Powell River Academy of Music
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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, Academy Singers, 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

accThe 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.


Chor Musica
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 Dr. Moira Hopfe-Ostensen, piano.


Academy Singers
Walter Martella, conductor

The Academy Singers began as an opportunity for advanced youth singers 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.



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.


Academy Apprentice Choir
Joanne Hansen, conductor

apprenticechoirThe 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 Powell River's long-standing traditional Christmas concert Carols by Candlelight, the Rotary Club Music Festival, and Kathaumixw.

Apprentice Choir provides ideal preparation for subsequent choirs and build a life-long understanding and love of music.




Joanne Hansen's musical experience stems from piano lessons as a child.  She completed her A.R.C.T. In Piano Performance in 1977. At UVic she received a B. Ed. in Elementary Education with a minor in Music Education. For 15 years she taught Music in the Powell River district.  




Don James
Founder & Artistic Director Emeritus

donjamesDon 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 of the Powell River Academy of Music and International Choral Kathaumixw, and acts as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Powell River Academy of Music.  He has served as president of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors and the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools, as a member of the Music Council of the World Choir Games, and for a decade was Canada’s representative on the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music.  Mr. James has been a juror for the Juno Awards, the 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.

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