- School Life
St. Michael’s Choir School provides sacred music of the highest calibre to St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica and the Archdiocese of Toronto, and maintains a high standard of music performance through concerts and touring. Its musical goal is to serve God, the Universal Church, the Archdiocese and the community with commitment and joy through sacred music.
The choral program at St. Michael’s Choir School is designed to foster a lifelong interest in music. Many graduates go on to serve the musical life of their own parishes, while some pursue professional careers in music. The course of study includes daily classroom instruction in music rudiments, singing and weekly individual lessons in piano.
Service to the cathedral remains the focus for all choral activities. Three of the school’s choirs sing weekly at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, as well as providing music for weddings and funeral liturgies and Cathedral events and services. At the same time, St. Michael’s Choir School has a long tradition of sharing its music with others by giving concerts in various communities, at churches and music festivals, and undertaking annual tours in Canada and abroad.
In order to serve the musical needs of the Cathedral liturgies, a number of choirs are formed from the student body:
Grades 3 and 4 are considered training years, where every student begins to learn the necessary skills to become choristers. During these two years, students prepare for service in St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica and sing occasional Masses each year, including Christmas Eve and Pentecost. The Elementary Choir sings in the Massey Hall Christmas concert, as well as the annual Founder’s Day and Spring concerts and appears occasionally in other venues. The Elementary Choir is under the direction of Teri Dunn
Regular, weekly Sunday duty at the cathedral begins when the student enters this choir in Grade 5. At an investiture ceremony during their first Mass in September, the Grade 5 boys pledge their service as choristers in the cathedral. As a sign of the parents’ involvement and commitment to the choral program, parents or guardians vest their son with his surplice for the first time. At present, the Junior Choir sings at the 10:00 a.m. Mass every Sunday, including Christmas and March breaks. In addition to Sundays, the Junior Choir sings at Christmas and Holy Week in the Cathedral. The Junior Choir also sings in the Massey Hall Christmas concert. Touring typically begins in Grade 5, with the Junior Choir touring with the whole school in some years, and on its own in others. The Junior Choir is under the direction of Maria Conkey.
Students in these grades are divided into two senior SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choirs. Some will sing at the Saturday 5 p.m. Mass, and others at the Sunday 12 noon Mass. The weekly obligation includes Sundays during the Christmas and March breaks. In addition to Sundays, the Senior Choirs sing at the Christmas Eve Midnight and Christmas Day 12 noon Mass. The Senior Choir also sings in the Massey Hall Christmas concert. During Holy Week, the full Senior Choir (both Saturday and Sunday groups) sings on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil (Saturday) and Easter Sunday. The Senior Choir is under the direction of Bryan Priddy and Teri Dunn conducting Saturday and Sunday Masses.
All students in the Senior Choir with changed voices become part of the Tenor Bass Choir in addition to their Senior Choir studies. The Tenor Bass choir sings certain Masses over the course of the year and performs its own programme at the Founder’s Day, Massey Hall and Spring concerts. The Tenor Bass Choir is under the direction of Teri Dunn.
Students from St. Michael’s Choir School provide music for Masses at the following times during the school year:
|Saturday||5:00 pm||Saturday Senior Choir|
|Sunday||10:00 am||Junior Choir|
|Sunday||12:00 noon||Sunday Senior Choir|
The Choir School provides music for the following Masses and services, in addition to weekly Masses:
The SMCSAA provides music for the following Masses and services, in addition to the dates given above:
Msgr. John Edward Ronan was larger than life. He was an imposing ram-rod-straight physical specimen six feet in height, broad-shouldered, and heavy set with a luxuriant, snowy mane. . . He commanded the absolute respect and obedience of all – from the youngest student to the most senior staff member – including his co-founders. He was THE BOSS in no uncertain terms. And yet we all loved him dearly and would do anything for him. Peter Daly, SMCS ’57
Every year, the St. Michael’s Choir School community comes together in mid-October to celebrate Founder’s Day, honouring the life and work of Choir School founder Msgr. John Edward Ronan. Normally taking place in St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, this annual concert opens the concert season and often features the works of the founder and various alumni and teachers from across the school’s history.
As the first major concert of the year, this is normally the first Choir School concert for new students, especially those in Grades 3 and 4.
Freewill offering - no tickets required.
Since 1965, choristers have made their way from Bond Street to the grand dame of Shuter Street in December to sing the songs of Christmas. The annual Massey Hall concerts are a cornerstone of the choral year, beloved by students, parents, alumni and music aficionados alike. The historic concert hall, which has played host to so many great figures of the musical world, is an intimate venue where audiences have a firsthand experience of the musical accomplishments of the Choirs.
Every year, Massey Hall brings together choristers and alumni with special guests, and showcases our usual passion for the great choral works of the season. Tickets can be purchased online through the Massey Hall Roy Thomson Hall Box Office.
As the school year draws to a close, the Choir School family comes together to celebrate in song with this annual Spring concert at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. Performing repertoire last sung on tour, the entire student body fills the cathedral with their voices. The Spring Concert also represents the last time that graduating choristers will sing in concert with the full student body, as the concert normally takes place only a few short weeks before their graduation.
Freewill offering - no tickets required.
Congratulations! If you have already made a booking for your wedding date at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica and would like to have music provided by St. Michael’s Choir School, please complete a Wedding Music Booking Form, and you will be contacted by our Wedding Music coordinator. St. Michael’s Choir School can provide one of the following:
A Wedding Choir will arrive at least one hour before your wedding, and will wear dress uniform for the ceremony (blazer, dress shirt and tie, grey uniform trousers and black dress shoes). They will be chaperoned by their conductor.
All couples completing a Wedding Music Booking Form must have already had their first meeting with a priest at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. Please do not use this form unless you have already had this meeting and received a wedding booklet from the priest.
If your family has been bereaved and will hold a funeral at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, please call us directly at 647-613-6367. Because funerals are often held during school hours, it is important we have as much time as possible to rearrange classroom schedules. Cathedral funerals are accommodated wherever possible, but please note that St. Michael’s Choir School travels at Christmas and in springtime, and may have other events that prevent a choir from singing at your loved one’s funeral. In these cases, we will be happy to refer you to our alumni musicians, who can provide professional quality music.
Do you have a corporate event, community concert or parish celebration that you would like to invite St. Michael’s Choir School to participate in? Please submit your request using the form below. Please let us know if your event supports a charitable cause. Requests will be considered in the order they are received, so please ensure you submit your request at least six weeks before an event. Christmas and Easter are especially busy seasons at St. Michael’s Choir School, and choir availability is limited.
St. Michael’s Choir School provides primarily sacred music. While we welcome requests for specific pieces, we are not always able to accommodate these requests due to the amount of rehearsal time required for students to learn brand new pieces. The Choir School’s mission is to provide sacred music to St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, and the demands required to fulfill this duty limit the rehearsal time available to prepare other pieces.
St. Michael’s Choir School has provided professional quality national anthems for sporting events, government functions, regional trade conferences and national corporate gatherings. Generally, a choir of 8-12 singers provided to an event within the City of Toronto costs approximately $500, though this price is subject to review depending on the specific needs of your event. Choirs will be chaperoned by at least one member of staff, and, where necessary, will include a student or staff accompanist and conductor. To request a choir for a national anthem at your event, please fill out the form below.
Your event request will be considered by the staff at St. Michael's Choir School, and we will contact you as soon as possible to let you know whether or not a choir can be provided for your event. Please note that while we endeavor to provide music to as many events as we can, we experience particularly busy seasons during the Christmas period and in spring.