The Choir

Photo courtesy of Greg Locke / NSO.

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.

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.

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!

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 $175 per season at present (with music and special costs such as Festival 500 fees being extra).

Our Director

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.  As organist, he has performed in numerous prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall (USA) St. Paul’s Cathedral (England) Meistersinger Hall (Germany) St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Ireland) and St. Mary’s Cathedral (Scotland).  He is currently the Conductor of the PCNSO and the Artistic Director of the St. John’s Choir.

Our Accompanist

Dr. Phil Roberts has served as visiting assistant professor of piano for the School of Music at Memorial University, as accompanist and vocal coach for the instrumental and vocal faculties at Memorial, and as a much sought-after collaborative colleague in the larger St. John’s community. His solo and collaborative work has taken him across Canada and to the U.S. and Europe, where his impressively broad performance skills have allowed him to enjoy work in the genres of jazz, opera and musical theatre as well as classical chamber music. Phil was the founder and executive director of PlayPianoNL, an organization that helped to build a community of pianists in Newfoundland and Labrador and to inspire a deep love of the piano in countless young musicians.

Dr. Roberts holds graduate degrees in piano performance from the University of Montreal and has nearly a decade of experience teaching at the university level. He is currently a freelance musician in St John’s, NL, as well as the pianist of Trinitas Chamber Ensemble ( Dr. Roberts also runs a hybrid online/in-person piano studio with students across Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to his piano work, Dr. Roberts is also the Director of the St. John’s Chamber Choir, Associate Director of the St. John’s Choir, and pianist for the Philharmonic Choir of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (PCNSO), and is the Music Director at Cowan Heights United Church in St. John’s.