film. THRP performance with Adesola Akinleye and Brooke Noble. They performed at TRHP’s many gifts concert a month later. Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre. November 19-20, 2004.

  • Women of Note with the Rainbow Harmony Project, Westminster United Church. December 8, 2004.

  • Many Gifts, with Adesola Akinleye, Brook Noble, Dancers. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. Concert dedicated to the memory of Scott Michael Naugler, a founding member, former artistic director, and board member of the Rainbow Harmony Project. December 18, 2004.

  • Pink Triangle Commemoration Ceremonies at the University of Manitoba. February, 2005.

  • Black Ties: a Multi-Ethnic Celebration of African American Choral Music, with The Little Opera Company and Women of Note Chamber Choir. February 20, 2005.

  • Closing Ceremony for Season For Nonviolence. Unity Church, 300 Arlington. April 4, 2005.

  • Be Fabulous with special guests The Wyrd Sisters. Manitoba Theatre Centre. May 7, 2005.

  • Rainbow Harmony Project in Saskatoon with Bridge City Chorus. May 13-15, 2005. The Bridge City Chorus presents Somewhere…Over the Rainbow with The Rainbow Harmony Project. Royal Canadian Legion Hall, Saskatoon. May 14, 2005.

  • Diversity Sings! Project sponsored by Manitoba Choral Association. Lyric Theatre, Assiniboine Park. June 26, 2005.

  • SOMS Coronation sponsored by Snow Owl Monarchist Society. Radisson Hotel Ballroom. July 30, 2005.


Season 7: 2005-2006

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

New Board of Directors: Paul Sullivan, 

  • Social: Halloween. 295 tickets sold.

  • ChoralFest

  • Many Gifts. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. December 10, 2005.

  • LGBT Awareness Week. University Centre. University of Manitoba. February 5, 2006.

  • Pink Triangle Service. First Unitarian Universalist Church. February 12, 2006.

  • Winnipeg Music Festival, Gold medal performance and winner of Helga Anderson Trophy, 2006.

  • The Rainbow Harmony Project Presents True Colours Concert & Art Show with guests Madrigaia. Winnipeg Art Gallery. Visual artists: Graham Asmundson, Daniel Barrow, Heather Bishop, Cam Bush, Paul Butler, Shawna Dempsey, Jess Dixon, Keith Fulton, Liz Garlicki, Millie Giesbrecht, larry Glawson, Noam Gonick, Dave Grywinski, Sharon Jeanson, Jess Koroscil, Bonnie Marin, Kegan McFadden, Doug Melnyk, Lorri Millan, Vivian Muska, Paul Robles, Joel Simkin, Steve Snyder. May 6 & 7, 2006.

  • Canadian Unison Festival. Chan Centre, UBC Main Cmpus. Vancouver. May 21, 2006.


Season 8: 2006-2007

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Paul Sullivan,

  • Social: witches, ghosts & faeries oh my. Crescentwood Community Centre. October 27, 2006.

  • One Voice in Winnipeg. From Minneapolis, North America’s largest GLBT chorus. Artistic Director: Jane Ramseyer Miller. Knox United Church. Included Potluck that evening and a brunch the next morning. November 10, 2006.

  • ChoralFest. Clinician Brian Tate (Vancouver). Adjudicator Andree Dagenais. November 18, 2006.

  • Many Gifts. Knox United Church. December 16, 2006.

  • RHP filed formal complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights about Camp Arnes and their refusal to allow the choir to rent space for a music retreat. December 18, 2006.

  • Pink Triangle Service. Unitarian Universalist Church. February 11, 2007.

  • Social: St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Winnipeg Music Festival. Gold medal performance and winner of Helga Anderson Trophy for the most outstanding performance by an adult community choir. “The Size of Your Heart,” “I Ain’t Afraid.” March 14, 2007.

  • Singing Out. TRHP in Calgary Performance with Calgary Men’s Chorus, EnChor and Knox United Church Choir. Martha Cohen Theatre, Epcor Centre for Performing Arts, Calgary. April 6, 2007.

  • Rainbow Harmony Project presents Out on Broadway with Naomi Forman and featuring Edward Ledson. Manitoba Theatre Centre. Vic Hooper, Artistic Director, Rob Lindey, Accompanist, Linda Rodgers, Assistant Director. May 19, 2007.


Season 9: 2007-2008

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Paul Sullivan, Bev Budiwski, Ivan Zimmer, 

Highlights:

  • ChoralFest

  • Women of Note with the Rainbow Harmony Project. Westminster United Church. December 2, 2007.

  • Many Gifts with Jamie Lillie. Knox United Church. December 8, 2007.

  • Retreat: Annual Choir Retreat. St. Mary’s United Church. January 25, 26, 2008.

  • Winnipeg Music Festival. Westminster United Church. 2007.

  • Pink Triangle Service. First Unitarian Church. February 10, 2009.

