Children's Choir Festival Is Biggest Yet

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

British composer Bob Chilcott will conduct a 350-voice children's choir at a gala Hult Center concert Monday evening, concluding the eighth annual Pacific International Children's Choir Festival.

Joined by Dance Theatre of Oregon and a drumming ensemble, 12 choirs will combine to perform "The Making of the Drum," Chilcott's setting of poems by West Indian writer Edward "Kamau" Brathwaite.

The program also includes "Lux Aeterna" by Z. Randall Stroope, Aboriginal Song by Veiljo Tormis, the French Candian folksong "Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser," the South African freedom song "I Pharadisi," Chilcott's arrangement of U2's "MLK," the Nigerian carol ``Bethlehemu,'' ``Der herr segne euch'' from J.S. Bach's Cantata 196 and "Hope for Resolution," a 12th century chant setting of a fifth century text by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius.

Participants in this year's festival include two Australian choirs: Birralee Blokes and Brisbane Birralee Voices.

The U.S. groups are the Cochise Children's Choir (Arizona), Columbia Choirs (Kirkland, Wash.), Delta Children's Choir (Greenville, Miss.), Glorystar Children's Chorus (Potomac, Md.), Minnetonka Chamber Choir (Minnesota), Northland Children's Choir (Fairbanks), Oregon Festival Choirs (Springfield and Eugene), Ragazzi Boys Chorus (San Francisco), Spokane Area Children's Chorus, and Cantamus, an ensemble from the Seattle Girls' Choir.

Peter Robb, the festival's founder and artistic director, says this year's event will include the first choirs from across the ocean, the largest number of choirs and the most choristers ever, its first conductor

from another country and the addition of tenor and bass voices.

Based in London, Chilcott is principal guest conductor of the BBC Singers. He was a member of the King's Singers from 1985 to 1997, when he became a full-time composer.

Chilcott got the idea for "The Making of the Drum" from the "incredible respect and care" that airport baggage handlers took while loading a drum he had purchased while visiting Uganda.

"The drum to them is a living spirit," Chilcott says, and the poems of "Kamau" Brathwaite, a native of Barbados, "are a celebration of how that spirit is brought to life. …