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International Choral Kathaumixw takes the stage

Biennial choral festival underway in multiple venues
FINAL NOTES: Paul Cummings, artistic director of International Choral Kathaumixw, directs a final rehearsal on the day of the festival’s opening. Dave Brindle photo

Nine choirs from the United States, five from Canada, 10 from overseas and seven from Powell River are participating in International Choral Kathaumixw, which began Tuesday, July 5.

According to Paul Cummings, the festival’s artistic director, groups from BC and Powell River sometimes think they are overlooked because of the visiting choirs. However, he said, that should not be the case.

“There are hundreds of singers in Powell River who are involved in the festival,” said Cummings. “Our festival chorus is made up of the academy chamber singers, plus 20 other handpicked singers from around Powell River.”

Cummings said there is another handful of Powell River Academy of Music choirs, “everything from the little, wee kids’ choirs, all the way up to the Academy Chamber Choir.”

Outside of the excitement over grand choral spectacles in the Great Hall, there is a buzz around concert five, Wednesday, July 6, at Evergreen Theatre, when Powell River’s Academy Chamber Choir, under the direction of festival music advisor Walter Martella, performs composer John Rutter’s Gloria.

“It’s from one of his masses and they’re doing a section of it,” said Cummings. “It’s going to be with Ay-Luang Wang on organ, the Arbutus Brass Quintet and I know there’s some xylophone, some glockenspiel, timpani and snare drum as well. I can’t wait to hear it.”

Other festival highlights include Kathaumixw’s 2016 guest choir: New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, which won Kathaumixw’s first people’s choice award in 2010.

For Cummings, he said one of his festival high notes is when the Choir of the World totem pole is presented. The totem pole, carved by Craig Galligos, is awarded to the choir chosen from the performance of first-place winners during choir competitions and is awarded at the Gala Closing Concert.

“I’m so excited to see where the totem pole is going to go,” said Cummings. “Our festival is not about who is the best choir at the festival, but by the same token it is still such a unique prize that it’s always exciting to see who is going to be the recipient.”