National Youth Choir of Canada

National Youth Choir of Canada (NYC). Auditioned 40-voice youth choir, established in 1984 by the Association of Canadian Choral Communities (ACCC).

National Youth Choir of Canada

National Youth Choir of Canada (NYC). Auditioned 40-voice youth choir, established in 1984 by the Association of Canadian Choral Communities (ACCC). Begun by the ACCC as a pilot project, the first National Youth Choir of Canada met under director John Standing over three days during the ACCC's first national convention in Winnipeg, 1984. The project was a success, and the second NYC was formed in Vancouver over a 10-day period during the 1986 national meeting of the ACCC. The choir has continued to meet biennially in conjunction with the ACCC's choral conference in such cities as Sackville, NB (1988), Waterloo, ON (1992), Quebec City (1996), Halifax, NS (1998), Winnipeg (2004) and Saskatoon (2010). Past conductors of the NYC have included Jon Washburn (1986), Elmer Iseler (1992), Diane Loomer (1994), Iwan Edwards (1998), Leonard Ratzlaff (2000), Kathryn Laurin (2004) and Victoria Meredith (2010).

The goal of the NYC is to promote Canada's choral scene and to foster a national network of young, knowledgeable, and skilled choral singers. Members of the NYC range from age 18 to 25 and are auditioned biennially by their respective provincial choral federations. Successful singers participate in a week of intensive rehearsals in the host city of the ACCC conference, followed by a week-long provincial tour and a final concert, performed at the conference and broadcast on the CBC radio program "Choral Concert."

The choir's repertoire is chosen by the conductor, but generally ranges from the baroque to the contemporary. An important function of the NYC since its inception has been to showcase Canadian composers and premiere new works. Beginning in 1999 the ACCC has hosted the biennial Competition for Choral Writing; winning compositions are performed by the NYC during its tour. Among the premieres were Ramona Luengen's Mésange, 2000; Allan Bevan's Echo, 2002; and Jeff Smallman's Brier, 2004.

Performance highlights have included the premiere of Lloyd Burritt's Song for Marshall McLuhan at Expo 86' in Vancouver and a performance at the 1993 World Symposium on Choral Music, also in Vancouver.

In addition to providing opportunities for singers, the National Youth Choir offers professional development for young conductors through its Conducting Apprenticeship Program. Established in 1998, the program allows a chosen apprentice to work closely with the conductor, observe rehearsals and lead the choir in concert for select pieces.


Further Reading

  • Osborne, Sheila. "The National Youth Choir 1986," Opus, vol 21, no 1, 1986

    "National Youth Choir Conducting Apprenticeship Program," Chorus, vol 22, no 3, 1997

    Anacrusis, vol 25, special issue, Spring 2006

    Standing, John. "In his own words: John Standing, first conductor of the National Youth Choir," Anacrusis, vol 25, no 3, Summer 2006