Musical priests sing for charity’s sake

Published March 1, 2000

Rev. Bill Cliff, Very Rev. Peter Wall and Rev. David Pickett rehearse with accompanist Angus Sinclair.

FOR THREE YEARS, three priests of the Diocese of Huron have been singing in benefit concerts. In early 1997, they thought their work would be a one-time thing.

As they say, the rest is history.

Through some 35 benefit concerts, accompanied by CD sales, Rev. David Pickett, Rev. Bill Cliff and Very Rev. Peter Wall have raised an incredible $125,000 for the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. The fund forms partnerships around the world to relieve hunger and aid sustainable development by helping people to help themselves.

“Every concert includes a minimum component designated to PWRDF,” Mr. Pickett said.

Mr. Pickett, Mr. Cliff and Dean Wall are all baritones, and the arrangements and accompaniments of keyboardist Angus Sinclair accentuate their talents. (In fact, Mr. Sinclair’s role is so crucial to the ensemble’s success that Archbishop Michael Peers has quipped “I’d like to express appreciation to all four of the Three Cantors.”)

Indeed, appreciation for what the Three Cantors do is widespread, and understandable. Andrew Ignatieff, the director of the Primate’s Fund, puts it this way: “I will always mention their kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness if ever a member of the media or public has the temerity to question the generosity of Canadians in hard times with many competing demands on their pocket books. It is an inspiration to us in furthering the work of the PWRDF and our partners.”

The men involved have a firm focus on what is important with respect to this ministry. Mr. Pickett, for one, is pleased “to represent the Anglican Church in a positive light.”

Fund-raising for the ministry of Primate’s Fund, then, is the focus, but these priests can really sing! Furthermore, they have a knack for putting together an eclectic program that appeals, especially, to the “church-event-going” demographic.

Concerts are a blend of ancient church music and contemporary anthems on the one hand, to Broadway standards, folk tunes, and original feel-good pop on the other. That they are engaging with their audience and involve them in sing-alongs is icing on the cake.

People outside of the touring circuit of Mr. Pickett, the rector of St. Jude’s Church in Brantford; Mr. Cliff, the rector of Strathroy and Adelaide; and Dean Wall, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton can still enjoy their talents while supporting the Primate’s Fund.

Two CDs are available – a double CD from a concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and a late 1999-released Christmas CD. Call the Diocese of Huron in London or consult the group’s Web site at for further information.

And the best news is this. Every penny of the proceeds of CD sales go to benefit the Huron Hunger Fund, Huron’s partner to the Primate’s Fund.


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