Pembina Trails Voices is one of the premier youth and children's choral ensembles in Canada. The choir's roots were firmly planted in the former Assiniboine South School Division, when in 1981, two ASSD trustees, Verna Van Roon and Myrtle Zimmerman approached music educator Jan Bratland with a proposal to form a choir to entertain at the annual provincial trustees meetings in Brandon.
The choir did a fabulous job of performing for the assembled throng. They had such a wonderful time together that they refused to disband. In short order, members of the choir appealed to the school board to fund the continuation of the choir, and the board agreed. With support from Dr. Patrick Krescy, Assistant Superintendent, the Assiniboine South School Division, and led by Jan Bratland, this choir became known as the Assiniboine South Youth Choir, comprised of choristers from grades five through nine. They rehearsed once a week, presented two concerts a year and toured in the spring.
In 1986, Dr. Garry Froese began his tenure with the choir and within five years, added a girl choir and boy choir component within the structure of twice-weekly rehearsals. Throughout the years, various other ensembles branched out from ASYC, giving the choristers a myriad of vocal and choral opportunities.
In 2002, Ruth Wiwchar joined the Assiniboine South School Division and was appointed Artistic Director of the Youth Choir. That same year the Assiniboine South School Division and the Fort Garry School Division amalgamated to become the Pembina Trails School Division. The youth choir followed suit, changing the name from the Assiniboine South Youth Choir to Pembina Trails Voices.
With amalgamation came the opportunity for the choir to expand both in the number of ensembles, and in the number of choristers. Today, PTV is comprised of choristers from kindergarten through grade 12 and functions in a series of ensembles, reflecting the various stages of vocal and musical development; Nova (children in kindergarten and grade one), Minnesingers (girls, grades two and three), PTV Boys Training Choir (boys, grades two, three and four), Choraliers (girls grades four and five), Chorale (girls grades five through eight), PTV Boys, (boys, unchanged voices grades four and up), PTV Men (our male changed voices), Cantemus (our senior girls' ensemble) and PTV Singers, our senior SATB Ensemble. Our younger choristers rehearse one hour weekly; our choristers in Chorale, PTV Boys, PTV Men and Cantemus rehearse two and one half hours weekly with an additional rehearsal one Saturday morning per month.
The choir currently presents a total of five concerts per year: two "PTV Family" concerts in December and May; two concerts presented by Chorale, Cantemus, PTV Boys and PTV Men in October and February; and one March concert presented by NOVA, Minnesingers, PTV Boys Training Choir and Choraliers.
Touring is an integral part of the program for middle and senior years choristers. Sharing choral music with audiences throughout Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and Europe has brought an incredible richness and a depth of cultural awareness to the choristers and to the program. Tour highlights over the years include being Manitoba's very first choir to be invited to the prestigious choral festival, Festival 500 in St. John's, Newfoundland, competing in the Young Prague Festival in Prague and the Summa Cum Laude festival in Vienna, performance tours to Cuba, performing at the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Association national conference, at the American Choral Directors Association North Central Regional Conference and at Carnegie Hall in New York.
In July 2019, PTV Singers will compete in the prestigious Llangollen International Music Festival in Llangollen, Wales.
Locally, the choirs are in demand as guest artists with all of Winnipeg's professional music organizations. Highlights include performing Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and MusikBaroque; premiering Bramwell Tovey's For a Fistful of Guilders with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; participating in a Winnipeg premiere performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony; performing Britten's Noye's Fludde with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra; recording music of Sid Robinovitch with the Winnipeg Singers, and making a music video of a song by Canadian folksinger Ian Tamblyn. Recent guest appearances have featured the PTV Boys/Ragazzi performing with Winnipeg's Little Opera Company, and PTV Singers performing with Juno Award-winning pop/folk band Indian City for The United Way.