Posted March 17, 2008
If you think it’s difficult arranging for outstanding choirs from around the world to come to Pocatello every two years for the Idaho International Choral Festival, imagine finding local housing for the hundreds of participants that will be arriving in July!
This year’s festival is slated for performances from July 16th through the 20th, with the potential for a record number of choirs and participants in the every-other year event. Gary Ball is the Festival Housing Coordinator, and says this summer’s songfest could pose a major challenge for him, “The most we’ve ever housed here in Pocatello in the past has been about 180 people, but this year I would say it’s not unreasonable for us to expect well over 200 participants …maybe even approaching 250!” He says that means they’re depending on a lot of generous area residents to open their homes, “There’s just no way we could make this festival so great without the people of Pocatello and Chubbuck and the surrounding area. I look at the numbers we may have coming and I get very nervous, but then I think about the great people that live here and I start to feel better.”
Alpha Gregory, the director of the Australian choir that came to Pocatello in 2006, says her choir members had such a great time with their host families they almost didn’t want to leave, “One of the major concerns for a conductor planning to travel is the billeting for the choristers. At Pocatello, our singers arrived each morning absolutely thrilled to bits and dying to tell every one of the wonderful things they’d seen and done! They were enlightened, entertained, intrigued, informed and best of all, they were treated with the sort of care that one expects to receive as a loved family member. It was fantastic!” Anneke Knoll was one of those Australian singers, “I really enjoyed my stay in Pocatello. My billets were like family and it did not feel like I was away from home at all! It was one of the best experiences of my life and I could not have asked for a better family to stay with.”
Ball has been doing a lot of networking already, hoping to get adequate housing lined up. He says all you need is a bed and an open heart and you qualify as a host, “We’re looking for families that can accommodate between two to four visitors during the festival, as one bed will provide a place to sleep for two visitors. It’s not an inconvenience for them at all to share a bed.”
Host families are also asked to provide some meals for their guests, along with transportation to and from Idaho State University, but in return they will receive free tickets to some of the performances, and will also get discounts on food and services throughout the community during their participation. He says the best way to volunteer is to go to the Festival web page at www.idahointerchoralfest.org, and put your information down in the “Host a Choir Member” link inside the “Volunteer” section.
Although the final list of participating choirs can change up to the last minute because of potential travel difficulties, groups that have so far sent in applications to take part in the 2008 Festival include those from Brazil, Romania, Algiers, The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Lithuania and two groups from the United States. A choir made up of outstanding singers from high schools around eastern Idaho is also expected to take part. Residents who may speak the home language of visiting choirs are especially encouraged to volunteer as hosts.
More information about this year’s festival can be found online at http://www.idahointerchoralfest.org.