At the gala closing concert of International Choral Kathaumixw, the choir of the world totem pole was awarded to Wah Yan College Kowloon Boys’ Choir, a 40-member male choir from Hong Kong, China, conducted by Lesley Ka-Hei Chan.
According to Paul Cummings, the festival’s artistic director and head of the jury choosing the winner, judging which group wins is quite simple.
“It’s based on musicality,” said Cummings. “How difficult is their music? How well do they perform it? Tuning, blend and balance and phrasing; whichever group is strongest in that is the group determined to be the Choir of the World.”
The judging was not unanimous, according to Cummings, due to the competitive quality of choirs attending this year’s festival. “It’s safe to say that there was so much depth and so many great groups performed at such a high level,” he said.
By winning the overall competition against 30 choirs, Wah Yan College will receive the Kathaumixw totem pole, carved by Tla’amin Nation carver Craig Galligos, when a delegation from Kathaumixw delivers it to Hong Kong at a future date.
Seven competitions were held throughout the festival; the jury chose five choirs to perform at the awards concert on Friday, July 8. Choir of the World was chosen from that group.
In addition to that honour, Wah Yan College placed first in three other categories: youth choir, chamber choir and contemporary choral music. The choir also got runner-up honours in the children’s choir category.
The other finalists for Choir of the World were Kinder- und Jungendsingakademie Graz and Green Guys Graz, both from Austria, Fullerton College Chamber Singers from USA and Jubilate Vocal Ensemble from Vancouver.
According to Cummings, the overall energy of the festival generated from 600 adult and 350 youth singers, as well as attending spectators, is what he takes away from this year’s Kathaumixw.
“It built and built and built,” he said, “and by the time we got to the end of that closing concert I thought the roof was going to blow off the arena.”