As Alison Moulton played the last note on her flute of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, in the last concert of her college career, a wave of sadness crashed over her. She wasn’t choosing the path of a professional musician, and she knew the opportunity to play in a high-caliber orchestra post-college would be pretty slim.
But slim leaves room for hope to become reality.
Last fall, College of Idaho Choral Director Dr. Brent Wells formed the Treasure Valley Millennial Choirs and Orchestra (MCO)—a community organization which offers superb music training and professional performance opportunities to musicians of all ages and abilities. Moulton excitedly joined and relished the chance to once again perform in an orchestra setting, alongside those from all walks of life— business, agriculture, professional moms, etc.
“Just regular, normal people who love music,” said Moulton, who also serves as director of Caldwell Fine Arts at the C of I. “And they sound good.”
MCO was founded in Orange County, Calif., by two of Wells’ friends—brothers Brett and Brandon Stewart, whom he sang with in choirs during high school and college. The brothers developed the organization to bring in all ages, all faiths, with one voice and create top-notch opportunities for singers and instrumentalists to perform in the best concert halls.
“I see it as a need,” Wells said. “There are many great high school choral programs in the Treasure Valley and even some good adult singing opportunities, but I didn’t feel like there were any groups in southwest Idaho that said, ‘I want your whole family to be involved.’”
Performers from age four through adults, novice to amateur, all have the opportunity to learn and hone their music skills from top-notch conductors. While the adult choirs and orchestras are by audition, youth choirs are open to all.
MCO quickly gained popularity in California and spread to Arizona, Utah and Texas. It wasn’t long before the music community in the Treasure Valley wanted to form another branch. But the right conductor was needed. After the brothers found out Wells was teaching at the C of I, they reached out to him and asked if he would lead the group.
Already actively involved with the choral program and the music department at the College, why would Wells want to add another responsibility?
“One, that choir is a benefit to the community and a rising tide lifts all boats,” Wells said. “If we can improve the quality of music education in the Treasure Valley, that’s a win, and I’m all for that.”
Through word-of-mouth and a little advertising, Wells soon had musicians for the inaugural season. The group held its first performance this past Christmas at the Morrison Center in Boise. That’s when the musicians fully saw the vision that Wells and the MCO founders have known all along.
“There is something that is really magnificent about a large group of people, with the same heart, performing together,” Moulton said.
“I’ll do it until they kick me out.”
Rehearsals for the spring season have already started, as the Treasure Valley MCO prepares to perform once more at the Morrison Center on May 20. After that, the choirs and orchestras from all five states will travel to Washington, D.C. for a combined concert and to record an album.
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.