Skip to content

Festival welcomes singers from around the world to qathet region

International Choral Kathaumixw will return after five-year absence
CHORAL SINGERS: International Choral Kathaumixw welcomes singers from BC and around the world again this summer, after a five-year absence.

This summer, the qathet region will once again be filled with songs from around the globe.

After a five-year hiatus, International Choral Kathaumixw is back, July 4 to 8, engaging the community with concerts, song singing, choral and vocal solo competitions.

“Choirs will attend from Quebec and Saskatchewan in Canada, Illinois, California and North Carolina in the United States, Uganda and Venezuela; plus five visiting choirs are from BC,” said Joyce Carlson, marketing committee chair for Kathaumixw. 

In past years, the choral festival has attracted more than 1,200 singers from around the world, and built its world-class reputation around internationally renowned soloists, orchestras and a distinguished international jury, invited to the region each year.

While on a trip to a festival in Wales with the Powell River Boys Choir in the 1980s, Kathaumixw founder and artistic director (now emeritus) for Powell River Academy of Music, Don James, was inspired to start an international festival in Powell River. Intrigued by the international Llangollen’s Eisteddfod in Wales (eisteddfod means “sitting-together” in Welsh), James wanted to come up with a unique name that embodied a sense of place. Kathaumixw, a Coast Salish word, was chosen, which means “a gathering together of different peoples.”

“North American choirs stay in commercial establishments, and international choirs are billeted in homes,” said Carlson. “Songs often spontaneously burst out in restaurants where choirs may sing for their supper.”

Carlson emphasized how choral participants and residents are usually changed for the better after the experience of Kathaumixw; once strangers who have come together end-up as lifelong friends.

“Kathaumixw has been a breeding ground for musical talent and innovation,” said Carlson.

This year the Philippine Madrigal Singers from the Republic of the Philippines will be the featured artist-in-residence. Another spotlight will be on Sweet Scarlet, from North Vancouver, a self-directed all-female a cappella ensemble.

The five-day festival will present 18 concerts in total, with a gala opening concert on Tuesday, July 4, and the gala closing on Saturday, July 8. Tickets go on sale April 4.

“A favourite is the winners concert on Friday, July 7, when top choirs and soloists are chosen by an esteemed jury in various categories,” said Carlson.

The festival not only provides an amazing vocal experience for audience members to hear, it is a learning-ground for music students at Powell River Academy of Music, which is also the host of the event.

International Choral Kathaumixw has a thunderbird logo; this is an original design created for the festival by local artist William D. Finn. To hear how Kathaumixw is pronounced, go to