Youth Singers of Calgary (YSC)

With Youth Singers, young people experience success through the performing arts: singing, dancing and acting. Our program builds confidence, leadership and teamwork skills to last a life-time.

Members of YSC SENIOR HI division perform at Jubilee Auditorium Our Story Why We Exist

Thirty years ago at Mount Royal Conservatory, Shirley Penner was asked to design a junior high choir for 26 students. Penner merged classically-based singing with dancing and acting, and the class soon took on a life of its own.

Within a few years, this class grew to 80 students; however,  the Conservatory was only able to accommodate one class. “I had to make a decision. I stayed, working on fund development at the college, but I took the Youth Singers out into the community,” says Shirley Penner, CEO of Youth Singers of Calgary.

After relocating a few times, the fledgling company found a home in Victoria Park Community Centre where it remained for 12 years, growing into one of the largest not-for-profit choral organizations in the country. Having outgrown the community centre, and after countless volunteer hours as well as donations from their supporters, in 2009 Youth Singers renovated a warehouse and relocated to its new Performing Arts Youth Centre in the southeast.

The 18,000-square-foot space houses four studios, a sound room, set and costume storage, and a priceless library of music titles. The space is simple, functional and solid, much like the organization itself. 

  • The important thing is what happens inside the building,” says Penner.
  • It’s the young people! Building self-esteem and confidence and giving them all the opportunities to lead and grow.”

Performers have fun while earning high school credits and learning important life skills: time management, organization and teamwork. They learn to win with grace, work hard and make lifelong friends who share a love of music. And they’ve learned from the best.

Shirley Penner was recently inducted into The Alberta Order of Excellence for her contribution and impact on the arts and the community. She has had an impact on more than 3000 performers in the three decades Youth Singers has operated.

Pretty in blue Youth Singers KIDZXPRESS Division perform Our Impact What We Do

Youth Singers of Calgary creates great performers on stage and in life.

When a Youth Singer steps on stage, they give it everything they've got - their personalities, their dreams, their fears and their excitement. Their true voices come tumbling out and their love of performing, of growing and succeeding shines through. Their passion and enthusiasm captivate and elevate their audiences as well as each other.

For some Youth Singers, rehearsals and shows are an extension of an already healthy, balanced life. For others, they find an escape from the increasing stresses of being a kid, and discover opportunities to spark motivation otherwise lost behind the glow of their tablet or phone.

The tools we use to produce better performers allow us to develop people who feel better about themselves and who see that the sky really is the limit on their dreams. Every day, we create community leaders empowered by the experiences and personal growth they achieve through singing, dancing and acting. 

We are one of Calgary's largest performing arts organizations. For more than 30 years, guided by the vision and leadership of founder Shirley Penner, we have provided generations of young people with a chance to succeed through the performing arts. We nurture, mentor, guide and celebrate every child who comes through our doors. 

Annual Results:

  • We give 500 performers in 15 divisions ranging from three years old to adult an inclusive place to perform; 
  • For 10 months per year, our performers work to perfect the group’s two main-stage productions at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium; 
  • Our 18,000-square-foot space houses four studios, a sound room, set and costume storage, and a priceless library of music titles.

Christmas performance at South Centre MallOur Programs How We Do It

We provide a comprehensive performance training and music education program focused on singing, dancing and acting for ages 3 to adult, guided by 50+ artistic staff members. Our program is divided into 15 divisions including: early childhood and special needs classes, summer camps, and recreational and auditioned choral groups. Our bursary program removes barriers to participation by assisting those with financial need.

It's a full program - classes begin in September and end in June, with many opportunities for extra rehearsals. A typical year for us will see several divisions participate in two main stage shows at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, as well as up to 100 community performances throughout the city. As an exciting bonus our program also gives young people once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to showcase their talents across Canada, and around the world.  Next year our SENIOR HI and older divisions will be going to South Africa!

Our performers are mentored and continuously challenged to learn and grow artistically. The mentorship component of our program has resulted in a number of working choreographers, musical directors and arts administrators, many of whom continue to benefit our organziation as artistic staff - arranging the music, creating the choreography and writing the scripts which form the basis of Youth Singer's yearly main stage shows.

KIDZXPRESS perform at the Youth Singers of Calgary Christmas showOur Requests What You Can Do

Making our program happen takes all of us working together. We are the performers, the teachers, the administrators, the families, the supporters - together we are creating a better community by giving young people the skills and opportunities to achieve their potential. 

As a financial supporter, you are a critical part of our family. You enable us to do what we do by contributing much needed funds to run our program. Our costs are substantial.

Total annual program costs = $1.2 million 

  • 65% programming
  • 15% Facility expenses
  • 20% Administration

Revenue earned:

  • 47% through tuition, performances and rental of the Performing Arts Youth Centre
  • 53% is raised through gaming, special events, donations, grants, sponsorships and government funding. 

You can help Calgary youth develop their creativity and self-esteem, learn life-long skills and experience the challenges of leadership and teamwork through Youth Singers. Here's how:

Become a Corporate Sponsor:

  • Performances: Spring Show, Summer camps
  • Education: Artistic/Professional development, International Tour - South Africa 2018, STAR program
  • Special Events: Hearts Out fundraising gala, YSC Charity Golf Classic
  • And many more opportunities 


  • One-time cash gift or a multi-year pledge
  • Gift-in-kind