St. Barnabas on the Danforth has a long tradition of good choral music. The choir consists of volunteers and four professional soloists/section leads. Our repertoire includes anthems and motets from every period of the church's song, oratorio choruses, plainsong, etc. In addition to providing music for regular Sunday worship and special services, the choir presents an annual festival of lessons and carols during Advent and another during Epiphany. Rehearsals are held from September to early June in the choir room or church on Thursday nights from 7:45 to 9:15 pm.
Konrad Harley is Choir Director and Organist at St. Barnabas. From a field of seventeen applicants Konrad was chosen for his deep musicianship, both as an organist and as composer. Konrad’s home church is Holy Trinity Anglican in Thornhill where he began his organ studies. He now has degrees in Organ Performance and Musicology, and is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. In addition to teaching and conducting duties at University, Konrad has served for seven years at Christ Church, Woodbridge. Konrad completed his Doctoral thesis on the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in 2014 at the University of Toronto: "Harmonic Function in the Music of Sergei Prokofiev." Click the button below to listen email Konrad and to listen to Konrad's compositions.
The choir welcomes new, enthusiastic singers to join. Some music-reading ability is a definite advantage but is not essential. A love of singing and a strong commitment to the group are essential. A commitment to Thursday practices and Sunday morning services is expected. Click the button below to join the choir or speak to our Music Director, Konrad Harley.
During the summer of 2013 work was undertaken to complete Phase Two of our organ restoration project. The Swell is one of four “divisions” of our organ, the others being the Great (on which phase one of the restoration project was completed during the summer of 2012), the Choir and the Pedal. This part of the instrument is located high up on the right side of the chancel, and is contained in a large wooden box with an opening on one side that is covered by shutters which bear some resemblance to Venetian blinds. The organist can open and close these shutters using a pedal at the console, enabling expression from soft (when closed) to loud (when open, allowing the sounds to escape). The Swell division, which is the largest on our instrument, also has the most variety of sounds, from silky soft flutes and string sounds to the clarion ring of the cornopean stop, which is like a miniature trumpet. The shutters mentioned above are controlled by a separate motor which we believe is the original piece of equipment. As airflow is created by the blower motor located in the church’s basement, it is then ducted to a series of reservoirs, which are commonly known as wind chests. Wind chests store air which provide for pressure demands (i.e. the louder the sound, the more air is required). A wind chest is basically a wooden box. Picture a box that has a cover attached that moves up and down on a wooden hinge. This hinge is attached to the box and cover with leather. Leather, as we know, is flexible which allows the hinge and cover to move up and down based on pressure demands. Leather, over time, dries out and as the cover moves up and down, cracks begin to form, which explains why we sometimes hear air noise coming from the organ chambers. Much of the leather in our instrument is dried and cracked, and leaking .… just about ready to blow out. As the hinges blow, the reservoir will leak so much air that the organ will be rendered unusable. This is a very concise, and as non-technical as possible explanation of the work to be done over a period of six or so weeks this summer. Our organ is the most valuable asset of our church, apart from the property and building, and is well worth restoring and preserving for future generations to enjoy.
Dr. Eugene Gate, Organ & Choir Emeritus
Dr. Eugene Gates was organist and choirmaster of St. Barnabas Anglican Church for over 38 years. He received his musical education at Acadia University, McMaster University, University of Toronto and through additional study at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, and in England. His principal organ teachers were E. F. Gmeiner, Edwin A. Collins and Douglas Bodle. Eugene Gates is also on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, where he teaches organ, piano and history of music. He is also an examiner emeritus of that institution. After 38 years of faithful service at St. Barnabas, Dr. Eugene Gates decided to retire. The parish celebrated Eugene’s ministry on Sunday, October 31, 2010, and he subsequently accepted the title of Organist and Choirmaster Emeritus.