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If you were inspired to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, you might just end up in Missoula, Mont. The two explorers camped nearby, both coming and going, as they traveled an Indian trail through the Bitterroot Mountains. This part of western Montana has changed much since they passed by, of course, but its natural beauty remains. It is a good place for hiking and fishing, running rivers or relaxing at a guest ranch. And once every three years, Missoula is host to the International Choral Festival--the only place anywhere to hear so many choruses from all over the world. "It is an extraordinary kaleidoscope of culture," says Maurice Casey, a retired choral director at Ohio State University.
This year, for the July 12-16 festival, 18 foreign and U.S. choirs will give free concerts in recital and concert halls, in school auditoriums, in the town's mall and even on street corners. The final evening brings all the choirs together, many of them in their national costumes, to perform at the 8,000-seat university field house. This year there is a newly commissioned work for orchestra and a massed choir of 800 that is set to text from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The composer is William McGlaughlin, former music director of the Kansas City Symphony and host of the National Public Radio's St. Paul Sunday. "I like writing for large forces," says McGlaughlin, "and it doesn't get any larger than this." --E.M.
Just for Laughs
The Cannes of Comedy--that's what everyone calls the Montreal festival Just for Laughs because it's the world's most important and best-attended comedy event. At the 1999 festival, 874 performers from 27 countries amused (or tried to) 1.2 million people at more than 2,000 shows that included numerous galas with such stars as Kelsey Grammer, Lily Tomlin and Denis Leary as hosts; stand-up in clubs all over the city; theatrical presentations; theme shows (relationships, X-rated, urban, gay, women only); and an improvisational tournament in English and French.
The festival this year, scheduled for July 13-23, will be even bigger. "Our goal at Just for Laughs is not only to continue to be the world's premier comedy event but also to be a cross between Lourdes and the Fountain of Youth," says the festival's chief operating officer, Bruce Hills, who is confident about the festival's happy effects on people. "We think we can cure all in Montreal in two days or two weeks!" To prove him right, be sure to attend the nightly outdoor party in Montreal's Latin Quarter, where hundreds of free events will take place. What makes the festival so unusual, according to comic writer Sean Kelly, who has composed routines for the show's galas, is "the outpouring of devotion to an American sitcom star and the very European stuff going on in the street--the contortionists, the guys making human pyramids or balancing 300 tin cans on a beach ball." Among the festival's most famous alumni are Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Chris Rock, Jay Leno and Janeane Garofalo. --By Valerie Marchant