Honorary Patrons

In Their Own Words: Our Honorary Patrons

Judith Forst, O.C., O.B.C.
Martha Lou Henley
Brett Polegato
Wayne Riddell
Robert Sund
Bramwell Tovey, O.M.


Judith Forst, mezzo-soprano

Judith Forst, O.C., O.B.C.

“Chor Leoni and a new conductor Erick Lichte – performances continue to sparkle and entertain— wonderful music making!”

Judith Forst has been called “one of the few truly world class coloratura mezzo-sopranos on the operatic stage,” with a voice that is “bright, sensuous, seamless through its range, full of secure, shining high notes” (COC Magazine Apr 1988). She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia. In 1978 she was named Canadian Woman of the Year, and in 1992 the City of Port Moody, BC, granted her the freedom of the city. In recognition of her contributions to Canadian music, Forst was named an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre in 2009.


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Martha-Lou Henley, philanthropist

Martha-Lou Henley, C.M.
philanthropist and music lover

I think it was in the spring of 1995 that I was introduced to this superb choir. Diane and I were having lunch at Ecco il Pane on West 5th Avenue and when she mentioned Chor Leoni, I had no idea what she was talking about; I had never heard of this choir!!! She encouraged me to buy a ticket to their upcoming concert in Vanier Park and I happily obeyed her. From that day on, I was permanently hooked!!!!

I have lovely memories from those early days and I will continue to add to them as time goes on. I have many friends within the choir and there is much love exchanged between us.

Chor Leoni’s new Artistic Director, Erick Lichte, has managed the transition into Chor Leoni with compassion, sensitivity and integrity, honouring the choir’s much-loved founder Diane Loomer, yet introducing his own musical gifts. It is easy to see the choir is happy to have him as their leader. I know this choir will remain in the forefront of the choral community within North America and beyond.

Chor Leoni means so much to me that it is impossible to describe the choir in just a few words…unless I do it this way:

C – charismatic, charming, committed
H – harmonious
O – original
R – remarkable, a “roaring” success

L – lovable
E – enthusiastic, expressive, energetic, engaging
O – outstanding
N – notable
I – intelligent, impressive


Brett Polegato, baritone

Brett Polegato,

“It was in 1997, for the bicentennial of Schubert’s birth, that I first had the opportunity to meet and work with Chor Leoni; I was immediately won over by the love of music – apparent in every phrase they sang – of each member of the choir, and, of course, by the charm and energy of Diane Loomer, the choir’s founder and director. Making music with them is still one of the fondest memories of my career, and I am proud to be an honorary patron of such a world-class ensemble. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be associated with such a talented, joyous and generous group of men and to watch them go from strength to strength – long may the magic continue!”

Brett Polegato’s artistic sensibility has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics: “his is a serious and seductive voice” says The Globe and Mail, and The New York Times has praised him for his “burnished, well-focused voice” which he uses with “considerable intelligence and nuance.” Read more here.

Wayne Riddell

Wayne Riddell, C.M.

Wayne Riddell,

“Chor Leoni is one of North America’s finest male choirs – always musical, engaging, and entertaining.”

Canadian conductor and organist Wayne Riddell has been described by music critics as “a choral trainer of genius.” In July 1988, Wayne Riddell was named a member of the “Order of Canada” in recognition of this outstanding contribution to choral music. In May 1992 he was honoured with the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. In March 1995, he was honoured by The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul and awarded the title Director of Music Emeritus for his outstanding contribution to the music programme of the church. He is also a contributor to EMC. In 2014 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from his alma mater, McGill University (Montreal.) Read more here.


Maestro Robert Sund, photo by Nils Nordling

Maestro Robert Sund, photo by Nils Nordling

Robert Sund
conductor & composer

“Worldwide, good male choirs are a commodity in short supply. Therefore it was a great pleasure for me to get to know Chor Leoni some years ago and later to have the privilege of conducting the choir at concerts in Vancouver.

Chor Leoni has all the constituents of a really good choral instrument: a rich, full-bodied sound, good reading ability, meticulous intonation, and very musical performances. In addition to these qualities there is bold programming, with many commissions and innovative concert concepts, a very strong sense of concord and harmony (and humour) within the group, and a solid organization – all under the splendid leadership of the founder and artistic director of the choir, Diane Loomer.

Chor Leoni is an ensemble that I would love to meet again soon and I wish them much success in their future music making.”


Maestro Bramwell Tovey

Maestro Bramwell Tovey,

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

“Under Diane Loomer’s direction, Chor Leoni has a polish, a sound, a spontaneity and a style that I feel is unequalled by any male voice choir that I have ever heard – and that includes the best on offer at the Eistedfodd in Wales. Thank you for such an inspiring performance and such great music-making.”

“One of the most versatile and charismatic musicians in the world, Bramwell Tovey is a Grammy Award-winning conductor and a renowned composer.”
MusicalAmerica.com August,2012 read more