Building A New Festival For Young Singers

Investing in the next generation, Albany Pro Musica launches 2023 Pro Musica International Choral Festival


Music education - and inspiring a new generation of singers - is central to the mission of Albany Pro Musica, which has been elevating choral music in New York's Capital Region since 1981. Now, the chorus is embarking on its largest educational project yet, launching the inaugural Pro Musica International Choral Festival to be held in the summer of 2023. In partnership with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen’s University in Ontario and the University at Albany, this new festival will bring students across the U.S. and Canada together to study and perform with distinguished faculty and world-class musicians. Thanks to a generous grant from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., the costs of tuition, room, and board are fully covered for every participating student.

With its longstanding commitment to working with young singers, Albany Pro Musica understands the value of bringing in a top-notch faculty to engage with the students, including one person with whom the Chorus America community is certainly familiar. We asked Rollo Dilworth, our current board member and past chair, a few questions about the inaugural festival, where he will serve as festival guest conductor and composer, and direct the closing performance including a new work commissioned from him for the festival.


How did you first become involved with the Pro Musica International Choral Festival? What attracted you to it?

I first learned about the Pro Musica International Festival through an exhibit at a Chorus America conference. I became attracted to the festival after learning about the mission of Albany Pro Musica and its commitment to the choral music education of young people.

Rollo Dilworth, Chorus America board member and past chair, will be the 2023 Pro Musica International Choral Festival Guest Conductor & Composer


What’s your perspective as a guest conductor, working intensively with a large group of students that has just come together for a short time? How do you develop a rapport and musical chemistry so quickly?

In addition to my job of building the artistry of the students, it is critical that I work equally hard to build community among them. I believe that conductors must allow time for the singers to get to know one another even as they are learning the music in rehearsal. Even though we are only together for a short period of time, it is imperative that we develop a collective identity and learn to operate as a team. Every voice matters, and every voice is crucial to the success of the ensemble. While it is true that “choral blend” is necessary in order for the ensemble to achieve its goals, it is equally important for each singer to be assured that they can bring their individual vocal talents to the teaching and learning experience.

What are the highlights of the inaugural 2023 festival that you’re most looking forward to?

I look forward to singers from diverse backgrounds coming together to explore repertoire representing a vast array of cultural traditions and style periods. Essentially, my hope is that everyone will leave the experience having learned about a musical or cultural tradition that is different from their own lived experience.

Albany Pro Musica hosts an annual day-long High School Choral Festival - and the organization's commitment to engaging young singers will expand through the Pro Musica International Choral Festival in a week-long format.


What do you hope that participating choirs and singers will gain from their experience working with you, and throughout the festival week?

I hope that participating choirs and singers will develop a deeper appreciation for choral music and its power to teach us valuable and important life-lessons about the world around us.

What is the focus of your commissioned composition? What can students look forward to when they’re singing with you?

I hope the commissioned work will be inspiring and empowering. I want the text and music to encourage choral artists to use their voices in song for the purpose of making positive contributions to the communities they serve. Major themes of the work will include unity, equality, community, and social justice.


The inaugural Pro Musica International Choral Festival will be held July 16-22, 2023 in Kingston, Ontario, with space for 150 high school musicians. Applications are open to individual singers and choirs, now open through January 31.

This article is sponsored by Albany Pro Musica. Thank you for supporting the partners that make Chorus America’s work possible. If you are interested in learning more about sponsored articles, please contact us at [email protected].