Big year ahead for Arion Male Voice Choir

Historic vocal group seeking new members — no experience required

The Arion Male Voice Choir will take you from coast to coast in their upcoming concert This Land of Ours, Friday, May 11 at Centennial United Church.

By Mary Ellen Green


Canada’s longest established male choir has been raising the rafters in Victoria since 1892.

The Arion (pronounced a-RYE-on) Male Voice Choir predates the British Columbia legislature (1897) and the Empress Hotel (1908), and has included such prominent members as justice Matthew Begbie, Ira Dilworth and Beverly Fyfe.

The 35-member, four-part (tenor 1 and 2, baritone and bass) choir is also known as the “Lieutenant Governor’s Choir” after being adopted by Iona Campagnolo, the 27th lieutenant governor of B.C.

Led by music director, jazz pianist and choral arranger Peter Dent since August 2011, the Arion Male Voice Choir is getting ready for its spring concert, This Land of Ours, Friday May 11 at Centennial United Church (David at Gorge) at 7:30 p.m. Repertoire for the concert includes Canadian classics from crooners Ian Tyson, Stan Rogers and Rita McNeil, plus other traditional tunes. The concert is a fundraiser for awards the choir hands out annually to two promising male vocalists.

The Ursual Thomas bursary goes to a student at the post-secondary level (2011 winner Paul Luongo).

The bursary was named after Arion’s long-time accompanist Ursula Thomas, who retired last year.

The Arion Choir Harold Treloar Memorial Prize (2011 winner Paul Winkelmans) goes to the most promising senior male vocalist at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival (Ken Lavigne is a former winner). Treloar was the music director from 1980 to 2000.

“One of the unique things about the Arion choir is the multifaceted membership,” says current choir president John MacDonald. “We come from all walks of life. There are teachers, scientists and funeral directors in the group. We rehearse every Monday, but we’re not so rigid that you can’t miss a practice.”

The membership of the choir has fluctuated from more than 70 members down to its current 35, and although the membership is on the low side right now, board member and tenor Kevin Ramsay says the group is excited at the chance to rebuild the membership. And they’ve got a few things up their sleeves to entice new members to join.

The choir is gearing up for a big year in 2013, with a trip planned to New York City to perform at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Centre. The three other choral ensembles that Dent directs, Newcombe Singers, Ekoos and Choro Galiano are also heading to New York for the invitation only performance next May.

Just before they leave, they have a concert planned featuring some famous Canadian folk musicians.

“This is unofficially the first of two concerts where we’ll be focusing on Canadian folk music,” says Dent. “We’ve got Shari Ulrich, Barney Bentall and Allison Crowe on board in our tribute to Canadian folk.”

The choir will also be recording a CD.

“We’re not an auditioned choir,” says MacDonald. “We always have room for anyone who can carry a tune in the shower.”

“And you don’t need to know how to read music,” adds Ramsay.

The choir has a new members’ night Sept. 3 after they return from summer break. The choir rehearses every Monday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Centennial United Church (David at Gorge).

Tickets for the concert are available for $15 in advance by contacting the choir at or by phone at 250-472-8914.

Donations to the bursary fund will be given tax receipts. For more information visit M


Arion Male Voice Choir

This Land of Ours

Spring Concert

Friday, May 11, 7:30 pm

Centennial United Church (612 David)

$20 door/$15 advance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jen Hodge conducts an online concert during the pandemic after returning to B.C. from New York City. Photo courtesy Claudia Nobauer
Canada Recovery Benefit won’t replace the magic of live performance, musicians say

Cash will help, but its the audience connection that most performers miss — and crave

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancouver Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann will play the same piano at the Port Theatre on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy Best Days Ever Photography)
Piano duo perform on one piano in Nanaimo return to live performance

Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann present first live, in-person concert since March

Leaking Time by Oak Bay resident Ilka Bauer is the winning entry of the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Ilka Bauer Image)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

Can you spot all 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens? Jen Blyth photo.
The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens

Some events cancelled due to COVID-10 but 12 Days of Christmas will brighten the season

Gatineau artist Michèle Provost visits the Malaspina Galleries during her artist residency on Gabriola Island. (Photo supplied)
Gatineau artist the first to take part in new Gabriola Island artist residency

Michèle Provost to create art book reflecting on the positives of aging

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, video)
Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, video)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Most Read