Okotoks conductor takes university choir to school

Music: Tim Korthuis and Calgary choir at Okotoks United Church on April 4

By: John Barlow

  |  Posted: Friday, Mar 28, 2014 03:23 pm

Okotoks’ Tim Korthuis conducts the University of Calgary choir. The choir will be performing at the Okotoks United Church on April 4 at 7 p.m. in a free concert.
Okotoks’ Tim Korthuis conducts the University of Calgary choir. The choir will be performing at the Okotoks United Church on April 4 at 7 p.m. in a free concert.
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In preparation for his final exam a local musician will be bringing his study material to the Okotoks United Church.

On April 4 the University of Calgary choir will be making a rare appearance in Okotoks for a free concert with the Okotoks Men’s Choir at the Okotoks United Church starting at 7 p.m.

The concert will be the final performance for the choir, under the direction of Okotoks’ Tim Korthuis, before their concert at the university on April 9 which will be Korthuis’ graduation performance for his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Calgary.

“It has been a little overwhelming,” said Korthuis of working with the Calgary chorus over the last two years of his program. “When I was accepted it was pretty exciting, but also pretty terrifying.”

Born and raised in Okotoks Korthuis was working as a Worship and Arts pastor at the Okotoks Alliance Church while at the same time playing piano for the Big Rock Singers, Dr. Morris Gibson School choir and conducting the Okotoks Men’s Chorus.

However, things changed when he went to the Star Wars in Concert performance in Calgary was enraptured by the conductor — his confidence, his impact on the performance and the excitement.

Korthuis was so enamoured he applied to the University of Calgary’s Masters of Music program in Choral Conducting. However, the program only accepted one application each year and the Okotokian was not sure his undergrad degree from the Rocky Mountain Bible College would be enough.

It was, and two years ago Korthuis began what has been an incredible journey.

“Part of my journey with the university has been surreal,” he said. “I keep having these great opportunities.”

He has had the opportunity to study in Vienna, Bulgaria and with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, one of the most renowned professional choirs in the country.

“Being able to conduct internationally has been an amazing experience,” said Korthuis.

Although working with choirs around the world has been an incredible opportunity for the Okotoks pastor, his passion was to bring what he learned back to his community — likely one of the reasons he was chosen for the university program.

As part of his application Korthuis was asked why he wanted to study with the university choir program and his response was to “pour everything I learned into Okotoks and raise Okotoks’ art and culture community into an internationally recognized community.”

Korthuis will begin the next portion of his journey by bringing the 100-person University of Calgary Chorus to the Okotoks United Church.

“Working with a 100-person choir has its unique challenges, but we push them, we challenge them,” he said. “I have learned to be very clear in rehearsal with what you want to do.”

At the Okotoks concert the university group will be performing some familiar music such as the haunting “Oh Fortuna” from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, which is 800-year-old text from Latin priests which was put to music in the 1940s.

As well, there will be some not so well known pieces such as a selection from Canadian composer Harry Somers, who was one of the most influential and innovative Canadian composers of the past century.

There will be a lot of variety and regardless of whether or not the audience recognizes some of the pieces in the concert, Korthuis said he is hopeful those in attendance experience what he experiences when he listens to music — powerful emotions.

“Okotoks will be able to come and listen to some beautiful music,” he said. “I have seen what the power of music can do. I love to see people’s faces after a concert, having see people weep after hearing what their voices can do.”

The University of Calgary Chorus and the Okotoks Men’s Chorus will be performing at the Okotoks United Church on April 4 at 7 p.m. The concert is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information email tim.korthuis@gmail.com


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