About the Choir

Our History 

This season is our 50th birthday and we’re celebrating all season long as we continue to perform challenging and diverse works from classical to contemporary. Today, as before, our 50-member mixed-voice community choir presents choral masterpieces from Bernstein to Vivaldi as well as contemporary and lighter repertoire.

Founded in 1970, the choir’s role in Nanaimo’s civic and ceremonial life began with the opening of the Malaspina College (now VIU) in 1969, followed by a performance for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1983. We gave Nanaimo its official song for its 125th birthday (2006) and helped open the 2009 BC Seniors Games. To encourage younger musicians, we invited three local school choirs and band plus two VIU student ensembles to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 and were awarded a Canada Heritage grant for this initiative.

Our 2019-20 concerts include a romp through four centuries of choral music in November, our 10th Annual Sing-Along Messiah – this year at St. Peter’s Catholic Church – and our official gala birthday concert in May. These programs are vintage Malaspina Choir, reflecting the full range of the choral repertoire including works composed in the 18th century up to the present. We will also be welcoming our friends from the Nanaimo music community who join us in these performances.

 Our choir thrives on presenting beautiful music that is exciting and entertaining. Our 50th anniversary year continues this tradition.

Our New Artistic Director

Fiona Blackburn conducting

Fiona Blackburn. Fiona is a music graduate of U.B.C., which includes a Master's degree in choral conducting.  A singer herself, she has sung with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Opera and has performed solos with several Canadian orchestras.  Fiona has recorded two Celtic CDs and has even sung on cruise ships!  Fiona is an experienced music teacher for all ages and has a stellar reputation as a choral director.  She founded the B.C. Girls Choir, which has toured internationally and won the highest honour at an international Eisteddfod in Wales.  Fiona has directed the Zephyra Women's Choir and Pacifica Singers.  In 2016, she was awarded the B.C. Choral Federation's 2016 Healey Willan Award. 




Our Accompanist

Jenny VincentJenny Vincent (Nagtegaal) began her organ studies with Winnipeg organist Henk Schippers.  She went on to study with Lawrence Ritchey (a student of Marcel Dupre) for many years. On completion of her undergraduate degrees, obtained at the University of Manitoba, Jenny continued her organ studies with Arie Keijzer in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

At the age of twelve, Jenny began her career as a church organist and has since held organist positions at United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches across Canada. She is presently music director at Knox United Church in Parksville. Jenny has performed many recitals throughout Canada.

Jenny created the very successful organWORX series featuring creative concerts that explore the organ in new ways but also introduce the audience with organ music by traditional composers. She is also the Co- Artistic Director and founder of the Schooner Cove Singers, a new professional choir on Vancouver Island.

Jenny is also recognized for her accompanying skills. She has accompanied a variety of choirs, including the Nathaniel Dett Chorale while she resided in Toronto. She is very happy to be now accompanying the Malaspina Choir!


Our Organization

The Malaspina Choir is a registered non-profit organization that is governed by an Executive Committee that is elected by the Choir membership. An Annual General Meeting is held each year in the fall. Malaspina choir is a registered charity, Charitable #119029577RR0001.

Annual General Meeting - Usually mid-November, on the Tuesday following the first concert of the season, Vancouver Island University, Building #320, Choral Room 9:00 pm. 


Our Executive Board 

The Executive Board is elected from the Choir's membership. The Board makes decisions on policies of the organization and ensures the artistic and financial well being of the organization. The Board meets once a month. Board positions include President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Sectional Representatives (4), Production Committee Representative and Librarian. The Artistic Director sits as an Ex-Officio member of the Board. Job descriptions are available for all elected positions.



updated April 19, 2020