Idaho States Journal


Idaho International Choral Festival ends on high note

By Joy S. Morrison - Journal Community Editor

   POCATELLO - Call it unbelievable!

   Some 350 singers of all ages representing eight nations came together on the stage of the Holt Arena Saturday in what businessman Arlo Luke called "a miracle of international friendship."

   This on-stage appearance of all the participants was the concluding number of the Gala Concert of the fourth Idaho International Choral Festival. William "Bill" Wiench, ISU coordinator, estimated there were about 3,000 in the audience, by far the largest crowd to attend this concert since the festival started in 1998. He also said there were 400 people at a concert on the ISU Quad given by Moscow Nights and Golden Girls and the Taipei Philharmonic Youth Choir. The festival is planned every two years.

   Mark Lawlor, festival artistic director, led the 12 choirs representing eight foreign countries and the United States in the finale, "Sing the World Together." This song was composed especially for the festival in 2002 by Dr. Randy Earles, chairman of the ISU Music Department, with lyrics by Lisa Horton. Since then, it has been used at each festival.

   The festival song begins with these words:

   "We come together, different minds

   "Yet all alike in heart."

   The words went along with Luke's remarks that in the first years of the festival, several of the 2004 choirs would not have been given permission to attend by their countries. He said a number of international choral festivals have been started in the U.S., but Pocatello is one of three still doing well. He called his involvement with the festival some of the best years of his life because of extensive support from many, including hundreds of volunteers, families who housed the visitors and the business community.

   The staging of the show was accomplished effectively by Karl Pettit, Cathy Conley and Geoff Ranere. Even though so many people were involved in the performance, the choirs moved on and off the stage without a hitch in an effective way.

   Co-chairman Paul Link emceed the final performance.

   He told the audience, "How blessed we are to share in this beautiful and diverse musical program. The festival is a product of the Camerata Singers, a choir founded in 1963 by Chilton Phoenix and Farris Edgley. Much of the leadership for the festival comes from members of the Camerata Singers."

   Sixty local youths, who had trained during the week under Tendekai Kuture, graduate student at the University of Idaho from Zimbabwe, opened the gala concert.

   The Moscow Nights and a youth group, the Golden Gates, from Russia, were spotlighted throughout the festival and also at the Gala Concert. They sat at the front of the stage during the 2 1/2 hour concert, performing between appearances by the choirs. The Moscow Knights' unusual instruments, Bayan accordion, Prima Balalaikis and Contrabass Balalaikist, attracted much attention.

   The audience had favorite choirs as the evening progressed, but all agreed that the caliber of the singing groups was the finest in the history of the festival. Besides Russia, the foreign choirs included:

   - Riga Girls' Choir from Latvia, which has given concerts at prominent concert halls, including the Dome Cathedral.

   - Los Cantores de la Unica, which was formed 13 years ago and specializes in popular music of Spain.

   - Kalevi Kammerkoor from Estonia, winner of many awards in their homeland.

   - Taipei Philharmonic Youth Choir of singers in the 17 to 26 age group who make concert tours all over the world.

   Other visiting choirs were;

   - Boston Eastern Heritage Chorus with a diverse membership drawn from vocalists from all walks of life.

   - Tahoma Girls Choir of members in the 7 to 20 age group making its third appearance at this festival.

   - Maryland Boy Choir made up of youths of all nationalities in the 8 to 14 age group.

   Representing Pocatello were the Portneuf Chamber Singers and the Camerata Singers, both under the direction of Mark Lawlor.

   On Sunday all the choirs and their host families met at upper Ross Park for a concluding picnic. Angela Anderson, a first-time choir hostess who entertained two girls from Taiwan, said her guests told her, "Everything here is big - the homes, the cars and the big food."

   When she mentioned religion to her guests, they told her, "We pray. We sing 'Ave Maria.'"

   The girls really enjoyed the Ross Park Zoo, particularly the elk and buffalo.

   Today the choirs will be returning home or joining in a one-day trip to Yellowstone Park.


Copyright 2004 Pocatello Idaho State Journal





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