In May 2022 the Cathedral’s Director of Music, Rupert Lang, submitted notice that he would retire at the beginning of August 2024. After over 35 years in the role, Rupert wanted some time to prepare for the next chapter in his own life. Also, after two years of Covid restrictions, he wanted to enjoy some time back with the full choir. It would also give the parish time to enjoy familiarity with musical leadership returning from the pandemic.
We are now about a year away from Rupert’s initial intended retirement date and I have a few updates for you.
First, by mutual agreement between Rupert, myself and the lay Trustees, we are extending his retirement date to December 31, 2024. This is to end his tenure with a crescendo at Christmas.
Second, we are moving forward with the search for the next Cathedral Director of Music. This is not quite as simple as posting a job on the website and waiting for applications to roll in. The Director of Music has a significant impact on helping shape the style and flavour of worship at the Cathedral. So this is a moment to pause and reflect on the musical legacy of the Cathedral that Rupert has been a part of building. It is also a time to dream about how we wish to see that continue to develop in the future. It is by no means a quick process. It will give us ample opportunity to pay tribute to Rupert and celebrate his contributions to the life of this community.
To that end, a day-long workshop was held in early August. During this workshop which was facilitated by Ian Alexander (the Prolocutor of the Anglican Church of Canada and past chair of the Music Director search committee for Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria ), we engaged in strategic thinking and visioning around the music ministry at the Cathedral. The meeting produced many interesting ideas and was very energetic.
Building on the work of the first group, at the end of August I appointed a second group to serve as a search committee. They will lead and advise me and the other Trustees in the search process. These highly qualified and respected members of the Cathedral and the broader music community are advised by our consultant, the Canon (Lay) Ian Alexander. I have retained him for the duration of the search process. The members of the search committee are Michael Law, Jane Osler, Byron Hansen, Ben Dobyns, Mark Halyk, Ted Chiasson, Brigid Coult & Morna Edmundson. I have appointed Jane Osler and Mark Halyk to co-chair the search committee. I am extremely grateful for the willingness of all the members to serve in this process. The Search Committee is now engaged in the process at hand and will continue to provide updates to the community each step of the way. We anticipate the search process will take approximately 9 months to complete.
Biographies of the non-trustee Search Committee members:
Morna Edmundson is one of Canada’s best-known choral conductors, with a strong reputation for excellence. Based in Vancouver, she is Artistic Director of Elektra Women’s Choir and EnChor Choir, an auditioned SATB ensemble for mature voices. Since childhood, she has been passionate about choral singing. Morna obtained degrees and diplomas in vocal music in Vancouver, Bellingham, and Stockholm, Sweden. Morna has adjudicated in North America and Asia, and conducted state and provincial honour choirs and community choir festivals. She gives frequent workshops with youth and adult choirs and advocates for and encourages the next generation of choral professionals. Her accomplishments have been recognized with many awards including a Vancouver YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and a Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of British Columbia.
Brigid Coult arrived in Canada in the fall of 1982. Christ Church Cathedral was a significant part of making Vancouver her home. She sang with the Cathedral Choir until 1988 (the last year she was Organ Scholar under Rupert's direction) and then served at St Alban's Richmond, and St Mark's Kitsilano. She has just retired, after 21 years as Director of Music at St Mary's Kerrisdale. She served on the Anglican Church’s Hymn Book Task Force. She chaired the Service Music Working Group here in Vancouver. This resulted in the publication of Common Praise hymnal. From 1996 to 2001 she served on the Bishop’s Liturgy Commission, taking a leadership role in the music of services for Synod, confirmations and ordinations. She also served on the Renewing Anglican Worship Working Group. Brigid is in her 30th season as conductor of Richmond Chorus, and in her 40th year with the BC Choral Federation, having served on both Board and Executive and as Project Manager since 2005.
Ben Dobyns is an organist and jazz pianist with over twenty years of experience, now serving as the Minister of Instrumental Music at Shaughnessy Heights United Church and as the St Brigid’s musician at Christ Church Cathedral. Ben is also producing the Organist Launchpad educational video series for the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Byron Hanson is a soloist and section lead with the Christ Church Cathedral Choir and the second tenor section lead with Chor Leoni Men's Choir. He also works as a session singer both in performance and in the studio. Byron plays the cello as well and has performed with the A Company of Instruments Baroque Orchestra and the rock band Ten Suns. Byron programmed the Cathedral Festival of Sacred Music this summer and has worked alongside Rupert to help program the festival in the past. Byron has recently completed the Electronic Music Production course at Langara College (2010) and has begun producing his own compositions, mixing and editing, film scoring, and recording other artists.
Ian Alexander has been a freelance consultant since 2007. Before that, he spent 25 years at the CBC. During that time he was on-air host of a nightly concert music program, Deputy Head of the Radio Music Department, and Chief of Staff for English Services. These days, most of his work involves strategic planning, organizational development and communications counsel in the arts, media, and not-for-profit sectors.
Ian currently worships at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria. He attended the Vancouver Cathedral in the 1970s and early 80s. At that time, he worked with Herbert O’Driscoll on the creation of the popular daily radio feature, One Man’s Journal. He also did broadcasting projects with Patrick Wedd.
Ian is quite involved with the Anglican Church at the parish, diocesan and national levels. He is a Lay Canon of the Diocese of Islands and Inlets (British Columbia) and serves as a member of the Cathedral Management Team and Diocesan Council, among other roles. Over the past four years, he co-led the national church’s Strategic Planning Working Group. Ian was recently elected Prolocutor of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada for a two-year term.
Ian is also currently consulting with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto (working alongside Peter Elliott) and Anglican Deacons Canada. He has been engaged to assist the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto with their search for the next Executive Director of St. Michael’s Choir School. He has considerable experience at helping rethink and rejuvenate church music programs, and recruit new leaders. He looks forward to applying some of those learnings for the benefit of our Cathedral – a community that remains close to his heart.