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Delegation prepares to deliver totem pole

Choir of the World to receive prize
Paul Galinski

International Choral Kathaumixw organizers have requested that City of Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa travel with the delegation delivering a totem pole to the Choir of the World in Slovenia.

Paul Cummings, artistic director of Kathaumixw, made the request during a presentation to council on Thursday, December 18. The specially carved totem pole will be taken to Ljubljana, Slovenia, to be officially awarded to the St. Stanislav’s Youth Choir, judged to be the finest at the 2014 choral festival held in Powell River.

Cummings told council the totem pole is six and a half feet tall and it was Formosa’s idea to award the totem pole to the winning choir at Kathaumixw.

“Not only were we to give them this totem pole but we were to transport the totem pole to whatever village, town or city the winning choir had come from,” Cummings said. “Mayor Formosa thought, and I agreed, that it would be a great way to highlight our festival and to show the world that Kathaumixw was still out there. It’s a very competitive choral world with hundreds and hundreds of festivals.”

Cummings said the idea fit into Kathaumixw’s first nations theme and it was believed the totem pole would attract choirs to Powell River to take this great prize home.

“It hasn’t disappointed,” he said.

Nine partners were taken on for the project, each providing $2,000 for the totem pole budget. The budget provided money for Tla’amin (Sliammon) Nation artist Craig Galligos to carve the totem pole, for delivering it, and also for chronicling the project. Filmmaker Claudia Medina has been filming the project for months and completed her local filming about a month ago. It is hoped that she can follow the totem pole to Slovenia if money can be found for her travel.

The totem pole had several public appearances prior to Kathaumixw. There was a blessing held at the waterfront at Spirit Square in June and then the totem pole was carried up to city hall, where it was exhibited for a week prior to the festival. At the gala opening concert for International Choral Kathaumixw, the totem pole was unveiled.

“At the gala closing ceremony it was a very big deal, discovering who was going to be the choir of the world,” Cummings said. “The judges had a really tough decision and they ultimately decided the choir of the world would be the St. Stanislav’s Youth Choir from Slovenia.

“This totem pole could have gone to Abbotsford, or it could have gone to Russia. We did hope it would go somewhere really dramatic or to a place where it would be seen as a great prize and a proud thing to bring home to their country. We could not have been happier with the response that we got from the Slovenians when they found out they had won. It was really a special moment.”

Cummings said the trip to deliver the pole and the trade mission to Slovenia is coming together remarkably well. Three official events have been organized. There are two concerts and one event in the location where the totem pole will be permanently located.

The trip to Slovenia will be made in May when the St. Stanislav Academy has its annual concert in a concert hall in the city of Ljubljana.

The totem pole budget covers the cost of travel for Galligos and Cummings. There will also be a delegation from Powell River Academic of Music going and possibly a group from Tla’amin.

Cummings said other partners have been invited and he was appearing before council to request that the mayor also attend.

“Not only was it his idea but he was the force behind getting the project off the ground,” Cummings said. “The City of Powell River will be on display in Slovenia. We will be encouraging Slovenians to visit Powell River. We need Mayor Formosa on this tour to complete the project.”

The estimated cost of travel to Slovenia for the mayor is just shy of $2,500. The matter was referred to the city’s budget committee for consideration.