St. Lawrence University has received a $1 million gift from Barbara Christie ’76 to create an endowment to permanently fund the position of the director of the Laurentian Singers and enhance the tradition of choral excellence at St. Lawrence University. In recognition of this gift, the University will name the Director of Laurentian Singers, the Barbara S. Christie ’76 Director of Laurentian Singers.
“We are grateful that Barbara’s experiences at St. Lawrence and as a Laurentian Singer inspired her to support the director’s position in an ongoing way,” says St. Lawrence University President Kathryn A. Morris. “Her gift will positively impact the students who are themselves Laurentian Singers, and also the many other members of our community who benefit from enjoying their beautiful performances for years to come.”
The Laurentian Singers is a select coeducational choir of St. Lawrence University students who represent a wide variety of academic majors and interests. The group recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and has won wide acclaim since its founding in 1946. In addition to their many performances on campus and in the North Country, the ensemble has toured extensively. In recent years, they have performed in San Francisco, New Orleans, Trinidad and Tobago, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, singing for enthusiastic audiences and meeting with other choirs. Their wide-ranging repertoire, drawn from the music of many styles and countries, reflects the spirit of the liberal arts experience at St. Lawrence.
“There are so many reasons to make this gift now,” Christie says. “It’s a celebration of the Laurentian Singers’ 75thAnniversary and I also wanted to honor the impact that Dr. Robert 'Bunny' Jones (former director of the choral group) had on my life. And I hope this helps to elevate the music at St. Lawrence.”
After auditioning for Jones and joining the Laurentian Singers, Christie went on tour with the group in 1974 to South America, in 1975 to Boston, and in 1976 to Canada. While at St. Lawrence, she was president of the Panhellenic Council, a sister of Alpha Delta Pi, a member of Thelmo, a resident assistant, and an orientation leader.
Since graduating, Christie worked in the pharmaceutical industry before transitioning to surgical devices. Despite her busy schedule, she has nurtured both music and her alma mater. She has volunteered to assist St. Lawrence reunion planning and fundraising. Her 40th reunion in 2016 was also a celebration for the 70th Anniversary of the Laurentian Singers.
“As part of the St. Lawrence community, each of us can help support the University’s traditions and its future. I’ve seen the spirit of the Laurentian Singers and what this group can do for learning, for diversity and inclusivity, for the community, and future generations. And I have high hopes for the next 75 years of music making on our campus.”
— Barbara Christie ’76
Barry Torres P’09, ’11, the choral group’s current leader and Director of Music Ensembles since 1998, will retire at the end of this academic year. He will lead his last Laurentian Singers tour March 17 - 26 to New York City and Boston with stops in Rochester, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut. The tour ends where his first tour in March 1999 began: in Burlington, Vermont. Repertoire will include music from the Italian Renaissance, a West Side Story set that will include “Somewhere,” “Tonight” and “A Boy Like That—I Have a Love,” Gershwin songs “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “I Got Rhythm,” and the Beach Boys classic “Good Vibrations.”