Confederation Centre of the Arts Choirs
Confederation Centre of the Arts choirs, Charlottetown. Two choirs that originated in the Confederation Choir, a mixed-voice group formed in 1963 from the nucleus of the Charlottetown Chorale, which had sung since 1951 under William Keith Rogers and Christopher Gledhill. The Confederation Choir survived integrally until Feb 1974, conducted successively by Royston Mugford, Margaret Hall, and Mark LeRoux. In 1974 it was succeeded by the Confederation Madrigal Choir of 16 voices. This, with the Confederation Centre Boys' Choir, continued under the direction of LeRoux, who was succeeded by Neil Houlton in 1978.
Gwilym Bevan - b near Pontypool, Wales, 8 Nov 1925, naturalized Canadian 1974; ARCCO (Choirmaster) 1970, Diploma in education (McGill) 1974, FTCL 1969, honorary FRCCO 1987, honorary LL D (PEI) 1990 - was director of music of the Confederation Centre and conductor of the choirs 1979-91. Bevan had been organist and choir director at large churches in Ontario (in Brockville, Kitchener, and London) and had given organ recitals across Canada, in Britain (including a 1969 recital in the chapel of Kings' College, Cambridge), and in the US. He expanded the Confederation Centre adult oratorio choir to approximately 80 voices, and in 1980 the name Confederation Singers was adopted. Under his direction, the choir performed an average of three concerts per year and featured the large choral works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Fauré, Dvořák and Puccini with the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra and other instrumentalists.
The Children's Choirs
The 30-voice Confederation Centre Boys' Choir, formed in 1973, toured across Canada and to the US and Bermuda. They broadcast on national TV in Latin America and on BBC TV.The 60-voice Confederation Centre Girls' Choir made two extensive tours in Great Britain (1985, 1988), toured Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, and sang at the 1989 International Choral Festival. In 1993, the Boys' Choir and the Girls' Choir joined to form the Confederation Centre Children's Choir, which changed its name to the Confederation Centre Youth Chorus in 2004.
In addition to standard major works, the choirs occasionally have performed contemporary pieces. The boys' choir has sung Christopher Gledhill's Abegweit Suite and Keith Bissell's Christmas in Canada, as well as many of Bissell's folksong arrangements. The girls' and boys' choirs have been recorded on Young Islanders Sing (private recording 1981) and cassette recordings of live concerts in Britain (1985, 1988) and British Columbia (1986, 1990) were made available through the Confederation Centre, and in 2002 the Children's Choir recorded the CD On Tour.
Activities 1990s and Beyond
In 1991, Donald Fraser - b PEI, B MUS (Mount Allison University), M MUS (University of Toronto); musical director of the Charlottetown Festival; lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Prince Edward Island - succeeded Bevan as director of the Centre's choral music program and conductor of the choirs.
The Youth Chorus tours every spring to venues in Canada, the US and Europe. As well, it performs at community events and twice annually at the Confederation Centre's main stage: Sing Noel in December, featuring traditional and contemporary Christmas carols, and Voices in Spring, usually in April, featuring seasonal music. The Confederation Singers give four major performances each year: Handel's Messiah and a Sing-along Messiah in December, Choral Music on a Holy Day on Good Friday, and a major oratorio in spring.