  • Winnipeg Music Festival. Westminster United Church. March 2, 2008. Awarded a Gold medal performance and, for the second time, the Helga Anderson Trophy for “Now Is the Time: and “Over the Rainbow.”

  • Social: Shamrock Shaker. March, 2008.

  • 90th Annual Winnipeg Music Festival Gala Concert. Westminster United Church. March 16, 2008.

  • Pink Money Event. March 29, 2008.

  • Reaching Out: Now Is the Time with Chandra Mayor and Meesha Crain (video). Park Theatre. 698 Osborne St. May 25, 2008.

  • Pride Day


Season 10: 2008-2009

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Darrin Jolicoeur, Del Mansell, Bev Budiwski, Ivan Zimmer, Manny Calisto, Kate Tate, Keith Fulton, Melody Chepil, Leah McIsaac, Karl Johnson, Vic Hooper

  • Social: witches, ghosts & faeries oh me! October 25, 2008.

  • ChoralFest. November 29, 2008.

  • Many Gifts, featuring the Alumni Choir, with Guests Jeff Staflund, Jocelyne Baribeau and Karine Beaudette. Pianist Rob Lindey. Vic Hooper, Artistic Director. Julia Zacharias, Associate Director. Rob Lindey, Accompanist. December 6, 2009. Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.

  • Retreat. Unitarian Universalist Church. January 23-4, 2009.

  • Pink Triangle Service, Unitarian Universalist Church. February 22, 2009.

  • Winnipeg Music Festival. Westminster United Church. March 8, 2009.

  • Service with Churchill Park United Church. May 3, 2009.

  • Celebrarion Concert with Heather Bishop. Westminster United Church. May 30, 2009.

  • Pride Day: Grow With Us. June 14, 2009.

Season #11: 2009-2010

Season #12: 2010-2011

Season 13: 2011-2012

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Accompanist: Rob Lindey
Administrative Assistant: Dallas Jasper
(Johanna Hildebrand substituted for Vic for 3 rehearsals in February and sang a solo with us at the Swish Gala in May)

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Leah McIsaac (president),Del Mansell, Bev Budiwski, Ivan Zimmer, Manny Calisto, Kate Tate, Keith Fulton, Melody Chepil, Karl Johnson, Vic Hooper

Highlights:

  • Performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, "Broadway Rocks"Richard Lee, conductor; Christiane Noll, LaKisha Jones, Doug LaBrecque, vocalists; Rainbow Harmony Proiect, Vic Hooper, director. Concerts March 16, 17 and 18, 2012 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

  • Guest performance at Rainbow Resource Centre's Swish Gala, April 28, Delta Hotel

  • GALA Choruses Festival, July 7-11, 2012 at the Denver Performing Arts Center. In addition to our performance of selections from David McIntyre's "Watershed Stories I", we were asked to perform "Gender Polka" by David Maddux at the "Our Legacy = Our Song" Blockbuster Concert, July 8, 9pm with Desert Voices.

Season 14: 2012-2013

Artistic Director: Vic Hooper
Director: Johanna Hildebrand
Accompanist: Rob Lindey
Administrative Assistant: 

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Leah McIsaac (president),

 

Season 15: 2013-2014

Artistic Director: Johanna Hildebrand
Accompanist: Rob Lindey
Administrative Assistant: 

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: 

 

Season 16: 2014-2015

Artistic Director: Johanna Hildebrand
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Highlights:

  • Human Rights Museum Gala Dinner

  • Many Gifts Concert

  • Diversity Dinner

  • St. Andrews Church Service

  • Spring Concert

  • Pride Sunday

 

Season 17: 2015-2016

Artistic Director: Johanna Hildebrand
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Mike Killen (president), Lola Whonnock, Cheryl Costen, Nicholas Smith, Lauren Bailey, Stacey Traynor, Michael Duggan, Jenni Magnus, Vic Hooper, Johanna Hildebrand

 

Season 18: 2016-2017

Co-Directors: Johanna Hildebrand and Justin Odwak
Accompanist: Rob Lindey

Unitarian Church, Monday evenings

Board of Directors: Jenny Steinke-Magnus (president), Lola Whonnock, Rrain Prior. Ken Kuchma, Vic Hooper, Chadd Cawson, Armande Martine, Stacey Trainor, Jenni Magnus, Carole O’Brien

Highlights:

  • Many Gifts Concert "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" – December 2016 - A great program of winter and holiday themed music! A conducting debut for our new co-director, Justin Odwak.

  • Diversity Dinner "Red Carpet Event" – February 2017 - A hugely successful event for the choir, raising lots of funds for choir travel.

  • Holocaust Memorial Service – April 2017 - Participation in a moving and very meaningful service at Congregation Shaarey Zedek.

  • Spring Concert "Prairie Lullaby" – April 2017 - A fun and varied spring program, while also saying farewell to Johanna!