The Choir

The Philharmonic Choir of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (PCNSO) is a community choir based in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.  Founded in 1987 as an oratorio choir specifically to perform Handel's Messiah with the NSO, the PCNSO has broadened itself substantially and now performs several concerts each season with a wide variety of repertoire.  The PCNSO continues to be dedicated to working cooperatively with the NSO to foster and perform symphonic choral music.

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The mission of the choir can be summarized in the following three goals:

  • To work toward becoming the finest choral ensemble it can be, thereby providing its singers with one of the most fulfilling musical and educational experiences of their lives.
  • To make all those associated (executive committee members, singers and supporters) proud and excited to be a part of the organization.
  • To provide significant, worthwhile and beautiful choral performances to the greater St. John's community.

Director

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Stephen Candow holds a MMus from the University of Toronto (2001), and the conjoint BMus/BMusEd (1998) from Memorial University. Further abroad he has studied choral conducting and organ in Dublin, Ireland, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, and at the International Summer Academy in Göteborg, Sweden. In 2011, Stephen returned to Newfoundland from Ottawa, where he was the Director of Music and conductor for the prestigious choir of Gentlemen & Boys at St. Matthew’s Church and the Choral Instructor at Ashbury College. His other previous posts include: Guinness Organ Scholar at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, Assistant Director of Music in Canada’s “Methodist Cathedral”, Metropolitan United, Toronto. A well-known choral accompanist, Stephen has been the accompanist for the Anglican Chorale of Ottawa, the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir(Shallaway), Toronto’s Voices, and Ottawa’s Seventeen Voyces. Stephen enjoys working with singers both as a conductor, vocal coach and accompanist, and has worked with various choirs in Ireland, England and Canada. He is also the on the artistic team of the Atlantic Boychoir, serves as Artistic Director of the St. John’s Choir and is the Director of Music & Organist at St. Michael and All Angels Church.

Accompanist

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Born in St. John’s, Michael Fagan began studying piano at the age of 7 with the Philharmonic Choir’s own Margaret Murray-Reed (soprano). His involvement in the music program at St. Bonaventure’s College as a student consisted of numerous bands in which he played many different instruments, including clarinet, mallet percussion, piano, alto/baritone saxophone, and melodica. As well as his private studies in piano, he studied clarinet privately with Lorne Buick and Paul Bendzsa throughout junior high and high school.

Michael graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music degree, studying under Dr. Kristina Szutor. During that time, he accompanied the MUN Festival Choir, MUN Wind Ensemble, and multiple chamber music ensembles. He recently completed his studies for the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Michael is also the accompanist at St. Teresa’s Parish in St. John’s, and has occasionally accompanied at numerous parishes throughout the city, including St. Paul’s Parish, St. Pius X Parish, St. Patrick’s Parish, and the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Highlights from his musical career to date include multiple recordings for CBC’s Musicraft program, travelling and competing with the St. Bonaventure’s College Music Program in 2007 (Florida, USA) and 2009 (California, USA), and touring with the MUN Wind Ensemble in 2013 and 2014. Michael is also actively involved in accompanying for festivals, weddings, private functions, and other events throughout the city and Avalon peninsula, and continually works to improve his technique and abilities. Taking listeners on a musical journey is something that Michael aspires to do with every rehearsal and performance.

Choristers

The PCNSO's singers range in age from twenty to eighty years and come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Some are present or former professional musicians and music educators, but many are working professionals and retired persons. We even have several members of the clergy and a Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland!

A complete list of choir members is available.

Membership is open to anyone following successful completion of an audition in the fall and payment of choir dues. Under normal circumstances full-time students are not accepted due to the likelihood of conflicts with the student's exam and study schedules. Dues are $150 per season at present (with music and special costs such as Festival 500 fees being extra).