Powell River Host Choirs
The Powell River Academy Choirs welcome choral friends from around the world during the International Choral Kathaumixw. The Powell River Academy of Music choral program is flourishing with performing choirs at all levels and encompassing all musical periods from Gregorian chant to 20th Century avant garde music, from the classics to folk to vocal jazz. The Academy vocal ensembles include the Apprentice Choir, Powell River Girls Choir, Powell River Boys Choir, Academy Singers, Powell River Youth Choir, Chor Musica and Academy Chamber Choir.
Beginning with a young boys choir in 1975, the Academy Choirs have reached out to the world under the leadership of Don James through concert tours, recordings, radio and television broadcasts sharing their music with enthusiastic audiences. The choirs have been guests at several important music, cultural and political events including the “Celebration for Peace” as guests of the City of Hiroshima and UNESCO, the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations San Francisco, Europa Cantat in Strasbourg, France 1985, Vittoria, Spain 1991, Herning, Denmark 1994, Linz, Austria 1997, Arnum, Netherlands 2000, Barcelona, Spain, 1993, Festival Internacional de Choros (Isla de Margarita, Venezuela), International Sympaatti (Espoo, Finland), Golden Gate International Children’s Choir Festival (USA and the Eisteddfod (Wales).
Academy Choirs have won many prestigious awards including first and second prizes in the CBC National Amateur Choir Competition in Children’s Contemporary Music and Youth Choir categories, the Golden Gate International Children’s Choir Festival and have been finalists in the European Broadcast Corporation’s “Let the People Sing” competition. Choirs from the Academy have sung with important orchestras and conductors in Canada, Europe and Asia. Their concert tours have included eighteen countries. The Academy Choirs have been important ambassadors for Powell River.
Academy Chamber Choir
Walter Martella, conductor
The Academy Chamber Choir, conducted by Walter Martella, consists of 39 singers from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. It is an amateur choir that, since its inception in 1994, has developed into one of Canada’s dynamic chamber choirs.
The choir has had the privilege of working with such celebrated conductors as the late Elmer Iseler (Canada), Jesper Jorgensen (Denmark), Jan Szyrocki (Poland) and Fred Sjoberg (Sweden). The choir has toured in Venezuela, Czech Republic, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Spain and France.
The Choir specializes in a cappella music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and regularly commissions new works by Canadian composers. They frequently collaborate with soloists, instrumentalists and other choirs in the performance of major choral works such as Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Walter Martella, Conductor
Chor Musica is a male voice community choir comprised of 40 singers. Formed in 1998, the choir provides an opportunity for men to explore and perform a variety of music written for the male choir. In its short history the choir has become popular with audiences of all ages. In 2007, the choir performed at the 3rd International Male Voice Festival in Cornwall, England and in 2013 performed concerts in the Yucatan, Mexico.
The choir returned to England for the 2015 Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival. The men were honoured to have been invited to sing in the opening ceremonies. More than 70 male choirs participate in this festival from across the world, the UK and Cornwall.
Chor Musica is conducted by Walter Martella with the assistance of Nancy Hollmann, piano.
Powell River Boys Choir
Walter Martella, conductor
Beginning with young boys in 1975, the Powell River Boys Choir under the direction of Don James reached out to the world through concert tours, recordings, radio and television broadcasts sharing their music with enthusiastic audiences. The Powell River Boys Choir has sang at the XIV International Society of Music Education conference in Warsaw, Poland, the International Eisteddfod (Wales) and have toured in Germany, Poland, Austria, England, Canada, Mexico and the USA.
Powell River Boys Choir has won many prestigious awards including first and second prizes in the CBC National Amateur Choir Competition in Children’s Choir and Contemporary Music categories and have been finalist in the European Broadcast Corporation’s “Let the People Sing” competition. In 1993 Walter Martella became conductor of the Powell River Boys Choir and has continued the excellent traditions of the choir.
