Cathedral plans musical tricentennial festivities

Published January 1, 1999

Newfoundlanders are preparing to celebrate the 300th anniversary this year of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in St. John’s and music will be a big part of it.

“To the best of our knowledge, this makes the parish of St. John the Baptist the oldest in Canada,” said Roger Whalen, chair of the musical events committee for the 1999 festivities.

Plans are under way for a variety of musical events, including a national Anglican choir, similar to the 100th anniversary celebrations in the Diocese of Ottawa two years ago. The national choir will perform in St. John’s from June 24 to June 27.

“We hope the choir will be composed of members from most, if not all, of the dioceses across Canada,” Mr. Whalen said. “There will be between 70 and 100 singers involved in this celebration.”

Singers will travel to St. John’s from as far away as Whitehorse.

Throughout the year, there will be events featuring soloists from the cathedral choir, others with visiting organists, and one in April featuring the choir of Canterbury Cathedral.

Also in the works is an inter-denominational hymn-sing, with choir and congregation members from various churches in the St. John’s area.

“I’m very excited,” Mr. Whalen said. “As we get closer to the time I’m both nervous and excited.”

Fund-raising has already begun to help pay the airfare of visiting singers.

Mr. Whalen said airline tickets will be the most expensive part of bringing the national choir together.

He’s asking anyone who has Air Miles or frequent travellers’ points with one of the major airlines to donate their points in order to help the singers get to Newfoundland. He said most frequent travellers’ programs allow people to donate their points to charities.

Giles Bryant and Frances Macdonnell, choir directors and organists at the cathedrals in Toronto and Ottawa, are planning to be in St. John’s next June. Dr. Bryant will conduct the Saturday night concert and Ms. Macdonnell will conduct the Friday night Evensong. The Sunday eucharist will be conducted by Sharon Whalen, choir director at St. John the Baptist.

Mr. Whalen said he’s looking forward to “bringing people together from across the country” for both “fellowship and music.”


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