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Posted: May 24, 2019

More than 400 celebrate Music in the Mountains

More than 400 music lovers, audience and performers alike, celebrated Music in the Mountains Sunday afternoon, May 19.

They arrived from across B.C. and beyond for the culmination of the weekend’s Chorfest 2019 at Kimberley’s Conference Centre.

This B.C. Choral Federation’s annual gala attracted singers from 30 choirs and every part of the province and beyond. The event was hosted by the Kimberley Community Choir (Marta Zeegers, director) and the Cranbrook and Fernie Community Choirs (David Pasivirta, director).

From England came famed British musician Bob Chilcott. He conducted over 100 Adult Choir members, accompanied by Robert Holliston who is frequently heard on CBC radio.

Nationally recognized Vancouver Youth Choir founder and director Carrie Tennant led the 51 young people who had successfully auditioned for the BC Youth Choir, Kimberley’s Tim Plait their accompanist.

Lower Mainland’s jazz master, choral director and educator Paul Cumming directed the 31-member strong Chorfest Teen Choir with the support of pianist Christine Chepyha and a jazz band.

Gala emcee Jim Webster was joined by City of Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick in welcoming visitors. They provided a glimpse of Kimberley’s progressive leadership in the province, nodding to the earth-friendly emphasis the event featured. They both thanked the 40 volunteers from across the region, dozens of local businesses and enterprises, financial contributors, sponsors, patrons and “angels” plus the entire leadership of the BC Choral Federation required for such an undertaking.

While many participants were outstanding, the unequivocal “star” of the event was Bob Chilcott. His musical gift recognizable when he was three-years-old, he soon joined the Kings College Cambridge’s unequalled Boy’s Choir.

For years, he was one of the esteemed King Singers, then went out on his own. Now Principle Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers, he also is justly famous for his glorious gifts as a composer and arranger.

Friday evening, 108 adult singers from all parts of B.C. set to work under Mr. Chilcott’s direction, having spent prior months practicing the repertoire as choirs or individually. It was the beginning of three intense days “engaging” with Mr. Chilcott (as he calls his “style”) in rehearsal. Recognized globally for a variety of religious compositions, Mr. Chilcott had chosen to be more inclusive for Chorfest 2019.

The Adult Choir began with three arrangements he had made of traditional songs, most famously with Londonderry Air. Next were three songs of his own composition (working with poet Charles Bennett), drawn from their song-cycle Five Days That Changed The World: The Abolition of Slavery, The First Powered Flight, and The Discovery of Penicillin.

Leaving no one behind, Mr. Chilcott created a musical interlude by amassing all three choirs, 188 strong. He had chosen the Billy Joel song And So It Goes, having arranged it for The King Singers 25th Anniversary Jubilee.

Reflecting his own love of jazz and welcoming Nelson double bassist Rob Fahie and Kimberley drummer Josh Thorsteinson onto the stage, Mr. Chilcott brought the program to a close and the audience to its feet with three Jazz Folksongs he’d arranged, concluding with Waltzing Matilda!

Lead image: Chorfest2019 BC Youth Choir, Director Carrie Tennant, Accompanist Tim Plait (in performance). All photos by Andy Rice

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