FutureStops is a multi-faceted initiative established by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) to help build a more diverse, rich and relevant future for the pipe organ, in Canada and internationally.
Crowned centuries ago as ‘the king of instruments’ the pipe organ and its music face profound challenges today. The sociomusical importance of the organ has diminished significantly in recent decades, due to both the disruptive rise of digital music and decreasing attendance in religious services, the latter resulting in the closing of many churches and the loss of both working organs and working organists. As a result, many music lovers, especially young people, are unaware of the transformative potential of the organ, an instrument whose remarkable power and range should instead make it a vital focus of contemporary musical appreciation, invention and artistry.
FutureStops aims to reverse this trend by exploring and celebrating a wide range of contemporary approaches to the organ, and by a building a community of contemporary organ enthusiasts who value artistic innovation, cultural diversity and community engagement as keys to the 21st century organ experience.
The FutureStops podcast is just the first of several upcoming FutureStops projects designed to further these aims.
The Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) is the national voice of the organ and its music in Canada. We support, promote and celebrate Canadian organists, composers, organ-builders and others who share our passion by providing resources and opportunities through our programmes and services. We seek to enrich the lives of Canadians by engaging the wider public in Canada’s rich organ heritage and vibrant organ culture.
The RCCO provides a wide variety of programmes including: professional development opportunities, youth training programmes, promotion of emerging artists, examinations leading to certification, publication of Canadian organ and choral music, scholarships and bursaries, and several honorary awards.
The RCCO is a registered charitable organization (# 13696 9730 RR0001).
Elizabeth Shannon is a senior arts manager with over 20 years of experience whose expertise includes strategic planning, development, project management, communications, and advocacy. Elizabeth is the Executive Director of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and is the Project Manager for the FutureStops initiative. She has also served as the Executive Director of Choirs Ontario and was on the Board of Choral Canada, where she helped restructure and rebrand that organization from an association of choral conductors to a thriving nation-wide choral community.
In addition to her work with the RCCO, Elizabeth is also an active musician and is currently the Choir Director of the Massey College Choir at the University of Toronto.
John Sobol is a musician, author and strategic consultant who has worked closely with the RCCO since 2018 to help design, generate funding for, and implement the FutureStops project.
Tenor Thomas Leslie is originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia and sings regularly throughout Eastern Canada and United States. Recent performance highlights include oratorios by Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Mendelssohn, as well as operatic performances of Die Zauberflöte, and music of Nico Muhly at the River-to-River Festival in New York City, and completed a 10-day concert tour of China.
Thomas has been heard as a panellist on CBC Radio’s Opera Quiz and was featured on the Bravo Network documentary series The Classical Now. Thomas is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier and McGill Universities, where he studied both voice and organ, and holds an Executive MBA from Université Paris-Dauphine. He is the Executive Director of the Canadian International Organ Competition and Vice-President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Dr. Peter Nikiforuk is President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. From 1989-2000, he was Executive Director of the College. He has been Director of Music at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Kitchener since 1989 and an instructor at the Beckett School since 2000. Peter won the Leslie Bell Prize in Choral Conducting in 1996 and conducted Menno Singers from 1998-2017.
An active recitalist and clinician, Peter is also co-owner and editor for Kelman Hall Publishing. He holds degrees and diplomas from the University of Toronto, Yale University, The Royal Academy of Music and the American Guild of Organists.