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.” From the beginning of Canterbury Choral Society, Heavenly Rest parishioners, and other volunteer vocalists from the Metropolitan area gathered to sing and rehearse under Charlie Walker’s leadership. Though most Canterbury concerts retain some characteristics of a church service — performances are often preceded and concluded with a hymn, for instance — critics come to Canterbury concerts as they never would to other church recitals: they reviewed Canterbury performances as they would regular concerts in major concert halls.