On September 11, 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City changed the world.  As a result, some people now no longer feel they can travel safely with their families to experience other cultures and feel as welcome as they once did. Some parents no longer feel confident that they can take their children to other countries and thereby broaden their positive world-view.  Voices Without Borders works hard to bring young people together to help them come to better understand their counterparts from other cultures and to share experiences that only involvement in a non-competitive music and dance festival can offer them.  

Local host families here invite our visiting singers and dancers from around the World into their homes to share their lives and family customs with our guests.  Our visitors have an opportunity to get to know how real American families live: experiences which often help to break down the negative stereotypes some children overseas have been taught to believe in about American life through what they have been taught about us in films, on television and in the news.  Our host families also learn first-hand about the customs of the visiting singers and dancers.  In this small way, we try to promote peace and understanding. We hope that one of the outcomes from this experience is that both hosts and visitors become more understanding of cultural differences and learn to celebrate the common hopes and dreams we all share.


The significance of the special VWB Festival Choir is that it is the Festival component that most completely exemplifies the Festival’s goal: “to develop friendships and promote peace and understanding between and among the festival participants through music, dance and the other arts and to provide meaningful cultural exchange experiences.”  Because of the composition of its members, the VWB Festival Choir represents the greatest cultural mix of participants for the longest period during the festival and its members spend the most time together of all of the Festival participants. This closer contact, combined with the fact that they will be staying with local host families, has the greatest potential for developing friendships with young people from other cultures.  

Many of the participant choirs also present folk music and dance ensembles representative of their countries during the VWB Festival choir’s rehearsals, concerts and social events. Another positive cultural/educational factor is that the director of the VWB Festival Choir is selected because he/she is a master teacher, is highly respected by young singers, and can facilitate the cultural mix, not only during the rehearsals and concerts, but during social activities as well.


Festival-week activities include the VWB Festival Gala Concert featuring all 150 Festival participants held on Friday, July 21st at 7:00pm at the Harbor Springs Performing Arts Center.  Other major concerts will be held in Boyne City, Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Indian River and Petoskey.  Pre & Post Festival concerts will be presented at Farmington Hills, Charlevoix, Beaver Island and other Michigan cities.


VWB's Little Traverse Youth Choir was founded in 2010 after the first festival held in northern Michigan. The Little Traverse Youth Choir is a tuition-free choir open to singers ages 7-19 and consists of the Little Traverse Youth Choir and the Little Traverse Treble Choir. To learn more about the Little Traverse Youth Choirs, please visit www.littletraverseyouthchoir.org.