By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Ill. -- A French children's choir will get a taste of American family life next month in Carthage.
The 50-member LeJeune Choeur Polyphonique De L'Ariege, or Young Polyphonic Choir, from Foix, France, will visit Carthage July 5-8 as part of the Blue Lake International Exchange Program.
Michigan-based Blue Lake offers a summer camp for students interested in the fine arts and sends groups to Europe to perform. In exchange, American communities, mainly in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois, host European groups performing in the U.S.
"They didn't have a host for the choir over the Fourth of July and were seeking an Illinois community," said Amy Graham, director of Carthage Community Development Committee. "I jumped on it."
Graham's offer will bring the choir members, ages 12 to 18, and chaperons to Carthage for one performance and an opportunity for them to experience small-town life.
"The kids will stay with American families. It's all part of the experience to get to know Americans and how they live," Graham said.
The group will arrive late Friday, July 5, and leave early Monday, July 8. In between, the group will take in some sights, including a Great River Road bus tour between Nauvoo and Hamilton and a tour of the Hancock County Courthouse, and spend time with their host families.
Carthage is the only community in Illinois to host the choir before it moves on to perform in Wisconsin and Michigan.
"The rest of the communities are rather large," Graham said. "They'll get a taste of the small Midwestern lifestyle here in Carthage."
The choir is one of seven European musical groups visiting Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan in 2013 as part of the exchange program.
Host homes still are needed for the choir and chaperons. For more information on serving as a host family, contact Graham at (217) 357-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Community Development Committee, the choir's visit to Carthage is being sponsored by Carl Sandburg College, the Kiwanis Club of Carthage and WCAZ Radio.
WHAT: The Young Polyphonic Choir performance.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7.
WHERE: Carl Sandburg College Auditorium, 1160 Buchanan, Carthage.
COST: $10 A family, $5 for adults ages 18 and up, $3 for students ages 12-17, free for children under 12. Group rates also available.
TICKETS: Available in advance from Carl Sandburg College Carthage Branch or at the door.