Capella Regalis Men & Boys Choir
Report for the King’s Chapel AGM 2017
Nick Halley, Artistic Director
Vanessa Halley, Manager
Capella Regalis is ‘in residence’ in both the University of King’s College Chapel and the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, rehearsing twice weekly and singing special Tuesday services in the King’s Chapel, and also singing Evensongs regularly in the Cathedral as part of the Sundays at Four series.
The 2016-17 season began with our annual, five-day Choir Camp for our Senior Choir choristers and Young Men, in the last week of August at St Anne’s Camp in West Dalhousie. In early September, we began our regular rounds of weekly rehearsals (four each week) for the Senior Choir, Probationers, and Young Men, and singing Evensong services. At our annual Service of Investiture in October, four boys were invested into the Senior Choir. We have also brought in six new boys to the Probationers Program and Senior Choir so far this season. Three or four others tried the choir this season for some period of time and decided not to remain. We currently have 12 boys in the Senior Choir and 4 in the Probationers Programme, though the Probationers Programme is a constantly changing group as new boys join and others move up or out. We have 5 Young Men and a roster of 8 – 10 older (though not by much) Men, who are making a beautiful sound and who we appreciate so much for their commitment to the choir.
Later in October, we recorded a few pieces to update our website, including repertoire the choristers have sung at Cathedral weddings this season, and to wrap up older projects. In December, the men and boys performed three Christmas concerts, in Windsor, Lunenburg and Halifax to wonderful, large audiences.
In the 2016-17 season, Capella Regalis has sung 15 services between the Chapel and the Cathedral (two more were scheduled but were canceled due to bad weather or other complications). At the most recent special Tuesday Evensong in the Chapel, on March 7 for St Thomas Aquinas, we had a blessing and presentation of the new Head Chorister medallion, which we commissioned George Cochrane to make for us, based on the Capella Regalis logo (which is itself inspired by the stained glass window above the altar in the Chapel).
Coming up, the men and boys will sing an Evensong in the King’s Chapel on the Tuesday of Holy Week, then they will have a month-long break from rehearsals, then resume to present a final Evensong in May at the Cathedral, and in June tour PEI and Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore. Chapel friends Fr Colin Nicol and Shannon Parker will help to host the choir in PEI. A weekend visit to Fr Ranall Ingalls’ parish in Sackville, NB originally planned for May will be made in the fall instead.
Recently, Capella Regalis chorister Peter Dietz (age 9) sang the boy soprano solo in The King’s Chorus performance of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. We would also like to make particular mention of Gabe O’Brien, one of the Capella Regalis Young Men (and former Head Chorister), who has been playing the organ for the Chapel’s Sunday morning services this year and studying organ with Paul.
This year has been positively marked by a better-than-ever financial stability for the organization and wonderful remarks that we have received from audience members on the sound of the choir. We feel, in this seventh year of existence, that we are starting to reap the benefits of the challenges and steep learning curve we went through in the first years and, though we have no doubt that plenty of challenges lie ahead, we feel we have moved on from the fragile, infantile phase of our programme to a more stable, long-term period of growth.
We have a number of volunteers who deserve special mention. Fr Thorne is the Chaplain to Capella Regalis and continues to educate and inspire and show great kindness to the choristers. Paul Halley is our behind-the-scenes VIP, who does so much more than his simple ‘accompanist’ title conveys, always guiding us and helping to strengthen our music-making and educational work (and endlessly typing up service bulletins!). Barbara Butler, our Board chair, is a tireless supporter who provides the choir with wonderful performance opportunities (including annual tours) and does all she can to help us grow in our mission. Scott Beard is our music librarian who spends hours each week ensuring that the boys and men have the music they need. Sarah Stevenson has continued as our website administrator, keeping the website up to date with our events and other information. Peter and Irene Wilkinson take care of the choir’s service vestments, greet for our Cathedral services, and help in so many ways. Beth Boudreau is our volunteer driver who sacrifices many afternoons to drive choristers who otherwise would not be able to participate to and from rehearsals. Kate Therien helps keep our Facebook page up to date.
On staff, in addition to the two of us (Nick and Vanessa), we have Dominique Saulnier, a Chapel Choir choral scholar, who is nearing the end of her second year of leading the Probationers in their weekly rehearsals. This season she also began (very capably) substitute directing Senior Choir rehearsals and Evensong services at times when Nick is away. Dominique was out for a number of weeks in the winter due to a concussion, and Karis Tees, our Chapel Administrator, covered Probationers’ rehearsals during that time. Thank you to Karis for stepping in to help us during that time.
New this season, we have started providing private voice lessons for all of our Senior Choir choristers with Janelle Lucyk. Janelle comes to most Friday rehearsals and spends 10-15 minutes working with individual choristers. This is having a beautiful effect on the choir.
We feel extremely grateful to the Chapel community for all the support it shows the choir. We would also like to thank Dean Paul Smith and the Rev. Helen Ryding for their support of Capella Regalis at the Cathedral. And, of course, we are ever grateful to all the individuals who donate to the choir and make our work possible.
Submitted March 27, 2017