About Capella Regalis

Founder and Director Nick Halley leading the Men and Boys Choir in an Evensong, 2017.

Founder and Director Nick Halley leading the Men and Boys Choir in an Evensong (2017).

Capella Regalis Men and Boys Choir was founded in Nova Scotia by Nick Halley in 2010 to build upon the best aspects of the centuries-old European tradition of men and boys church choirs and to revitalize this method of music training in Canada. The Capella Regalis Girls Choir launched in September 2022. Capella Regalis is free and open to any child who passes a basic audition. Most new boy choristers (from age six) begin in the Probationers Program, rehearsing for one hour each week, before being promoted to full-fledged choristers in the Senior Choir. The Girls Choir offers weekly rehearsals for girls ages 7 - 13. The professional section of Capella Regalis is our Men's Choir, comprising a core roster of professional singers together with choristers from our pre-professional Young Men's program (teenagers whose voices have changed). The Men of Capella Regalis provide the alto, tenor, and bass voices for Capella Regalis services and performances and act as musical role models for our younger choristers in training.

Capella Regalis Choirs regularly sing Choral Evensong in the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax, as part of the Cathedral's Sundays at Four series, and rehearse at St Andrew's United Church, Halifax. The choirs also perform concerts around Nova Scotia and beyond in a busy September – June season.

Senior Choir boys and men in the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax (2019).

Senior Choir boys and men in the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax (2019).

Annual performances include tour programs of sacred and secular repertoire from across the Western tradition, and the popular, annual Christmas series, A Chorister's Christmas. In addition, Capella Regalis frequently collaborates with other groups and world-class musicians in productions of major works such as J.S. Bach’s Easter Cantata BWV 4, J.S. Bach's Saint Matthew Passion, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Bizet’s Carmen, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Britten’s Saint Nicolas, Handel’s Te Deum, Monteverdi’s Selva Morale e Spirituale, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Paul Winter Consort’s Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, and Schütz's Musikalische Exequien. Capella Regalis has received many project grants from Arts Nova Scotia and other public and private funding sources in support of its professional presentations. 

Capella Regalis has hosted other choirs and performing artists from the local community as well as from across Canada for special projects, and has itself received performance invitations from presenting venues across Nova Scotia, as well as venues in New Brunswick, PEI, Quebec, and Ontario. In June 2022, the Scotia Festival of Music featured Nick and the boy sopranos of Capella Regalis alongside Canadian violinist Kerson Leong and string orchestra in the Canadian premiere of John Rutter's "Visions" (a violin concerto written for Leong and boys choir). Capella Regalis has completed six performance tours in the Maritimes, nearly all presented by Musique Royale, a performing arts organization with a mission to bring world-class music to venues of architectural and historic significance across Nova Scotia.

Director Nick Halley works with the boys during a recording session (2014).

Director Nick Halley works with the boys during a recording session (2014).

Capella Regalis has released three CDs: Love Came Down: Carols for Christmas (2019), Greater Love (2017) and My Eyes for Beauty Pine (2014), as well as many online performance broadcasts (visit our Shop and Video pages for more information). Capella Regalis has also collaborated with other non-profit organizations on charitable causes in Nova Scotia ranging from nature conservation to food drives, and has given performances hosted by different Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia over the years. The choirs regularly present tours of free, interactive choral performances in elementary schools in Halifax and environs, and have led workshops for other choirs.

In addition to services, concerts, and recordings, the young choristers of Capella Regalis enjoy an annual summer choir camp in the last week of August and other musically and socially enriching outings and experiences.

Six boy choristers singing during a performance (2019).

Choristers performing during a concert (2019).

Our philosophy: Access to excellence. In 2010, Nick Halley founded Capella Regalis Men & Boys Choir in recognition that the journey to adulthood for boys is a challenge that has garnered the interest of researchers, educators, and social critics over the last few decades. A men and boys choir, with its built-in system of mentorship, is uniquely capable of addressing the issues of leadership, mental focus, and inspiration that boys face at this stage of life. The result of such training is to access some of the greatest music humankind has produced over the last eight centuries.

With the launch of the Capella Regalis Girls Choir in Fall 2022, girls and young women as well as boys and young men are now receiving a free music education in a centuries-old tradition. Capella Regalis is open to any child who passes a basic audition. Although we encourage donations from families who are able to support the program, there is no dues requirement. The choir also provides volunteer-based transportation from school to regular rehearsals for youth who otherwise would not be able to participate.

Capella Regalis is dedicated to performing choral music at the highest level of excellence and to fostering an appreciation of choral music among the general public. The performance mandate of Capella Regalis underpins its educational mandate, as it is through participation in professional-level performances with professional musicians that the youth choristers of Capella Regalis are trained to reach a professional level themselves. Capella Regalis is a registered Canadian charity, a professional arts organization, and an educational outreach program of Musique Royale.

By modeling itself on the great Cathedral choirs, Capella Regalis offers a rare culture of mentoring through which the boys can thrive and learn. And it does this within the context of developing musical literacy by singing some of the greatest works in our tradition, which is to say, it trains young men to be attentive, wakeful, disciplined and courageous.

Paul Halley, excerpt from an audience letter in December 2010