The eighty voice Harbor Choral Youth Choir & the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company in Jonathan Willcocks' "Snow White" at DeVos Performance Hall in 2006

Participant letters

The Harbor Choral Festival of Music occupies an important niche, not only in the lives of Western Michigan residents, but also for those of us who cheerfully and enthusiastically travel hundreds of miles every summer to participate.

The chance to work with a world-class musician, Jonathan Willcocks, to sing major works every day with others who love classical music, and to present a concert at the end of the week so that we can share the fruits of our labors with others … these are the things that make life worth living!

A key component of the Festival is the Youth Choir, which provides the opportunity for youngsters to experience the thrill of working together to take the notes off the page and make music … under the baton of Mr. Willcocks, who served for many years as Director of the Junior School of the Royal Academy of Music in England. Children are the future not only of the Festival, but also of choral music itself, and for this generation, with Twittering, Facebook, IM, and texting, the Festival provides an opportunity they can find nowhere else. It’s especially gratifying each year to see how many children who began in the Youth Choir ‘graduate’ to the adult Festival Chorus. Some of the older ones even sing in both!

Great music inspires, comforts, relaxes, and motivates. Please help to sustain the Harbor Choral Festival!

Linda Hemphill
Alexandria, VA

My daughters, Aurora and Denali have participated in the Harbor Choral Festival in Holland for seven years. After the first year, we knew the Festival would be a summer activity that we would not want our girls to miss. The quality of education that the children receive in a condensed week is unprecedented. A group of children of all ages with various talents come together for only one week and Jonathan transforms them magically into a fully professional and glorious choir. The performance is of the highest quality and thoroughly entertaining. The audience is always dazzled and amazed.

We have planned our summer vacations around the practices and performances. The girls have looked forward to it every year.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity that you have provided to our children and to other children in our area. Thank you for always making participation open to everyone through your generosity, scholarships and donations.

Debra Mokris

We have sung with you every summer since the very first opportunity and we have been delighted with the quality of the music, the superb direction of Jonathon Wilcocks, and the outstanding organization of Harbor Choral.

Barbara and Jerry Bakker

I am writing to express my appreciation for the Harbor Choral Festival. We first heard about it from friends whose kids had participated 3 years ago. Since then, our son and daughter have sung each summer in the summer festival. They look forward to it and ask to be in it; it is not something I have to convince them is good. Mr. Willcocks has a very down-to-earth and enthusiastic approach with the children, and the music and accompaniment are always fresh and new.

Laura and Cory Senti

Two summers ago we were introduced to the Harbor Choral Youth Choir when both of my daughters were given the opportunity to sing in the choir. Last summer my older daughter danced during the Youth Choir's performance of Jonathan Willcocks' The Whale, while my younger daughter sang in the choir.

We have been so impressed with this unique and rewarding experience that has been made available to children in the Holland area and have rearranged our family calendar both last summer and this coming summer to ensure our children's participation in this choir. The quality of both the training and performances of this choir is outstanding, and we are very fortunate to have such an outstanding opportunity for musical training so accessible to our children.

Chris and Tami Gibson

How I look forward to another vocal music opportunity the summer of '10!
The experience of this week-long festival of music is most satisfying. The challenge of mastering a renown composition and practicing for hours each evening followed by a concert performance is exhilarating. The dress rehearsal with hundreds of singers and instrumentalists gathering from the lakeshore area is a peak experience. The actual concert, even more so.
I appreciate that some years we sing Willcock's creations. Each year the children perform his compositions beautifully. Jonathan promotes such enthusiasm for music by his presence as a choral director, and with the exceptional score he writes or selects. He has a unique personality to inspire.
This project builds a strong community relationships. We singers pay a nominal fee to gather and sing with those who become good friends. The greater/extended community purchases inexpensive tickets to listen to an outstanding performance with both professional and novice musicians in a local venue.
I look forward to another successful Harbor Choral session this summer.

Charlotte Leaske


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