Charles McCluskey

Charles McCluskey

Senior Songster leads last chorus in Nanaimo

NANAIMO - Charles McCluskey directed Nanaimo's Bowen Park Senior Songsters for almost 25 years.

Charles McCluskey joined the Bowen Park Senior Songsters because of his love of music.

For almost 25 years he manned the helm of the senior choral group, taking that position just four months after joining in 1991.

“I reckon I must have conducted 300 rehearsals and 600 concerts, mostly at seniors’ residences,” said McCluskey.

To the choir members, he is a man who brought fun and kindness to the rehearsals and performances.

“He is a very, very nice, kind man,” said Catherine Griffin, an 88-year-old member. “I’ll always think of him as bringing that great big bag of music.”

McCluskey turned 90 in February and retired as director of the Bowen Senior Songsters in May, although he is still a member of the Songsters.

The music he added to the Songsters’ repertoire was from the 1920s to ’70s music.

He loved performing solos. He did about two to three a year.

Griffin said performing at seniors’ residences is a wonderful thing to do. Sometimes they would go to a performance and everyone was quiet in the beginning, but near the end of the show the audience was clapping and singing along and you could see the joy on people’s faces, she said.

“I think Charles should be knighted, honestly,” said Griffin about the importance of performing for seniors.

McCluskey said when he joined there were fewer than a dozen members and since then it has built up to about 40 members.

He said he loved to get up-tempo numbers for the members to perform.

Judy Simpson has taken over as director of the Songsters.

The Bowen Senior Songsters take a break in the summer. Board meetings, followed by a practice, start again on Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. at Bowen Park activity centre.

For more information, please contact Simpson at 250-758-3989 or e-mail