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Quintessence: the fifth ancient element after earth, water, air and fire, composing the stars and heavens; the purest, most concentrated essence.

The Quintessential Vocal Ensemble (QVE) brings together a diverse group of experienced singers—including instrumentalists, music teachers, students, and members of other professions—who share a love for eclectic and engaging choral repertoire and an exceptional standard of performance. QVE is known especially for its a cappella singing of many styles and periods, and has also taken on major classical works and collaborated in productions for symphony
and stage.

QVE was founded by Susan Quinn and alumni of the Holy Heart of Mary High School Chamber Choir in 1993 as a community choir in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. QVE has amassed more than 20 awards in national and world competitions, including the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, the Florilège Vocal de Tours in France, the Cork International Choral Festival in Ireland, the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs, and the National Music Festival of Canada.

Notable historic engagements have included concerts with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra; the choir's own Christmas television special with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1994); the DeKalb International Choral Festival in Atlanta, Georgia (1995); Podium, Canada's national choral convention in Halifax (1998) and Ottawa (2012); as headline performer in MusicFest Canada's national choral showcase (2012 and 2016); and QVE’s solo debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2014 where it premiered As On Wings, commissioned from Canadian composer Leonard Enns to commemorate the response of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in aid of the thousands of trans-Atlantic airline travellers diverted to the province following the attacks of 9/11.

QVE's educational outreach includes the QVE Goes to School initiative, which has brought interactive choral workshops to students all around the province. The choir is committed to promoting the province's culture and choral singing through recurring performances in smaller communities around the province, as well as touring abroad, and commissioning of new work by Newfoundland and Labrador composers.


Emerging from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on choral singing worldwide, QVE has taken up a renewed commitment to its artistic mission. QVE premiered two collaborations with NL filmmaker Roger Maunder: the documentary Mercy, about the musical legacy of the Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland; and the video of Dolores Hynes’ Woman of the Island, filmed on location in Ferryland. QVE made its return to live performance in 2022 with a concert in Ferryland featuring newly-commissioned arrangements of the music of Ron Hynes, followed by a reprise performance at the Rooms in 2023 with guest artist Jackie Sullivan. QVE looks forward to the release of new choral recordings as part of its 30th anniversary season, and participating in the HarbourVOICES international festival in St. John’s in July 2024.

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