Friday, December 10, 2010

40 after 40: Diane Loomer


In the 1970s Diane Loomer tended her home, raised her son and taught part-time while her husband completed his orthopaedic residency at Vancouver General Hospital. Once he finished his training, he said to Diane, “Now it’s your turn. Go back to school and do what you’ve always wanted to do – study music.”

So Diane enrolled in the Music program at Douglas College, from 1978-1980, and went onto UBC to earn her BA and do graduate studies in Music. Once she finished her schooling, Diane, at the advice of a mentor from Douglas's Music Department, went into conducting “at a most opportune time.”

“Conducting had traditionally been a man’s world,” she explains. “But things were beginning to change in that professional field as they were in many other professions. There were still hurdles to jump and prejudices to overcome. But with very hard work and lots of support from my husband, family and friends, good things began to happen.”


Diane is one of the best-known choral conductors in Canada. She is Artistic Director and conductor of the internationally renowned Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, and EnChor (a mixed choir for singers over 55). Throughout her 25-year career, she’s founded five choirs, including the Douglas College Community Choir (now Amabilis Singers), the two mentioned above and the award-winning Elektra Women’s Choir, from which she recently retired. She has received a number of awards for her work in music including the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, an honorary doctorate from UBC and the Order of Canada – the highest award a civilian can receive in this country.

She has travelled around the world conducting, leading workshops and lecturing. Her choirs have taken multiple first prizes in national and international competitions, and her choral compositions have been published and recorded internationally.

Hard work, unflagging motivation and a strong belief that making and teaching music were “good, human causes” kept Diane on the path to realizing her dreams. A little help from her old alma mater hasn’t hurt either.

“The education I received from Douglas was of the highest order,” she says. “It was such crucial and valuable preparation for my transfer to and eventual graduate studies at UBC. The professors I had at Douglas were remarkable teachers and such generous human beings. Douglas College was also the first place where I was employed as a musician and teacher of music – my career was launched at Douglas.”

40 after 40 is a series showcasing our amazing grads and employees in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Check back every Wednesday and Friday for another inspiring story. See more about our 40th on our Anniversary page.