Capella Regalis Men & Boys Choir
Report for the King’s Chapel AGM 2014
Nick Halley, Artistic Director
Nick Veltmeyer, Assistant Director
Vanessa Halley, Manager
Capella Regalis in the Chapel Community
The 2013-14 season marks the fourth year that Capella Regalis Men & Boys Choir has been a part of the King’s College Chapel community. The choir continues to be deeply enriched by its connection with the King’s College Chapel and its Chaplain, Father Thorne. The choir sings weekly Evensongs in the Chapel, every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., with boys and men the first Tuesday of each month and feast days, boys only the second and fourth Tuesdays, and men only the third Tuesday. Not only do weekly Evensongs provide the boys (and men) with a religious education in a thriving university Chapel community with excellent liturgy; there are musical benefits as well. Learning new music on a weekly basis and having to present it on relatively little rehearsal time speeds up the development of skills such as sight-reading, ensemble music-making, discipline and focus. The weekly services allow the boys and men access to some of the greatest music in the western world – far more than would be available merely through concert repertoire.
A liturgical men and boys choir is counter-cultural in our current time and place, and we are constantly aware of the significant challenges a liturgical choir presents to boys and parents in a world of tight schedules, multiple extra-curricular activities, and differing family, societal and religious values. But we are finding that, increasingly, the boys themselves are gaining an appreciation and understanding of the rare educational experience they are getting not only in music, but in independent thought, leadership, and commitment. We feel it is the connection to the Chapel community and the weekly Evensongs that define Capella Regalis and set us apart from the vast majority of boys choirs now found in North America. We extend our deep thanks to the King’s Chapel community for welcoming the choir into your worship, your space, and community life. Our continuing hope is that we, in turn, contribute significantly to the Chapel and College communities.
Capella Regalis is a registered society under the Societies Act of Nova Scotia, and since the summer of 2012, we have been an educational outreach programme of Musique Royale, a charitable organization with a mission to support and present music programming and education across Nova Scotia.
In addition to the regular staff (Nick Halley as Director, Nick Veltmeyer as Assistant Director, and Vanessa Halley as Manager), Capella Regalis is blessed with a team of wonderful, key volunteers, without whom we would not be able to do what we do. Paul Halley spends many hours accompanying the choir, assisting with rehearsals, and providing experienced support and encouragement in a multitude of unpaid ways. Liz Kobes designs concert posters and, most time-consuming, coordinates our transportation programme by which we arrange transportation for boys from school to rehearsal and from rehearsal home twice weekly. Anyone not seeing this process first-hand would have no idea how many hours of putting together transportation charts, schedules, calling parents, fielding last-minute cancellation calls and so on this requires! Sarah Stevenson takes care of our Internet and information services, including design and maintenance of our website and social media, putting in countless hours on a purely volunteer basis. Scott Beard is our Librarian, overseeing our music library, assisting to put together music lists, and maintaining music folders for all men and boys on a weekly basis. Other volunteers include our many drivers (special mention to Chapel members Henk Fisher, Elizabeth Orenstein, and Sarah Stevenson), parents, our accounting friend Susanne Willett, our Board of Directors, and of course Father Thorne, who continues to be a shepherd and friend to all of us, and most especially the boys.
There are many volunteer opportunities with Capella Regalis for students and Chapel members at King’s. Capella Regalis is truly an outreach programme – we provide a completely free choral programme for boys from all walks of life. Capella Regalis does not charge dues; all funds are by donation only. We provide free transportation to and from rehearsals to those boys who otherwise would not be able to participate. Please contact Vanessa, Nick or Liz (drivers needed!) if you are interested in volunteering in any way.
Shortly after our AGM report last March, the men and boys did a tour of no fewer than 10 HRM-area schools over three days in May 2013, providing free performances and question-and-answer sessions to approximately 1,000 elementary school children. The choir then embarked on a Nova Scotia tour with performances in Chester, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Port Williams, and Halifax and wonderful camping, hiking, museum-hopping, boat touring, and luxuriating in between.
We started the 2013-14 season with our second annual Capella Regalis summer choir camp for the boys at St Anne’s Camp in West Dalhousie in late August. Choir camp is extremely fun for choristers and counselors alike, and highlights this year (in addition to the many rehearsals, of course) included a raucous skit night, an epic “scare night” Quest, the second annual Non-Athelon, and many a wonderful meal prepared by Shay and company (including a cooking class for the boys). Team Awesome (Nick and Liz, Vanessa and Shay and Wyn, Nico, Henk, Jordan Draper and Paul Rogers) won camp handily, followed by runners-up The Choir Kings and the Chivalrous Chapel Champions.
In September, we held our first annual Open House to which we invited interested boys, parents, music educators, and others to watch a rehearsal, hear Nick talk about the choir, and mingle with current choristers and parents to hear about their experiences.
Soon after the Open House, we launched our Junior Choir programme for new choristers (from age 6). Directed by Nick Veltmeyer, the Junior Choir meets once weekly (Friday afternoons) for one hour during the Senior Choir rehearsal time and the boys receive introductory singing, ear-training, and music reading skills. We currently have five boys in the Junior Choir, with two of these promoted to the Senior Choir in the past week.
The men and boys continued their weekly Evensongs throughout the academic term. During the months of January, February, and March, the choir sang its weekly Evensongs at the Cathedral Church of All Saints due to the flooding and subsequent repair work in the Chapel.
Concert highlights of the season so far have been Britten’s Saint Nicolas, which was produced by Capella Regalis with essential assistance from Musique Royale, and in which the boys sang various roles alongside the King’s Chorus and members of the Chapel Choir; the choir’s three-concert tour of its Christmas programme, To Bethlehem With King’s (December 20-22, 2013) with the Maritime Brass; and the recent Missa Gaia/Earth Mass with the King’s Chorus, American gospel singer Theresa Thomason, and 8-piece band (produced by Musique Royale). The boys are currently preparing for their parts in Bach’s St Matthew Passion directed by Paul Halley with the King’s Chapel Choir, Ensemble Regale, and a stunning line-up of soloists. This will be an unparalleled experience for the boys.
The men and boys have just a few weeks of regular services left this term and are honored to be involved in Holy Week, with the men and boys Eucharist service on Tuesday of Holy Week (April 15 at 5:00 p.m.). In May, we plan to do our annual school outreach tour, and the boys will be spending a weekend on the South Shore to prepare for a recording we hope to make in late May. We have an end-of-season concert planned in Halifax on May 31. Stay tuned at www.capellaregalis.com.
Submitted March 26, 2014