Latvian born Canadian composer Imant Raminsh is the co-founder of AURA Chamber Choir and has been the choir’s principal conductor for the past 37 years.
Imant emigrated with his family to Canada in 1948. He began his musical education with his mother, an accomplished pianist and teacher. Imant later chose the violin as his primary instrument, completing his ARCT diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto. Post graduate studies followed at the Salzburg Academy Mozarteum, where he studied composition, violin and conducting and was a member of the school’s professional orchestra, Camerata Academica. He completed further post graduate work at UBC and then earned a teaching degree from the University of Victoria.
Imant’s commitment to the cultural vitality of the Interior of B.C. is widely appreciated. He founded the New Caledonia Chamber Orchestra (forerunner to the Prince George Symphony), Nova Children’s Choir and the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan (which he has conducted for the past 23 years). Imant also teaches violin at the Vernon Community Music School. Imant is also husband to Becky and father to Lisa.
A prolific composer, Imant is known world-wide primarily for his choral works, often created in response to commissions from professional music organizations such as the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the CBC, the British Columbia Choral Federation, the Richard Eaton Singers, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Orpheus Choir.
His instrumental works range from chamber music (including three string quartets written for the Borealis String Quartet) to symphonic works and concertos. His vocal works include a number of solo song cycles and two operas. He has been fortunate to collaborate with his wife, poet Becky Strube in a number of works including a theme song for the Fourth International Children’s Conference on the Environment, held in Victoria B.C. in May 2002.
In May 2010, as part of its 50th season celebrations, the Okanagan Symphony premiered Imant’s major choral-orchestral work, Quaternity – A Cantata of Seasons. This was a joint commission with Chorus Niagara, the St. Lawrence Choir and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Chorus, and was another collaboration with his wife Becky.
Imant’s work draws on a rich heritage of Latvian folk song, as well as liturgical texts, native American chants and contemporary poetry. In recent years he has participated in the renaissance of Latvian cultural identity after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the Baltica 2007 Festival held in Toronto, Imant was made an officer of the Republic of Latvia, that country’s highest civilian honour, equivalent to the Order of Canada. In February 2011, he was the recipient of the Okanagan Music Award.
Marjorie began piano lessons at the age of five and received her Associate Teachers Diploma in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music- Toronto. She became a member of the BC Registered Music Teachers Association in 1973 and continues to maintain an active studio teaching piano, theory and organ.
For more than 35 years Marjorie has held the position of full time/part time organist with All Saints Anglican Church and has been Director of music for 25 of those years. She has also been Choir Leader for Peace Lutheran Church Choir for the past seven years.
Her long term service as a choral accompanist includes: AURA Chamber Choir for twenty eight years including four years as choir president, Vernon Community Singers for seventeen years and the Young Scott Singers for five years.
She has been accompanist for vocal and instrumental students in local and provincial music festivals. Marjorie has been an accompanist for the Naramata Summer School of Music Arts for many years in addition to serving as director for the “Green Choir” at Naramata for four years. Marjorie also served on the NSSMA Board of directors for six years, three years as secretary.
In April 2006, Marjorie received the BC Choral Federation Joyce O. Maguire Award for outstanding long term service as a choral accompanist.