Acceptance of choirs important step for choral festival in Powell River

Preparations accelerate for biennial International Choral Kathaumixw

Every two years, the patchwork quilt that is International Choral Kathaumixw begins to come together in January with formation of a list of adult, youth and children’s choirs.

While the quilt always has the same outline, the details, linking threads, colours and content, change from festival to festival.

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“Nearly 50 applications were sent in,” said artistic director Walter Martella, “one of the longest lists I’ve seen.”

Next on Martella’s to-do list is putting together a series of concerts featuring all the choirs that take place in Evergreen Theatre, Max Cameron Theatre and James Hall.

An emerging theme for 2020 is peace with Philippine Madrigal Singers attending as Guest Choir. They will be coming to Kathaumixw at the end of a North American tour. The choir was designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Artist For Peace in recognition for their efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among people in South East Asia.

Continuing with the peace theme, the Gala Opening Concert opening will feature a large choral work, The Peacemakers, by Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins.

Returning this year are Fred and Gunnel Sjoberg from Sweden, who will be accompanied by their Orebro Chamber Choir, which is designated Artists in Residence.

A well-known conductor for international choirs, Fred will conduct Kathaumixw’s Common Song. Gunnel will lead the children and youth combined choir, preparing for the Gala Grand Concert with group practices. In addition to their conducting, Fred and Gunnel are vocal soloists and will be members of the Kathaumixw jury.

Accepted choirs hail from BC, Quebec, Ontario, several parts of the United States, Uganda, Philippines, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland.

Billeting is a major component of Kathaumixw as local residents open their homes to choir members from overseas. North American choirs stay in commercial establishments.

“People like to help by billeting,” said Martella, “and showing off their community. Newcomers to Powell River since 2018 are invited to participate in this integral part of the festival that is so beneficial to both parties. Host families learn about another country and culture, and visiting choir members learn about our life here.”

More information about billeting and the festival in general can be found at

Kathaumixw takes place June 30 to July 4 and tickets go on sale in April.

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