On Sunday, April 11th, The Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Corner Brook, NL, officially launched its Choral Scholars Programme. Occurring just two days after Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passed away, it seemed fitting to recall that our Choral Scholars Programme began when Dr. Jennifer Matthews encouraged her voice students to complete volunteer requirements for their Duke of Edinburgh award at their home church in the fall of 2020. Charlotte Guy (soprano), and Maria Veitch (mezzo-soprano/alto) became the first choral scholars and were subsequently joined by Matthew Sherstobetoff (tenor), and Levi Jacobsen (bass/baritone).
The Choral Scholars are integral to the musical life of the cathedral. As classically trained singers who are members of the cathedral choir, they assist the choir in singing hymns in four parts or adding descants, but also sing solo and ensemble anthems. As young scholars, they are learning both historic and contemporary choral repertoire and liturgical music such as plainsong chant, the Merbecke mass, and hymns, and classical anthems from all eras.
The scholars range in age from intermediate school to university level, but are already accomplished musicians who have sung regularly in the local Rotary Music Festival, as well as in numerous local and travelling choral ensembles: e.g., the teen-aged female group, The Cantabiles (Maria and Charlotte), The Graham Academy Musical Theatre Troupe (Maria, Charlotte and Matthew), The Atlantic Boy Choir (Matthew and Levi), and the Bay of Islands Musical Arts (BIMA) Chorus and the BIMA Young Men’s Chorus (Matthew and Levi), as well as in local school choirs. Additionally, all choral scholars play orchestral and band instruments such as flute (Charlotte and Maria), trombone (Matthew), and tenor saxophone (Levi).
Funding for this programme comes from several sources: a grant from the Bruneau Centre for Choral Excellence at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), donations by the cathedral vestry and parishioners to The Aaron Bradbury Memorial Choral Scholars Fund, and a donation from Western Diocesan Bishop John Organ’s discretionary fund. At the launch, the Bishop also announced a donation for the cathedral to enhance its recording equipment to better capture the quality of music performed at the cathedral for online services.
The Choral Scholars Programme is overseen by founder and vocal coach, Dr. Jennifer Matthews, the cathedral’s Vicar Choral and liturgist, Fr. P. Lynn Braye, and cathedral organist/choirmaster, Dr. Doreen Helen Klassen. The Choral Scholars can be heard at the cathedral on Sunday mornings at 10, and in services on the cathedral’s Facebook page.