Valley Voices Choir to sing at Carnegie Hall

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Allyson Kuechmann leads the Valley Voices Community Choir during a rehearsal Monday. The choir will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City in November. (Katheryn Houghton/Daily Inter Lake)

The Valley Voices Community Choir has been invited to perform at New York City’s world-famous Carnegie Hall in November after being “discovered” via a YouTube video the choir posted online.

Forty members of the choir plan to make the trip to participate in a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” as part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York concert series on Sunday, Nov. 27.

“It’s a pretty big honor they have selected us,” Valley Voices Director Allyson Kuechmann said. “I was walking a foot off the floor when I found out.”

The Flathead Valley choral group is the only choir in the Pacific Northwest to be invited to the prestigious concert this year. Local vocalists will join with other singers from around the world to form the Distinguished Concerts Singers International choir.

Kuechmann, who has directed Valley Voices since it began in 2000, said she received an email last summer from Neil McDonald, a Distinguished Concerts’ talent scout who had seen a YouTube video featuring the Valley Voices.

“Normally people send in audition tapes,” she said, “but he said, ‘You’re exactly what we need.’”

Jonathan Griffith, artistic director and principal conductor for Distinguished Concerts International New York, said the choir received the invitation “because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers.

“These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community,” Griffith said in a prepared statement.

Choral groups with more than 10 members participating, including the Valley Voices, will get a special listing on the playbill outside Carnegie Hall.

Valley Voices members will spend five days and four nights in New York City in preparation for the concert. They will practice close to 10 hours for the concert.

It’s a huge financial commitment for the choir, Kuechmann said, so the group has launched a massive fundraiser called “Destination Carnegie Hall.”

The choir hopes to raise $2,500 per member attending — a total of roughly $100,000 — between now and Thanksgiving Day when they fly to New York City.

A gala concert event is planned May 22 at Glacier High School as the choir’s premier fundraiser. Popular local musicians such as Rob Quist, Andre Floyd and The Luke O’Connell Band will be among the featured performers. More information about the gala will be forthcoming.

“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Kuechmann said about the Carnegie Hall performance.

Valley Voices Community Choir was launched 16 years ago after members of the Sweet Adelines asked Kuechmann about forming a choir that included both men and women, Kuechmann said. The 70-member choir performs two free concerts a year.

“It’s an enthusiastic group,” she said. “I have a music committee that works hard on choosing, fun, uplifting music.”

Kuechmann’s experience in choral directing is well-known in the Flathead Valley. She and her family moved to Kalispell in 1996, and the following year she started directing a valleywide home-school choir. She continues to direct that choir.

Those interested in donating to the Valley Voices’ “Destination Carnegie Hall” fund may reach Kuechmann by email at valleyvoiceskalispell@gmail.com or call 406-250-5058. The community also will be able to make donations in the near future on the choir’s website, www.valleyvoiceschoir.com.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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