2017 FESTIVAL‎ > ‎


2017 Festival Choir featuring singers from Germany, Russia, USA & Vietnam under the direction of Dr. Julian Ackerley.

S WITHOUT BORDERS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL CHOIR is formed for each Children of the World in Harmony International Youth Choir & Dance Festival. The choir is comprised of singers from all participating choirs and other singers who apply to sing in the Festival Choir.

Voices Without Borders (VWB) selects an internationally renowned director to conduct the Festival Choir. The choir is featured in the Festival Gala Concert, at its own concert, and other related concerts during the festival. Previous Festival Choir directors have included Jester Hairston (USA), Evy Lucio (Puerto Rico), Linda Manuilow (USA), Alfredo Mendoza (Mexico), Pablo Puente (Mexico), Professor Yang Hong Nian (China), Dr. Yip Wai Hong (Hong Kong), Erkki Pahjola (Finland), Wanna Volvanna (Finland), Elza Lakschevitz (Brazil), Oscar Escalada (Argentina), Dr. Julian Ackerley (USA) and Dr. William Skoog (USA).

The 2021 VWB INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL CHOIR DIRECTOR is Dr. William Skoog, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. He conducts the Rhodes Singers, Chamber Singers and the Master Singers Chorale, often conducting them with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Works he has conducted with them include Requiems by Brahms, Faure, Verdi, Mozart, and DeMars, Bach's B Minor Mass, Britten's War Requiem and Handel's

Messiah and Israel in Egypt, to name a few. He also serves as founding Artistic Director for Bel Canto, a professional Men's Chamber Ensemble in Memphis. Dr. Skoog previously taught at Bowling Green State University, Indiana/Purdue University, and Southwestern Michigan College. His choirs have performed with distinction at numerous ADCA, MENC and IMC conferences. His credits include administrating and conducting the 2016 Brubeck Festival in Memphis, Tennessee. He enjoyed his Carnegie Hall conducting debut in May 2017. Skoog frequently conducts regional, national and international choral festivals. He has served as Artistic Director and Conductor for International Choral Festivals including the 2018 Dublin Choral Festival, the 2014 Paris International Choral Festival featuring the European premier of Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms, and festivals in Salzburg (Mozart Festival), Rome (Italy), Lucerne (Switzerland), and the Dvorak Festival in Prague and Vienna. He has conducted the Dom Orchestra in Salzburg, the Tuscan Chamber Orchestra (Florence, Italy), the Santa Maria Orchestra (Switzerland), the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Moravian Symphony Orchestra, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (Ireland) and the Memphis, Toledo and Fort Wayne Orchestras (USA). He conducted the Presidents Day Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2011. He and his wife Elaine, of 32 years, have two daughters, Rebekah and Jacquelyn, and three dogs-Marmalade, Nutella and Brisket (photos available upon request).

As a grand finale to the festival’s gala concert, Dr. Kukuk is planning to present a 300-Voice VWB International “Virtual” Festival Choir to perform two songs, “The Borders Disappear", a song by composer Timothy Takach that was commissioned earlier this year as a tribute to VWB Founders Sara Russell and Jack Kukuk and the world premiere of “Voices

Without Borders,” a newly commissioned song for the VWB International Festival Choir with music by New York composer David Shenton.

In the event the COVID-19 virus allows and the government travel restrictions are removed, it may be possible for some live participation in the Festival Choir. In this case the 300-Voice virtual choir will appear on the screen on stage above the live and in-person singers from Michigan and neighboring states and Canadian provinces. “Viva VWB.”