St. John’s Choral Society
On this day, (February 19, 1879) the local, St. John’s newspaper, The Temperance Journal reported:
“The first concert of the St. John’s Choral Society took place in the Athenaeum Hall on Wednesday evening (February 19, 1879) before a fair audience. We understand the “lovers of sweet sounds” were amply repaid for their evening excursion.”
The 200 voice St. John’s Choral Society was the focal point for a good deal of musical activity in St. John’s in the late 19th century. The society put on performances of large scale oratorios and sacred cantatas. Among the major works performed were Messiah (1880, 1884), Judas Maccabaeus (1881) and The Creation (1882).
The founders of the Choral Society were Emil Handcock and George Rowe. Handcock served as the first director until 1883 at which time Rowe took the baton.
The site of this first concert was at the very prestigious Athenaeum Hall. Built in 1879, this 1000 seat theatre was central too much of this musical activity in the town. Located on Duckworth Street – the Athenaeum was also home to a Library and Reading Room. In 1892 in the great downtown fire, the Athenaeum was destroyed.
The strong tradition of choral music continues with Newfoundland and Labrador boasting some of the best choirs in the country. Including:
Shallaway: http://www.shallaway.ca Shallaway is dedicated to continuing its ever-evolving journey of exploring, connecting, encouraging, developing and celebrating cultural expression through the medium of choral music.
Lady Cove: http://www.ladycove.ca/ Lady Cove Women’s Choir is one of twenty-five choral ensembles in the world – and the only one from Canada — chosen to participate in the 9th World Symposium on Choral Music in Argentina in August 2011.
Newman Sound: http://newmansound.ca/ Newman Sound competed in the World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio, (2012) achieving world champion status as the gold medal winners for male chamber choirs! They continue to hold to that high standard.
Les Ms: http://www.lesms.ca/ This ensemble is recognized for its high quality music and unique performance style. Delivering an eclectic repertoire that includes sacred music and spirituals to traditional, pop and vocal jazz,
Quintessential Vocal Ensemble (QVE): www.qve.ca Over the past 20 years, the Quintessential Vocal Ensemble (QVE) has become recognized as one of Canada’s most accomplished amateur choirs, bringing together more than 40 singers from the thriving musical community of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Cantus Vocum: http://www.cantusvocum.com/ Cantus Vocum Chamber Choir was founded in 1995 by their current conductor, Chad Stride. Cantus Vocum translates as “the musical sound of voices”. This twenty voice chamber choir has quickly been recognized and praised for their musical artistry. Cantus Vocum is continually producing innovative programming to cover a broad spectrum of musical tastes.
St. John’s Choir: www.stjohnschoir.ca For more than 50 years, the St. John’s Choir has been an active participant in and contributor to the musical life of the city, and has provided an opportunity for members of the community to come together with one voice.
The Philharmonic Choir of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. http://pcnso.org/ : The (PCNSO) is a community choir based in St. John’s, founded in 1987 as an oratorio choir specifically to perform Handel’s Messiah with the NSO, the PCNSO has broadened its repertoire substantially and now performs several concerts each season with a wide variety of music.
Take some time to explore each of these websites. Some have concert dates and special events posted.