About the Choir

Our History 

We’re 50 this year! And Malaspina Choir is still performing challenging, diverse repertoire from classical to contemporary. Today, as before, our 60-member mixed-voice community choir presents choral masterpieces from Bach to Verdi 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 last year and were awarded a Canada Heritage grant for this initiative.

 Our 2018-19 concerts reflect our rich programming. Of Saints and Soldiers (November, 2018) featured the choir, tenor Benjamin Butterfield, accompanist Sharon Wishart, the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra, and the Nanaimo Youth Choir in a performance of Britten’s St. Nicholas and Daley’s Requiem. In December, our 9th annual Sing-along Messiah included our choristers, more than 250 audience members and professional soloists, all accompanied by the Cowichan Consort. For today’s Brahms Requiem, we welcome back the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra as well as soloists Betty Allison (who performed the Verdi Requiem with us last season) and Michael MacKinnon (who soloed in our Sing-along Messiah this past fall).

 Our choir thrives on presenting beautiful music that is exciting and entertaining. Next year, our 50th anniversary, will continue this tradition.

Our Team 

Lionel Tanod, Artistic Director

Lionel Tanod

Lionel Tanod comes to Malaspina Choir having directed the Island Bel Canto Singers since 2005.  He is also the founder-director of the Harbour City Singers and a founding member of the Island Consort.  He co-founded the Nanaimo Sings society and chaired its music committee, helping organize the 2008 and 2011 Nanaimo Sings! choral festivals. He also served as one of the rehearsal directors for the 2013 BC Chorfest held in Nanaimo.

Prior to moving to Nanaimo, Lionel was music director at Ashbury College in Ottawa for 20 years and directed the college's extensive choral and instrumental programs. His choirs and bands regularly toured and performed in Canada, USA and Europe. He also directed the Christ Church Cathedral choir in Hamilton, the Bytown Voices in Ottawa and guest-conducted the Saltspring Singers on Saltspring Island, BC.

He has sung in various choirs in England and Canada and was a member of the semi-professional Cantata Singers of Ottawa for 18 years. Lionel has taken choral conducting workshops and courses with Iwan Edwards, Jean Ashworth Bartle and Jon Washburn among others. He holds a B.Mus. (Hons.) London University , UK and an M.A. from McMaster University and is an accredited IB (International Baccalaureate) music examiner.


Sharon Wishart, Accompanist

Sharon Wishart

Sharon Wishart3Sharon Wishart is a well-known member of British Columbia's musical community as an educator and as a performer. She was the official accompanist for the B.C. Festival of the Arts for 10 years, regularly accompanies singers and instrumentalists and was the Musical Director at St. Paul's Anglican and Gabriola United Churchs. She has also sung with various small orchestras and choral societies in B.C., including the Nanaimo Symphony, Mount Benson Symphony, and Parksville Musical Association and performed as accompanist or singer in such concert series as Morning Musicale, Vancouver Mozart Society and the Victoria Art Gallery. Sharon also appeared as both accompanist and vocalist with Vancouver Opera Association, in the chorus, and on tour. She accompanied Academy West, one of our finest BC Youth Choirs, including a performance at the Sydney Opera House while on tour in Australia. In May 2013, Sharon was honored to receive the BC Choral Federation's Joyce O. Maguire Award for long-term excellence in choral accompanying.

Sharon presently teaches voice and piano in Nanaimo and accompanies Opera Nanaimo's concert series, 'Opera Gems.' She is delighted to once again be the accompanist for 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 #119029577RT0001.

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.