Dustin Willetts - Artistic Director
Dustin Willetts is one of the most in-demand artistic directors of the Pacific Northwest. Willetts currently directs Kulshan Chorus (Bellingham, WA), Cantabile Chamber Choir (Skagit Valley, WA), and the Sno-King Community Chorale (Edmonds, WA)
Willetts has received critical praise from around the world as he takes his audience and singers to a place that may elicit a wide range of emotions: anger, grief, sorrow, compassion, pain, and hope. He was recently awarded the Whatcom Peace Builder Award and the Ken Gass Community Building award for his “Breaking Silence” project, “about the abuse, indignities, and harm done to women. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a concert that must be heard.” Outside of his work in the PNW, Willetts has conducted in over 20 countries, some favorites being - Norway, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.
Willetts was awarded a Master of Music from Western Oregon University. In addition to his artistic direction throughout the state of Washington, he started the Kulshan Youth Choir in Whatcom County, serves on the board of directors for the Seattle Children’s Chorus (since 2012), is an adjudicator and clinician, and performs as an instrumentalist (primarily on saxophone) for various events and sessions. Dustin and his wife, Lauren, live on Camano Island with their three fluffy-children.
Mary Somerville - Associate Director
Associate Director Mary Somerville first joined the Kulshan Chorus as a member in the spring of 1994. She had been a speaker at Bellingham’s second annual Martin Luther King Day celebration, heard the Kulshan Chorus and drawn to the power and message of our music, immediately proceeded to join the chorus.
With a history steeped in music, Mary proved to be a tremendous asset to Kulshan Chorus, not only as a singer and soloist, but also by serving in a myriad of positions over the years. In 1997, she was our rehearsal assistant. In 1998, shortly after the chorus became a non-profit, she joined the board and served as Secretary of the Board of Directors until 2013. She has served both as a backup accompanist and substitute director. In the winter of 2003, she was urgently asked to step in as Director for Kulshan Chorus’ “Bridge Over Troubled Water” concert. According to Mary, that concert - which featured Grammy Award winning musician and songwriter, Larry Knechtel, on piano - was “an experience of a life-time”.
In the spring of 2013, following the retirement of our founding director, Mary Somerville was asked by the Board of Directors to serve as the chorus’ Interim Director until a national search for a new director could be completed. Mary led the chorus through 2013, culminating with “A Joyful Noise” concert in December of that year. Dustin Willetts attended this concert and was impressed with Mary’s capable handling of the chorus as well as her slick dance moves. Once hired as Artistic Director, Dustin made clear his appreciation of Mary by naming her as our Associate Director, a position she has held since 2014.