The Diocese of Fredericton’s Choir School marked 60 consecutive years in July 2017, making it the longest continuously running school of its kind in Canada. Its ministry objective has never changed: to enhance the God-given gift of music in people and encourage them to share this gift in their home communities. Choristers come to stay in a residential setting for the week, and benefit from top level music instruction by accomplished church musicians as they sing for up to four hours per day.
A Choir School experience also involves recreation activities, Christian Education sessions, times to explore living the Christian faith in today’s culture, and, a key ingredient, down time, where friendships are cemented and dreams sometimes shared amongst friends. All of this would be very expensive to provide, and it is only with the help of many generous people, foundations, and more that we have been able to keep the cost of attending at a reasonable rate, while also supplying some bursaries to those in financial need.
The success of Choir School’s work is impossible to measure in any quantifiable way. On the one hand, we have had in our midst opera singers, church organists and choir directors, many music teachers, and others who have made music a part of their career lives. On the other hand, we have welcomed novice singers, and even those who have never sung in a choir before. Regardless of past experience, many have had life-changing experiences during the week, and/or have been inspired in their faith, in music making, more.
Today, in spite of a declining presence of church choirs and choral singing in some areas, Choir School continues to welcome over 100 people each year. But we “imagine more.” Not merely higher numbers, but more of what has made Choir School thrive in the faith lives of so many people. There are many songs still to be sung, and many times that the Holy Spirit can be felt in the midst of music making. God is always to be praised! Our family is diverse; our choristers range in age from eight into the 80s. We welcome people from several provinces, and several denominations. God’s praise continue to be sung. We are thankful first to our Lord God Almighty to be able to continue this good work, and to parish churches and families who choose to be a part of our community. Such a community would not exist today without the strong support of a wider community yet, and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. All of this and more, experienced over 60 years, celebrated at Choir School 2017.