Who we are

Growing the Voices: Festival 500 is dedicated to growing singing in every possible direction from right here in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. We believe that communities are stronger, people are healthier and ultimately, the world is a better place when people have the opportunity to sing and to sing together. We are committed to making that happen.

Growing the Voices: Festival 500 will work locally and globally to create singing opportunities for everyone who wants to sing, in any and every way, from recreational and community singing to performance ensembles. Rooted in the evidence-based principles that human are designed to sing, we know that singing is a developmental capacity. We are dedicated to dispelling the myth that people are either born with the ability to sing, or not. Through our programs and events, we intend to offer singing for all ages and at every stage of singing development. Our mission is to be a leading source of information, inspiration, and innovation enabling people everywhere to experience the joy and value of singing.

Our values are to:

explore, celebrate and facilitate singing development and enjoyment (both alone and in the community)

– by promoting wide access and diverse singing opportunities

– in singing settings that are hallmarked by sharing, learning and mutual respect

– with a goal of personal, social, and cultural expression and enrichment

Growing the Voices: Festival 500’s services will be provided directly to citizens interested in singing together and in partnership with community organizations interested in serving the same goals. We’re also committed to supporting the choral community and developing opportunities for music educators and builders.

With a universal mandate to grow singing, GTV: F500 is dedicated to engaging people and places all over the world, so that we can learn, support and inspire each other. Growing the Voices: Festival 500 is committed to growing singing in every possible way. Get in touch with us to chat, tell us what’s happening in your community, or ask questions about anything you see here!

Growing The Voices: Festival 500 was founded by Dr. Susan Knight. Find out more about who she is and why she does this!


Find out what it did for others!

Kim Saunders has been wanting to join a choir for decades. But who has the time? Find out what happened when she signed up for So You Always Wanted To Sing!

Visit our Personal Stories page to hear more about what singing can do for you!

History & Legacy

Built on the storied history of our predecessor, Sharing The Voices: Festival 500 began in 1997 as a biennial choral festival. Until 2013, this festival earned a reputation as a premiere destination, attracting high-caliber choirs, tourists, clinicians, and educators.

Due to a number of factors, it was determined that the Festival could no longer continue in that form and it was re-visioned in early 2014 to become who we are today…Growing The Voices: Festival 500.

Our Founder and Chair is Dr. Susan Knight, who was also the Founder and Artistic Director Emerita of Festival 500: Sharing the Voices and Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Choir. Dr. Knight’s vision for GTV: F500 is rooted in her research and practice. She has identified that there is a need and an appetite for an organization that creates opportunities for people to sing, not just for performance or in an accomplished way, but for the pure joy and community that results from singing.  The global groundswell phenomenon of public engagement, springing from ordinary peoples’ desire to have meaningful societal and cultural involvement in their lives, explains and supports this movement. GTV offers multiple platforms for such engagement, enabling folks the access and opportunity to lead the expressive lives for which they long and to which they are entitled. Dr. Knight has a global network of contacts in the singing world and is involved in ongoing research on singing. Check out Dr. Knight’s bio!

Board of Directors

Dr. Susan Knight, Founder/ Director

Robert Thompson, Chair

Dennis Knight, Secretary

Dave Lough, Treasurer (Interim)

Margaret Winter, Director

Eleanor Dawson, Director

JinJi Dawson, Director

Veronica Medon, Director

Kathryn Atkin, Director


Governance Model

Growing the Voices: Festival 500 is a non-profit corporation and registered charity located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The corporation operates with a lean complement of part-time leaders and staff, along with many committed volunteers.

Susan Dyer Knight,
C.M., O.N.L., Ph.D. LL.D.

As a socio-cultural entrepreneur, Susan Knight is a champion of the human value of people singing together.

A choral conductor and music educator of international repute, her principal current focus is advocating the power of singing as an engine for individual human health/enrichment and collectively for the creation of empathic community. Dr. Knight holds bachelor degrees in music/music education (Memorial University), master of arts, music education (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis) and Ph.D. (University of London). Susan is Chancellor of Memorial University and Visiting Researcher, International Music Education Research Centre, UCL Institute of Education, University of London.

She has presented at national and international conferences, published in professional journals, conference proceedings and musical editions (co-edited with Bob Chilcott, World Carols for Choirs, Vol. I & II, OUP). She is Founder/Chair of Growing the Voices: Festival 500 – a global movement developing access to and diverse opportunities for singing across the lifespan. She also founded Shallaway Youth Choir (1992) and Festival 500 (1997), and has an extensive discography and filmography.

A consultant, author, producer, speaker and arts advocate, she is also active in governance nationally and internationally. Dr. Knight has produced a canon of choral work chiefly exploring place, empathic community, ecology and change, commissioning composers from local through global, which works are published, recorded and/or broadcast. As a researcher, her principal focus is on adult singing recovery/discovery.

Dr. Knight holds an honorary LLD (Memorial University, 2005) and was invested in the Orders of Canada (2004), and of Newfoundland and Labrador (2005).