The Glacier Symphony and Chorale has taken on Micah Hunter of Kalispell to lead the 80-voice Glacier Chorale for its 2014-15 concert season. Hunter is only the third conductor for the 32-year-old symphony organization and he replaces Dr. James Stanard who retired at the end of May. Stanard had been conducting the choir since 2006 when he took the reins from founding chorale director, Shauneen Garner. At age 30, Hunter is also its youngest conductor.
Hunter’s position with GSC will be part-time as the Glacier Chorale performs only three major choral concerts each year; a full chorale concert in November, a rendition of Messiah with a small orchestra in December and a combined full orchestra and chorale concert in March. In prior years the chorale has performed a widely varied repertoire ranging from light operas, such as “Pirates of Penzance,” to the monumental choral works of “Beethoven Symphony No. 9” and last season’s “Sea Symphony.” The Glacier Chorale also has a small chamber choir that Hunter will direct.
In the meantime, Hunter will continue his full time job as Chorale Director of Kalispell’s Stillwater Christian School a post for which he was hired in August 2006, immediately upon his graduation from Montana State University. At the school he is responsible for teaching choir students from kindergarten through high school in a range of topics from general music to chamber and concert choirs, to music theory, history and literature.
Hunter’s road to becoming a music teacher, and now a symphony choral conductor, started in the tiny town of Hot Springs, Montana where his family moved when he was five when his father became pastor of the Hot Springs Bible Church. His graduating class had 15 students and no formal music education program. But there was a bright note in the form of Susan Kretszchmar, a dedicated music teacher who encouraged the young Hunter to pursue his dreams.
“I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a teacher. It was between math, science or music, but by the end of 8th grade I knew it had to be music–not because Hot Springs had any kind of good music program, it was Mrs. Kretszchmar who really invested in me,” Hunter said. “When I began with the violin in 5th grade, she agreed to teach me after school and I kind of taught myself the instrument.”
Upon graduating Hunter was accepted at Montana State University and says he landed in college with nothing but a love for music.
“I wasn’t really good enough to be a violin major and by that time I wanted to sing so I enrolled in Lowell Hickman’s voice studio for all four years. I really didn’t receive any formal music education until college,” he said.
A bass/baritone, Hunter sang with the college’s elite choir, The Montanan’s, all four years and also helped with the University Chorus, did opera scenes and sang with the Inter-Mountain Opera Chorus. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education in 2006 with highest honors and was lauded with awards for outstanding service to the University receiving an Alumni Award for Excellence.
Since college he has been busy pursuing graduate degrees.
“My graduate school experience has been very convoluted because I haven’t been willing to quit teaching to do it. So I combined online courses, residential summer work and weekends to build my first masters degree,” Hunter said.
He attended Boston University, Pensacola Theological Seminary, and Canyon College, where he earned the Master of Arts degree in music education in 2007. While at Pensacola he met his future wife, Rachel, who was also a music major. Later he obtained a Doctorate of Sacred Music from the Theological Foundation, in Indiana. Currently he is working on a second degree a Master of Church Music in Choral Conducting, from Pensacola Theological Seminary.
Hunter believes that music helps people to realize their humanity in a unique way.
“You will not sing meaningfully unless your whole person is committed to it. I can have great training and technique but it won’t be my best if my heart’s not in it. My personal challenge as a conductor is being in front of a choir and giving every person in the choir a reason to commit their whole person to the song,” he said.
The Glacier Chorale will hold an open audition for new singers on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Glacier Symphony and Chorale office, located at 69 North Main St. in Kalispell. Hunter will schedule the audition times between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. In order to audition singers must schedule a time in advance by emailing Hunter email@example.com.
They do not need to bring a resume, but will be asked to sing scales, arpeggios and do some sight reading of music. Tenors and bass singers are strongly encouraged to audition and high school students are welcome to audition as well. For more information about the Glacier Symphony and Chorale and its programs visit the website www.gscmusic.org or call 407-7000.
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