The Director

About Our Artistic DirectorSyd Birrell, Artistic Director

Sydney Birrell, F.R.C.O, G.R.S.M., A.R.C.M. is the founder and conductor of the Peterborough Singers, as well as organist at Lakefield College School. Syd was born in Sarnia, Ontario, and began his career as a young chorister at St. George's Anglican Church, Montreal. He studied at the Royal School of Church Music in London, England, and the Royal College of Music, winning a Sawyer Prize in Organ performance. Returning to Canada in 1975, he took the post of organist and choirmaster at St. John's Anglican Church in Peterborough until 1984. Syd performs regularly and has given organ recitals across Canada and in Mexico and the USA. Outside of music, Syd is well known in Canadian paediatric cancer research circles for his work in raising awareness and funds to find a cure for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer, through the James Birrell Fund for Neuroblastoma Research at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. Syd is also a published writer and an inspirational speaker for the National Speaker's Bureau.


A Few Words from Our Artistic Director: Celebrating 25 Years

Twenty-five years ago, I asked famed Canadian choral conductor Dr. Elmer Iseler to conduct the closing concert of our inaugural season in a performance of Carmina Burana, with the Elmer Iseler Singers singing alongside the newly born Peterborough Singers. What a concert that was! Dr. Iseler was blown away by the choir, and a few weeks later, I was fortunate to be able to chat with Elmer and his wife Jessie about the future of the Singers. Elmer said, “Don’t be afraid of musicians who are better than you! Expose your choir to greatness. Bring in the best!” I believe that this piece of wisdom has much to do with the continued success of this remarkable choir, and in our silver anniversary season, we will once again welcome some of Canada’s finest artists to our midst.

But this "silver" year is also an opportunity for choir members to take ownership -- by choosing their favourite music from the first 25 years. We will present this music at our matinee concert on Feb 24th (sorry, no concert with only pop music this season!). In addition, we will bring back many of our guest artists from the past. So it will be 25 of our favourite songs from the first 25 years! Yes, we will sing our epic Messiah, and please don’t miss our Yuletide Cheer concert, and our season will close with one of the greatest oratorios written, Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Please join us next season!

25 of our favourite songs from the first 25 years!

Syd Birrell, Artistic Director, The Peterborough Singers, 2016