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- Icons By Maria Maldonado
UM partnership ever-present as International Choral Festival rings in tenth anniversary
In 1987, UM music Professor Donald Carey asked the community to help bring to life his dream of an international choral festival in Missoula.
The response was resounding.
Dozens of local families agreed to host performers from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, and Poland, as well as Minnesota, South Dakota, and across Montana.
The festival drew such a buzz that audiences burst expectations. Organizers had to relocate the finale concert from a high school gym to Missoula’s largest indoor venue: the Adams Center.
A first-year music student at the time, Anne Marie Brinkman ’92 remembers Carey’s enthusiasm as he rallied UM students to volunteer at the inaugural festival.
“He’s just amazing,” Brinkman says, “and the whole way it got started was just completely grassroots.”
Carey had experienced the cultural delight of international festivals as conductor of the UM Chamber Chorale when it participated in the Festival International de Chant Choral in Nancy, France, in 1983. Two years later, he toured Europe as director of the Missoula Mendelssohn Club. As the chorus shared its songs with welcoming European countries, Carey and his fellow choristers believed Missoula also had the hospitality to host an international event.
“People just took it on, and then the community just embraced it,” says Brinkman, now executive director of the triennial event. “And here we are, this many years later, still in the same position with the great relationship with the University and the community embracing us.”
Missoula will celebrate the Tenth International Choral Festival July 13-16. About 100 local volunteers and more than 100 families will host thirteen choirs from ten countries across four continents. Current UM Chamber Chorale Conductor David Edmonds will lead a new Missoula youth choir, Bella Armonia, during this summer’s festival. In tune with tradition, UM’s Adams Center will host the finale concert, with the Music Recital Hall and Dennison Theatre acting as the two main concert venues during the week.
Brinkman says she still consults with Carey throughout the planning process.
“We haven’t strayed far from the original idea of just bringing super-great, world-class choirs from all around the world to share their culture,” Brinkman says. “We do come up with new ideas every festival, but the core idea—which was [Carey’s]—is always present. It’s wonderful to keep that tradition up.”
For more information visit www.choralfestival.org.