The Peterborough Singers Are Asking for Your Help

This is a financial appeal from the Peterborough Singers.  We know you probably don’t like receiving unsolicited financial appeals – we don’t like sending them.  But the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Peterborough Singers very hard.

Please keep reading for


We won’t turn our back on you! (Guest artist Nick Veltmeyer at our 2019 Messiah performance)

A letter from our Board Chair

Dear friends and music lovers,

As you probably know, we have decided to cancel our 2020-21 concert season, based on the best available scientific advice to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We know this is hard for our audience, many of whom have told us how much they look forward to our concerts. This is very hard on our singers, because these concerts are a key part of who we are as a choral family. It is also hard on us financially, as ticket sales are the majority of our income.

When we made this decision, we considered shutting down completely and hoping for better times next year, but we felt that would be failing our community. This choir is a large part of the lives of our singers. When so much has been taken from us, we feel compelled to keep singing. Shutting down would have also meant the loss of our administrative and artistic staff, and our core of dedicated volunteers. That would make it very tough for us to get started again after the pandemic risk has passed.

We believe the future of this choir depends on staying active and vital. We are continuing to experiment with various online activities, and we’ve planned some creative undertakings to allow us to sing safely in small groups. We also intend to provide some treats for our audience, such as online events and new recordings.

We’ve always appreciated the generosity and enthusiasm of the Peterborough Singers’ community, and we thank you for considering our request.

Carey Gibson, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Chair, Peterborough Singers Board of Directors


Our Artistic Director knows how to make bridges. (Syd at his cottage last summer)

A message from our Artistic Director

I am writing to ask your help. It is not easy for me to write this letter. I have no live performances to share with you. I can no longer bring choir and audience together.

For almost three decades, I have poured my soul into building this great choir, full of such talented people, supported by an extremely generous audience, a community that has supported one another through thick and thin, my family being a prime example, and now it is all under threat.

Four weeks ago, after much deliberation, our COVID-19 recovery committee recommended that we cancel our concert season, and the Peterborough Singers’ board implemented that recommendation. Much thought was given to possibilities offered by Zoom and virtual performances, and for four months we logged into countless Zoom seminars to learn the best way to make use of technology to keep choir activity going. The scientists in our midst carefully read many research papers on singing as they were published.

For our choir members, the experience of online singing has been less than satisfactory. For some the social connection of these experiments was of value, but for all the musical element was far less than satisfactory. Singing alone to your computer is not what anyone signed up for. For some choristers the attempts unexpectedly brought great sadness, as the exercise in solo singing in your home just magnified how much has been lost.

Anything less than a live concert season, singing with 100 other choristers, shoulder-to-shoulder, breathing the same air, striving for choral excellence, savoring the camaraderie, was not something they could manage in these difficult times. Other choristers in the choir expressed an interest in exploring small-group singing, working within government guidelines and incorporating the results of many research projects around the world on safe singing. There is risk inherent in almost every action one takes — it’s the management of that risk that allows us to reap rewards.

So here’s what we’re going to do for this Bridge Year. We will offer choristers the chance to sign up for the elective of their choice, ranging from English church music to Broadway, from African-American spirituals to Renaissance music, singing in small groups of fewer than 18 people in large halls, physically distant and wearing a mask.

Yes, for now we are abandoning big-choir singing of the great choral works, and instead we are focussing on the emotional wellness of our members. Let’s have some fun while we wait for a vaccine.

Our financial team has developed a “no concert” budget to support this plan. And of course no concerts means a huge drop in revenue. Ongoing choir membership fees, our reserve funds, and the support of various granting agencies will pay for part, but not all of this reduced budget. I hope you will help by donating to the Peterborough Singers.

After grieving our lost concert season we are now eagerly looking forward to making music together in whatever way we can, and to taking care of each other. If it is within your means to support our Bridge season we would be very grateful.

Sydney Birrell, F.R.C.O., G.R.S.M., A.R.C.M
Artistic Director, The Peterborough Singers


Remembering happier times. (One of our recent spring concerts)


Information on how you can help

We anticipate a deficit of $45,000 this year.  Any donation that you can afford, large or small, will help.  You can donate online at or by mail or phone using the information below.  Donations through Canada Helps are also accepted. Income tax receipts will be issued.

If you have questions or comments, or are looking for other donation options, please contact our office:

Peterborough Singers
P.O. Box 2146
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 7Y4
Phone:  705-745-1820   (Office hours:  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10 am – 4 pm)

This is a difficult time for a lot of organizations. No doubt this isn’t the only appeal you’ve been getting recently. But if music holds a special place in your life – if you believe in the power of live music – then we ask that you consider making a donation to the Peterborough Singers.

Thank you.


Photo credits (in order): Alan Wotherspoon, Carey Gibson, Jason Ryan, Jason Ryan, unknown