Walter Martella, conductor and music director of the Powell River Academy of Music, is a pianist, trumpeter, and accordionist. Walter has taken the stage with many world class musicians and conductors. He has recorded 5 cds. Performing is a significant part of Walter’s career but just as important to him is his involvement with the Academy of Music. He is a strong believer in the power of music as part of community. Walter is currently the conductor of Chor Musica, Academy Chamber Choir, Powell River Boys Choir and the Powell River Chorus and has a full private teaching schedule. He is a graduate of Banff School, Vancouver Island University, UVIC, and the BCCF conducting program. He is a charter member of the Powell River Boys Choir.
Powell River Girls Choir
Megan Skidmore, conductor
The Powell River Girls Choir was formed in 1977 as a 'sister choir' to the now famous Powell River Boys Choir. It wasn't long until the choir was performing concerts and touring. In 1978 the choir joined the boys for their first LP recording. The choir develops concepts of good vocal production, blend, diction, music reading and stage deportment, and provides ideal preparation for subsequent choirs such as Academy Singers, voice and instrumental instruction.
Megan Skidmore, conductor
The Academy Singers began as an opportunity of advanced singers in the Boys & Girls choirs to perform repertoire with orchestra and contemporary music not usually sung by young choirs. They have been guests at several important music, cultural and political events including the “Celebration for Peace” as guest of the City of Hiroshima and UNESCO, the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations San Francisco, USA), Europa Cantat (Strasbourg), International Sympaati (Espoo, Finland) and the Golden Gate International Children’s Choir Festival (USA.) The Academy Singers have been important ambassadors for Powell River.
Megan Skidmore, Soprano, received both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Voice Performance from McGill University. She continued her studies at the Wiener Meisterkurze in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden bei Wien. She teaches voice at the Academy of Music and is music director of its Musical Theatre program.
Powell River Youth Choir
Paul Cummings, conductor
The Powell River Youth Choir is a thirty voice mixed choir with members ranging in age from 15 to 18. The choir specializes in a cappella music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and regularly commissions new works by Canadian composers. The Powell River Youth Choir frequently collaborates with soloists, instrumentalists and other choirs in the performance of major choral works. The choir has won prizes in the CBC National Amateur Choir Competition and in international, regional and provincial festivals. The Powell River Youth Choir has given concerts in North America, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Finland, Russia, Denmark, France and Italy singing in major festivals and concert halls. Their concert tours have included Europa Cantats in Strasburg, France 1985, Vittoria, Spain 1991, Herning, Denmark 1994, Linz, Austria 1997, Arnum, Netherlands 2000, Barcelona, Spain, 2003 and in 2005 Singing Week in Gent Belgium, 2007 in Ljubljana Slovenia and 2010 in Vic Spain.
Paul Cummings, Artistic Director of the International Choral Kathaumixw festival, is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and Western Washington University where he received his Master of Music in choral conducting. Mr. Cummings teaches vocal and instrumental music at Brooks Secondary School and the Powell River Academy of Music. He is an accomplished instrumentalist and singer and has been the director of the highly successful BC Vocal Jazz Festival. In 1995 Mr. Cummings received the Outstanding Music Educators Award from the British Columbia Music Educators Association.
Academy Apprentice Choir
Joanne Hansen, conductor
The Powell River Academy Apprentice Choir is for boys and girls in kindergarten, grade one, and grade two. It develops concepts of good vocal production, blend, diction, music reading and stage deportment.
The choir performs in Carols by Candlelight, Music Festival, Spring Sing, and Kathaumixw.
Apprentice Choir provides ideal preparation for subsequent choirs such as Boys or Girls Choir, Suzuki Strings, voice and instrumental tuition.
Founder & Artistic Director Emeritus
Don James, CM settled in Powell River after graduating in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington in the early 1970s. Over the past 37 years he has enjoyed a successful career as a conductor, music educator and musical entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Powell River Academy of Music, International Choral Kathaumixw and Symphony Orchestra & Opera Academy of the Pacific and recently elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Powell River Academy of Music. He has served as president of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools and, for a decade, was Canada’s representative on the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music & as a member of the Music Council of the World Choir Games. Mr. James has been a juror for the Juno Awards, CBC National Choir Competition, Miedzyzdroje Festival of Song in Poland, the national choral competitions of Sweden and the Choir Olympics in Korea and in China. Mr. James is the recipient of the Willan Award and Canada’s highest honour, the Order of Canada, in recognition of his distinguished service to music.