Powell River Academy of Music
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History of Kathaumixw

A Brief History

Over three decades ago this dream began, and it started with a fateful handshake between two friends.

The idea of Kathaumixw was born because Don James, C.M., music director of the Powell River Academy of Music, wanted to establish an international choral festival in North America that would be on par with festivals he and the Academy Choirs had experienced in Europe.

KathaumixwHe was out hiking with his friend Dal Matterson, and inspired by the beauty of their surroundings, Don suggested to Dal that they organize a festival in Powell River. Dal agreed to be chairman of the festival, and in 1984 the two men, with a group of close friends, successfully organized and launched the first International Choral Kathaumixw. What happened next was beyond anyone’s expectations.

Since the first festival, which about 400 singers attended, International Choral Kathaumixw has taken place every two years. The festival almost doubled in size in 1986, and in 1988 it developed a definite international flavour. Today more than 1,200 singers from around the world gather at each festival to share their music, culture and friendship.

Kathaumixw has been a breeding ground for musical talent and innovation. Several works have been commissioned for festivals over the years, including staged choral works by Canadian and foreign composers. Each year the festival features Artists in Residence, internationally renowned soloists, orchestras and a distinguished international jury.

KathaumixwInternational Choral Kathaumixw has received tremendous support from the local community. In fact, volunteers ensure the success of the festival. Core Kathaumixw committee members work for months to organize the festival and all its details. Many Powell River community members volunteer around the time of the festival, and there is always a job to be done. From providing and organizing transportation to readying venues to planning meals and homestays, volunteers always step up to the plate. Many local people open their homes and welcome foreign visitors during Kathaumixw week.

Powell River is a beautiful, quiet town located on the Upper Sunshine Coast, about 80 air miles north of Vancouver. Citizens of this small community have gained tremendous pride in hosting the International Choral Kathaumixw and are pleased to have Powell River recognized worldwide for its choral activity.