Originally formed as the Peterborough Symphony Singers in 1990, the Peterborough Singers (PS) became a stand-alone entity in 1993.
The highly regarded choir boasts upwards of 100 members under the direction of Sydney Birrell. World-class, professional Canadian soloists enjoy performing with the choir time and again.
Within a radius of 160 km, the Peterborough Singers is the only choral organization to have introduced the arts community to figures such as Gary Relyea, Mark Dubois, Sally Dibblee, Measha Brueggergosman, Brett Polegato, Curtis Sullivan, and violinist, Martin Beaver. Guest conductors to the PS have included Srul Irving Glick, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Lee Willingham, Elmer Iseler, Eleanor Daley, and Paul Halley.
Music for Everyone
Each season, the choir presents four or five concerts, incorporating a blend of repertoire from gospel to sacred to pop to oratorio. Classical highlights include St. Matthew Passion, Elijah, the annual Messiah, Carmina Burana, and Bach's B Minor Mass, which was a crowning achievement for the choir’s 10th anniversary. Other popular concerts have featured the musical and comedic talents of Natalie Choquette, the famous and charismatic Michael Burgess, and the stirring sounds of spirituals under the direction of Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, whose own professional chamber choir, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, headed for Washington to join the celebrations around President Obama’s inauguration.
In 2012, the 100-voice Singers performed Quartetto e Cento with the world-renowned Toronto-based Quartetto Gelato. For over a decade, this dazzling ensemble has enchanted audiences and critics worldwide with its exotic blend of musical virtuosity, artistic passion, and charismatic anecdotes.
Supporting Canadian Composers
By way of commemorating it's tenth anniversary year, and as a tribute to founder and conductor Sydney Birrell, the Peterborough Singers commissioned a work by Canadian composer, Dr. Mark Sirett, "Where Love and Charity Live." The choir performed this commission at the first concert of the 2003-2004 season, and welcomed Dr. Sirett as guest conductor for this debut.
To celebrate its fifteenth season, the Singers commissioned a work by composer Stephen Chatman and invited the composer to conduct this and other of his choral compositions at the choir’s Prelude to Spring concert. The commissioned piece “How Still it is Here in the Woods,” is based on a poem by Archibald Lampman.
In 2011, our Carols with Brass concert featured a newly commissioned composition by Len Ballantine. Learn more about these commissioned pieces.
Enhancing music curriculum in schools
Each year the Peterborough Singers provides the opportunity for students to attend an educational performance and workshop featuring the talent of the choir.
Past educational performances have included
- Beatles 101, featuring the talent of youth members of the choir
- Mr. and Mrs. Mozart, introducing Mozart's Requiem to grades 5 – 8
- Freedom Songs with renowned educator Brainerd Blyden-Tayor
- Opera music with Montreal opera diva Natalie Choquette
Sight singing classes
The Peterborough Singers offers regular sight-singing classes for current choristers as well as interested community members.
Contact the Peterborough Singers office for information about upcoming educational opportunities for students or sight-singing classes.
The Peterborough Singers have been deeply involved in a partnership for Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children initiative to raise awareness and funds with the James Birrell Fund for Neuroblastoma Research. The PS commissioned a work by Grammy award winning Canadian composer Paul Halley, "House in Heaven" for which actor Tom Hanks provided the endorsement on the CD jacket and also signed 100 copies. All proceeds from the 2500 CD's sold have gone to fighting childhood cancer. Through the sale of this CD and the "Gift of Song" CD (with soloist Measha Brueggergosman's recording debut) seven years ago, the choir has raised $25,000 for cancer research. To learn more about CDs and sheet music, visit our recordings page.
The PS also had a team in the Dragon Boat Races, participated in the Run for the Cure, partnered with Veteran’s Affairs in presenting Songs of World War II, and gave a free community concert of Paul Halley’s Earth Mass at the Silver Bean Café and another for the Sisters of St. Joseph upon the closing of their facility. The choir regularly performs Christmas music in hospitals and long-term care facilities as a gesture of goodwill and participates in other community concerts and activities as they come up.