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Spencer Belyea directs the choir
Spencer Belyea, left, directs the choir during rehearsal. McKnight photo

Choir school strikes a chord

By Gisele McKnight

What do you get when you combine gifted musicians, talented mentors and eager kids? Beautiful music at Diocesan Choir School.

For eight days July 5-12, 30 children and teenagers from ages 8-18 gathered at Rothesay-Netherwood School in Rothesay for the 58th annual choir school. Guiding and challenging them were musicians, support staff and spiritual mentors. And joining them for the last few days were dozens of adults with a love of choral singing.

At the culmination of the week, at Trinity Anglican Church in uptown Saint John, there were about 100 adult and young voices presenting a fully-sung Evensong Service.

“A lot of people come to the service,” said administrative director the Rev. Chris Hayes. “Tourists from the [cruise] ships come, parents, families. We’ve had 500 people there.”

But before that could happen, there were plenty of rehearsals. Spencer Belyea, organist and music director at Trinity, and Christopher Lane, organist and choir director at St. David’s United Church in Rothesay, shared music director duties this year.

Dr. Willis Noble, director of music at Christ Church Cathedral, was the adult clinician. Accompanist was Nhat-Viet Phi (Toto), music director at St. George’s Anglican Church in Moncton and an accompanist and music teacher at L’univérsité de Moncton.

Nhat-Viet Phi (Toto) was the pianist for choir school
Nhat-Viet Phi (Toto) was the accompanist for choir school. McKnight photo

“I really like the group collaboration,” said Nhat-Viet . “I like the fellowship, good times, smiles, jokes, stories — and of course, the music.” This is his ninth year at Diocesan Choir School.

Music and friendships are a recurring theme among attendees as well. Patrick Lynn, 16, who attends Christ Church Cathedral, was at choir school for the eighth time, meaning he began as a mere eight-year-old. This year he’s a counsellor-in-training, mentoring younger singers.

“We’ve really built a community,” he said. “It’s a fun week. We worship God together. We love music and we sing great music.”



Gisele McKnight is the communications officer for the Diocese of Fredericton.

Diocesan Communications
21 July 2015