Charmaine Sims

Charmaine Sims

Choir eyes Big Apple

NANAIMO - Nanaimo Conservatory of Music launches fundraising campaign to send its youth choir to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Members of the Nanaimo Youth Choir have their sights set on the Big Apple and the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall.

The choir, a program created by the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music, has been invited to perform during the Distinguished Concerts International New York in June 2016. The youth would join members of other international choirs on stage.

“Going to New York and Carnegie Hall has always been a dream of mine,” said Charmaine Sims, 17, a member of the youth choir. “It’s an honour. It’s a privilege.”

Sims said members were amazed when they learned about the opportunity.

“It’s going to make a big impact on our lives,” she said.

Kathleen Darby, executive director for the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music, said the youth choir is “one of the crown jewels” of the conservatory programs and over the years it has won countless awards.

Since it was created in 1992 the choir has received top honours for its class at the B.C. Festival of the Arts six times. The Nanaimo Youth Choir is for youth ages five to 19 and all members must audition. It’s the older members, 15 in total, will be the group travelling to New York.

“It’s an opportunity to show the world Nanaimo is an incredible place,” said Darby. “We are pumping out amazing talent from the city and this is an example.”

It’s an exciting, once in a lifetime opportunity said Marian Smith, choir artistic director, but it is also going to take a lot of work. The organization needs to raise $60,000 to cover travel costs, accommodations, entry fees and other costs for the 15 choristers and two conductors to participate in the event.

“This is one of the biggest things we have tried to bite off,” said Smith.

So far the organization has raised $30,000 with families of the choristers contributing more than $10,000 with the conservatory matching that amount. The Choristers themselves have also pledged $10,000 through various fundraising events. Yet, the group still has a long way to go to meet its goal.

People can donate by going to or contacting the conservatory at 250-754-4611.

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