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Come home year

Choral festival lures trio of conductors home to N.L.

Campus and Community

By Marcia Porter

Among the more than 1,200 performers, presenters and guest speakers coming to St. John’s for Podium on the Edge: Singing from Sea to Sea to Sea are three conductors who are ecstatic to show off their hometown.

The School of Music alumni are also bringing along a number of musical visitors for the Choral Canada event running June 29-July 3.

Group of young boys together pose for a photo, dressed in matching burgandy shirts and black pants, and looking excited.
Members of the St. Michael’s Choir School Junior Choir are looking forward to performing.
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Nicholle Andrews is making the trip with from Southern California with her choir, the University of Redlands Chapel Singers. Maria Conkey is bringing “her boys,” the St. Michael’s Choir School Junior Choir of Toronto. Craig Pike is also travelling from Toronto with That Choir.

“I am so incredibly excited to come home for the Podium conference and festival and show these boys my home,” said Ms. Conkey, who is also artistic director of Young Voices Toronto.

“I’ve told them so many stories about St. John’s — like many Newfoundlanders, I’m proud to show it off. They are very excited about Moo Moo’s ice cream, Middle Cove Beach and especially participating at mass at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, where I was the choral director for five years.”

Maria Conkey
Photo: Submitted

The St. Michael’s Choir School Junior Choir sings at weekend masses, services, ordinations and other special events at St. Michael’s Cathedral-Basilica, in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

“I’ve heard from parents that many of the boys are crossing off the days on their calendars at home. In fact, Santa brought one of the boys a whole wardrobe with “Newfoundland” printed all over it,” said Ms. Conkey.

Building excitement

The University of Redlands Chapel Singers is an advanced 27-voice chamber choir composed of undergraduate and graduate students. They perform a varied repertoire, from sacred music to singing backup for The Who with Pete Townshend and Billy Idol in their performance of Quadrophenia in Los Angeles.

Dr. Andrews says the choir members are looking forward to experiencing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians’ world-famous hospitality and hearing amazing Canadian choirs.

“Not to mention how excited they are to go whale watching,” said Dr. Andrews, the university’s director of choral studies, who received her bachelor of music in oboe performance and bachelor of music education from Memorial in 1997.

Portrait-style photo of choral conductor, Nicholle Andrews
Dr. Nicholle Andrews
Photo: Submitted

Following graduation, Dr. Andrews attended McGill University; she pursued a master’s and doctorate of music in conducting. She moved to Southern California with her family in 2006 when she was offered the position of director of choral studies at the University of Redlands.

“We are very proud of our heritage, and my students all know that we are Newfoundlanders,” she said. “Providing an opportunity to bring them to Newfoundland was one not to be missed.

“Being a California choir, they’re a little nervous about surviving the weather, as they put on their winter clothes when it hits 10°C,” she continued. “Fingers crossed that we bring the California sunshine with us!”

More Memorial connections

That Choir of Toronto has 30 singers from diverse backgrounds in culture, work and study, performs contemporary choral works and a cabaret series, and supports Canadian composers.

That Choir
Photo: Submitted

It was founded by Mr. Pike, another Memorial alumnus, whose love of choral music began while singing with the choirs of Holy Heart High School and continued with Memorial’s Chamber Choir and the Quintessential Vocal Ensemble. He went on to study conducting under Prof. Doug Dunsmore.

Check out the full slate of choirs and concerts in Podium on the Edge: Singing from Sea to Sea to Sea, which is hosted by The Singing Network at Memorial.


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