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.

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, choralNelson Boys Choir, 1963 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 EuridiceKHAOS, and Jorinda
  • Musicals & Choral Works: Sweeney Todd, You Never Know, Three Penny Opera and Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods and Jesus Christ Superstar, Carmina Burana, The Armed Man

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. In 2016 Carmina Burana was lead by Allison Girvan, with two pianists and a full community choir of over 50 vocalists.



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.



  • Dianna Ducs, President
  • Laura Landsberg, Vice President
  • Eric Galbraith, Financials
  • Sydney Black
  • Allison Girvan
  • Sylvia Reimer
  • Peggy LePage
  • Eva Blum
  • Shannon Lythgoe
  • Rachel DeShon *exofficio


  • Len and June Lythgoe
  • Nancy Argenta
  • Heather Strutynski
  • Lois Bradshaw


Amy Ferguson 2012 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2013 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2014 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2015 Financial Report – pdf

Amy Ferguson 2016 Financial Report – pdf

AFI Financials 2017 – pdf




AFI Constitution 2017 – amended 2017

AFI Bylaws 2017 – amended 2017