Amy Ferguson directing the boys choir from the organ at St. Paul's United Church in Nelson

The Amy Ferguson Institute is a nonprofit organization that supports, produces and markets vocal arts in the West Kootenays.

The Amy  Ferguson Institute (AFI) was founded in 2000 to celebrate the musical legacy of Dr. Amy Ferguson, a much loved music teacher and mentor best remembered for the Nelson Boys Choir which she founded in 1930 and directed until her death in 1972.

Nelson Boys Choir, 1963

Amy Ferguson trained over 800 boys as well as many girls to sing and to love fine music during her 42 years in Nelson, British Columbia.  Several of Amy Ferguson’s former music students went on to become highly regarded professional singers and musicians in Canada and abroad.

 Since 2000, AFI has sought to celebrate her legacy by organizing festivals, workshops and master classes in Nelson focusing primarily on the vocal arts. AFI frequently facilitates collaborative vocal productions and events bringing together the musical resources of several organizations. From 2001 to 2004 the newly formed Amy Ferguson Institute mounted Nelson Summer Songfest, a festival which attracted renouned singers and clinicians to Nelson for two weeks of masterclasses, choral workshops and performances.

AFI also sponsored annual Advanced Voice Masterclasses from 2004 to 2007 under the world-class tutelage of Nancy Argenta and Ingrid Attrot.



In 2008, AFI took on the operations of the Nelson Community Opera (NCO). Since its inception in 1996, NCO has mounted annual productions of opera and musical theatre including:

  • Operas: La Boheme, the Merry Widow, Cavalaria Rusticana, the Magic Flute, the Marriage of Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Orfeo and Euridice, and KHAOS,
  • Musicals: Sweeney Todd, You Never Know, Three Penny Opera and Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods and Jesus Christ Superstar.

In the Fall of 2009, AFI embarked on its most ambitious project to date, commissioning Nelson composer Don Macdonald and local playwright Nicola Harwood to collaborate in creating a new, full-length opera, KHAOS, which the NCO premiered in March 2012. A very successful tour of KHAOS to Cranbrook, Grand Forks, Trail and Creston followed in May 2012.

In November 2015 NCO mounted its second operatic world premiere, Jorinda, composition and libretto by Nelson resident Doug Jamieson.



AFI has also endowed a musical scholarship fund with the Osprey Community Foundation. Entitled , the Amy Ferguson Institute, June Lythgoe Music Scholarship Fund,  it provides a semi-annual $1000 scholarship to a deserving West Kootenay area student of music.  For the application process please visit our Awards page.



A Production Skills Mentorship Award was created in 2012 to assist in developing the production skills of aspiring local technicians and directors. AFI created the fund to enable local organizations mounting a production to engage a student technician to be mentored by the production’s senior technician. For the application process please visit our Awards page.



AFI Board

AFI Board 2015
Bottom left, clockwise: Allison Girvan, Dianna Ducs, Doug Jamieson, Karen Livingston, Lorna Inkster, Eric Galbraith, Marty Horswill, Pat Henman, Sydney Black

  • Dianna Ducs, Chair
  • Eric Galbraith, Financials
  • Sydney Black, VP
  • Lorna Inkster, Secretary
  • Allison Girvan
  • Marty Horswill
  • Patricia Henman
  • Karen Livingston
  • Doug Jamieson


  • Len Lythgoe
  • Nancy Argenta


Amy Ferguson 2012 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2013 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2014 Financial Report – pdf



Constitution – amended 2013

Bylaws – amended 2011