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Foothills Philharmonic Society returning accelerando

“We're trying to encourage more people to come out and make music together and really enjoy the community of making music again,” said Foothills Philharmonic Choir director Tim Korthuis.
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Tim Korthuis and Terry Lee, pastors and conductors of the Foothills Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra respectively, at the Okotoks Alliance Church.

The return of the Foothills Philharmonic Society (FPS) is reaching a crescendo.

“Each year we go through COVID we’re just peeling back a little of the COVID situation,” said Foothills Philharmonic Choir director Tim Korthuis. “Like a rose blooming where as the seasons are going it’s like, ‘OK, we have an orchestra going, orchestra and chorus are going, then our chamber choir is going.’

“So this September our Opera Choir is performing with the Calgary Concert Opera on Sept. 17 in Okotoks, so we’re excited to be a part of that.

“Then on Oct. 28-29 our orchestra and chamber choir are doing a concert and the chorus and orchestra are doing a joint concert Dec. 9th and 10th.”

As the society makes its return, it, like others, is looking to bolster numbers.

“We're trying to encourage more people to come out and make music together and really enjoy the community of making music again,” Korthuis said.

“To remember the health that comes with being in the community with people and to be making music and working on a goal of making something beautiful together, it’s a really inspirational thing to do.”

Those cohesive bonds are a driving force for the group of musicians.

“Building relationships, building friendships, there's a real mental health aspect too,” Korthuis said.

Come January, the addition of beginner and intermediate youth strings and orchestra groups will further diversify the society’s opportunities.  

Pioneered by two local musicians, violinist Madeline Bailey and cellist Karen Dees, the idea came about when they were discussing the lack of youth strings or orchestra options in the Foothills region.

“We were talking about how many string players are in Okotoks and High River and how it would be nice to offer the option, to have something in town,” Bailey said.

“It’s still a pilot project, but it’s giving parents and kids in Okotoks, High River and the Foothills the option to not have to go to Calgary and really invest in our community.

“Most people drive to Mount Royal or another string program in Calgary.”

The program is aimed at anyone from five to 18 that’s taking or has taken lessons.

“We’ll have a beginner and intermediate group, and if there’s ever a need we’ll open an advance group eventually, if we find there’s enough players,” Bailey said.

The program seems a natural fit for Korthuis, given the intergenerational ties of music.

“We have lots of overlap with musician parents who make music with us, then their children who may be learning with Madeline and Karen,” Korthuis said.

“Then we can all perform together. There’s a lot of weight to being a single organization and there’s all these great musical things going on that can all be advertised together and have a similar vision.

“Let’s provide opportunities for our kids to make great music here in the Foothills.”

The new addition would share its origins of being born out of creating a localized incubator for the music arts, he added.

“It’s the same vision as the entire Foothills Philharmonic Society,” Korthuis said. “It's just continued to grow and grow and as we continue to peel back the petals on that flower after COVID I’m sure we’ll be making more music together.”

For information on joining the Foothills Philharmonic Society or about upcoming shows, visit

Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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