At 24, Jordan de Souza is a conductor and keyboardist whose resumé already boasts jobs with North Carolina’s Janiec Opera Company, Toronto’s Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, and Montreal’s Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. This fall he takes over as principal conductor and artistic director of the Ottawa Choral Society, a position his predecessor, Matthew Larkin, held for the past seven seasons. De Souza opens up to Ottawa Magazine’s Erica Eades about his love for the genre and why he can’t wait to begin his next chapter in the nation’s capital.
Jordan de Souza makes his debut at the OCS podium on Nov. 30 with a performance of The Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach. $37-$48, students $10, children 12 and under free. St. Joseph’s Church, 174 Wilbrod St., 613-725-2560, www.ottawachoralsociety.com.
What attracted you to choral music?
I was a boy chorister at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, so I just kind of happened upon the music. I have six brothers and they all attended the choir school, so it also seemed normal from that perspective — that liking choral music wasn’t an odd thing. By the time I was in the middle of choir school, I was already head over heels for it.
What are you most excited about with these new positions?
It’s a chance early in my professional career to build something new in a community that I feel is very ripe. There’s already such a deep appreciation of classical music in Ottawa. To have a chance to build on something that’s already there is very exciting.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
I have no idea, to be honest. I’m approaching it as a world of opportunities. OCS is an organization that is very much willing to reinvigorate and reinvent. They’re really open to all kinds of new ideas, so it’s been great fun getting to know them and to work with them and to share some of my ideas.
Twenty-four sounds young to take on a role of such responsibility. What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I’ve been fortunate that the leaders, conductors, and artistic directors of all the organizations I’ve been a part of have been very much mentors to me. They’ve taken me under their wings a bit and showed me the ropes. And working at McGill University and at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul have both been great opportunities for me to learn what it takes to lead an organization like this. Twenty-four is young, but I’ve always been told I have an old soul.
What can audiences expect from the upcoming season?
I’m looking to present something to the community that, first of all, will be different from what they’re being offered by all the other great groups in Ottawa and, secondly, will really highlight what our strengths are. We go from Bach to opera, and then we’re going to end the season with Shakespeare texts set to music. It’s a varied program but very attractive — in tandem and also as one-offs.
What else should people know about you?
A lot of people ask, “Why the choral society?” For me, I think a choral society is the ideal personification of so many community values. It’s all of us coming together to achieve something that’s greater than what any of us could do individually. That’s the fundamental concept — music is just the medium through which we aspire to whatever greatness we can.