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Idaho State University Choral Invitational Festival Gives High School Students Valuable Opportunities

October 17, 2022

The Idaho State University Choral Invitational Festival will be held October 14-15 on the Pocatello campus.

Dr. Scott Anderson, Professor of Music and Voice, and Director of Choral Activities for the Department of Music at Idaho State University has been hosting the festival every fall for 29 years. 

Guest conductor is Dr. Lynn M. Brinckmeyer, Professor of Music, Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Director of Choral Music Education at Texas State University. Her research initiatives focus on developing young voices, music from across the globe, and music advocacy. She has conducted, lectured, performed, and presented master classes across the United States and internationally.

The Festival is an opportunity for high school choral students to meet other singers from around the state, and to work with a nationally recognized guest conductor. In addition, ISU Voice faculty provide masterclasses for selected high school soloists. 

“Every year I invite choirs from around the state to join this event on our campus,” Anderson says. “This year is special because it’s going to be the first time since the festival’s inception that all three of the Pocatello high schools are going to have choirs there at the same time.”

Anderson expects about 350 students from 12 Idaho high schools to attend. According to Anderson, many of the high school choral directors are ISU alumni. Not only is the event special because all three Pocatello high schools will be in attendance together, but all three of the conductors, Bradley Gray, Century High School; Bret Scherer, Highland High School; and Kerrie Tolman, Pocatello High School are graduates of the ISU Department of Music.

Kerrie Tolman, Pocatello High School Choir Director, says that her students will benefit from learning what the ISU music department has to offer them when they enter college.

“My students will get to learn from ISU music faculty and from Dr. Brinckmeyer,” Tolman said. “This is a great opportunity for their choral training while still in high school.”

Tolman has taught music for 27 years, but it is her first year teaching choir at Pocatello High School. She will be bringing about 60 students to the festival.

“I want to learn for myself what I need to do to help my school become a great outlet for choral education,” Tolman said, “and I feel like this will be a great place to start.”

Pocatello High School Senior Choir will be performing on Friday and attending a clinic with Dr. Brinkmeyer. They also have two young soloists joining a masterclass that will help all students to learn from their training. PHS Gate City Singers will perform on Saturday evening at the concert and many of the choir students will be attending all day Saturday to train vocally and perform in the Saturday evening mass choir

Bret Scherer, Highland High School Choral Director, will be bringing the HHS Chamber Choir and a few students from other choirs. He says that it is a great opportunity for his students to share, compare, and learn from each other. 

“There is a rather large rivalry between schools in Pocatello and music tends to unite people,” Scherer says. “The visiting choral conductor is an amazing musician and wonderful person. Singers will learn happiness and confidence through her teaching.”

Century High School Choral Director Bradley Gray, will be bringing 26 students, all of whom are members of the select choir, The Century Singers. Gray said he would love to see his students embrace working with the guest conductor with as much gusto as possible. 

“Getting new and interesting perspectives in all aspects of their education is so very important for student success,” Gray said. “The opportunity for collaboration cannot have its importance overstated.” 

All day Friday, October 14, individual high school choirs will work with Dr. Brinckmeyer on one or two pieces of music. Following those sessions in Jensen Hall, selected soloists from each school will participate in a vocal masterclass, led by ISU Voice faculty. This year, Dr. Diana Livingston Friedley, Dr. Geoffrey Friedley, and Michelle Adams will work with singers in the Stephen’s Performing Arts Center Rotunda. 

Participants spend the day Saturday in Jensen Hall rehearsing with Brinckmeyer. Gray says that performing in a concert hall like Jensen is a great opportunity for students.

“This gorgeous space presents a rare opportunity for students at the high school level,” he said. “And they get the experience of a much larger ensemble, which presents its own unique challenges and joys. Being a cog in such a massive group can often fundamentally change your perspective on a piece of music.”

For the evening concert the ISU Chamber Choir and ISU Concert Choir will perform, followed by individual high school choirs. The concert ends with the Festival Massed Choir, made up of all participants, under the direction of Brinckmeyer. 

“These students, even later in life, will rarely have an opportunity to work with such excellent professionals in such an exciting environment again,” Gray says. “I hope they take advantage of every minute of it.”

The ISU Invitational Choral Festival concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct.15 in Jensen Grand Concert Hall. Admission prices are $8 for adults, $6 for ISU faculty and staff,  $4 for pre-college students, and FREE for ISU students with ID.


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