When standing on a mountainside above it, the Flathead Valley is a wide open corridor of human influence on a wild landscape, a swathe of infrastructure and modernity nestled into the mountains and along the valley floor.
While the valley’s natural shape determines where and how our human civilizations grow, it also acts as a sort of funnel directing all sorts of people to live and recreate and work in proximity with one another.
And within that mix of humans exists a spectrum of beliefs, lifestyles, opinions, and preferences, all trying to move toward the common goal to survive and flourish. So it’s little wonder, then, that the folks of the Crown of the Continent Choir find such joy in their differences while they gather for a single purpose: to sing for fun.
Marvilla “Marvi” Davis, who took over as the choir’s music and artistic director last year, found this simple directive to be a revelation when she and her husband, Charles Davis, joined the choir a couple years ago.
They’d just moved to the Flathead in what was a homecoming for Marvi, who was raised and graduated high school in the valley before living and teaching in Alaska for 40 years, when they were approached by various groups to join in the fun.
Charles now also plays French horn in the Glacier Symphony.
“We both got our feet wet rather quickly,” Marvi said recently about the couple’s dive into the local music scene. “It doesn’t take long for people to find out if you have a background in some areas. We started singing and had a good time.”
Despite a career in music and teaching its various forms, Marvi said the Crown of the Continent Choir was a unique experience for her because of its inclusive nature.
“Its mission is unique; as many things as I’ve done I’ve never had the experience of working with a group that’s non-audition, all you have to do is want to sing,” she said. “It’s the only one of its kind. The mission is to sing for fun, social justice, environmental stewardship, spiritual fulfillment, and community.”
For those seeking even more singing experience, there is an auditioned group of 20 voices from the choir called Headwaters.
The choir is going on its eighth year in existence, and its mission has it singing at gatherings of many faiths, creeds, and persuasions. The group is non-sectarian and not-for-profit, with the goal of spreading joy and supporting community growth.
It’s a mission the Davis couple wanted to help promote, and Marvi figured her extensive musical background could help the choir as it moves forward.
Marvi had a degree in biology and music and was married to Mike Conn when she first moved to Alaska. Her husband passed away a year after they arrived in the new state, and Marvi stayed. She met Charles Davis because his father was the head of the music department at the University of Alaska, where Marvi earned her Master’s degree in voice performance.
She taught biology and music for a few years in Fairbanks before transitioning to teaching only chorale music; she then taught voice and chorale activities at the university, and helped found the Alaska Chamber Chorale. Charles, who also sings, has played the French horn for 49 years.
When the couple moved back to the Flathead at the insistence of their family, they became involved in the community straight away.
The choir has a wide cross-section of members, she said, with various ages, jobs, faiths, and backgrounds. Aside from a small tuition asked of members who are not students, the group hosts one fundraiser a year: the final concert.
This year’s final concert event, “Welcome Spring,” takes place May 12 at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. The lineup for the evening includes “Seal Lullaby,” “Make We Joy,” “Prayer for the Children,” and “Here Comes the Sun.” Admission is free.
The evening also includes a silent auction of gift baskets and other unique items, and sponsors for the songs to raise more money for the group. Concertgoers can purchase raffle tickets for Mother’s Day prizes, and there will be complimentary treats from Sweet Peaks Ice Cream.
Anyone interested in joining the Crown of the Continent Choir will have the summer to think it over, as the choir suspends activities during the busiest months of the year and picks back up in September. Interested folks can swing by rehearsals every Wednesday at the Flathead High School choir room from 7 to 8:15 p.m.
Marvi said anyone curious about the choir should stop by the May 12 performance for an evening of fun.
“We enjoy singing and we hope that people will come,” she said.
For more information on the Crown of the Continent Choir, visit www.crownchoir.org.