The Canterbury Choral Society's mission to present sacred choral masterpieces in sacred spaces with their full original orchestrations was entirely innovative and untried when the group began; its half-century-long success without any deviation from its original mission is unparalleled in New York City. Founded in 1952 by Charles Dodsley Walker, a musician, organist, and conductor, Canterbury's concerts bring together a unique combination of volunteer, semi-professional and professional musicians. In 2014, Maestro Walker selected Jonathan De Vries, a long-time collaborator with Canterbury Choral Society and well-respected conductor and music educator in New York City, as his successor. After Maestro Walker’s death in 2015, the Board of Directors named Mr. De Vries as the new Artistic Director and Conductor.
The Canterbury Choral Society (CCS), initially a musical outreach project of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City, was created "for the purpose of presenting programs of the finest sacred choral music, to be given in church and with the required instrumental accompaniment.” With three major concerts per season, the Canterbury Chorus is accompanied by professional instrumentalists, organists and soloists. Regular benefit performances at Carnegie Hall or Avery Fisher Hall have featured an expanded adult ensemble of 300, and local children’s choirs. Since its founding, more than 3,000 children have sung with the chorus during benefit concerts, many of them participating during the productions of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, the monumental “Symphony of a Thousand”. Canterbury has performed over two hundred formal concerts and Canterbury singers have participated in scores of theatre productions, ceremonies and services throughout the metropolitan region.
The Church of the Heavenly Rest is a wonderful, sacred space located on Fifth Avenue at 90th Street in Manhattan's Carnegie Hill neighborhood. Canterbury’s regular rehearsals and performances are held here and help to amplify the outreach of this upper east side church, with whom the Choral Society maintains a special and treasured relationship.
Canterbury reached administrative independence from the Church of the Heavenly Rest, its original sponsor, in 1988, when CCS achieved 501(c)(3) status. Today, Canterbury Choral Society is a not-for-profit arts association with an independent Board of Directors and Officers, which hold regular meetings to oversee the short-range and long-range stability of Canterbury.
Its by-laws have been drafted in accordance with New York State requirements, and end-of-year meetings include standard reports but also a Conductor’s Report, which features a survey of the past season's concerts and an overview of the next season's planned performances. An additional objective remains: encourage the camaraderie which is a hallmark of Canterbury Choral Society. Though friendships, socializing, and laughter remain a key component of the late May annual meetings, they are not legally concluded without the official presentation of the business component of the agenda.
Board of Directors and Officers
Officers are elected for one-year terms during the annual meeting, and board members serve for a three-year term.
Class of 2017:
Mary Ellen Bianco (3rd year of 1st term)
Rosemarie Lamb Deane (3rd year of 2nd term)
Anne Carter Seeler (3rd year of 1st term)
Frederick L. Jacobson (2nd year of 1st term)
Class of 2018:
Alicia Benoist (2nd year of 2nd term)
Coco Hoguet Neel (2nd year of 2nd term)
Elizabeth (Lise) P. Walker (2nd year of 1st term)
Mary T. Wheeler (2nd year of 2nd term)
Class of 2019:
Jeanne R. Dickinson (1st year of 2nd term)
John Townsend (2nd year of 1st term)
Margie Mckittrick (1st year of 1st term)