AFI commissioned local composer Don Macdonald (www.donmacdonaldmusic.ca) to compose two major new vocal works. In 2006, Macdonald was contracted to create a new choral work, Echoes of the Mountains, scored for soprano soloist, adult and youth chorus and orchestra. AFI collaborated with four local choral ensembles (the Nelson Choral Society, Corazon, Cottonwood Singers, and Shenango) premiered this work on the occasion of the official opening of the Nelson and District Community Complex in the summer of 2007.
In 2008 The Board of Directors of the Amy Ferguson Institute began discussing the possibility of commissioning Macdonald to also compose an opera. After months of anxious weighing of the financial risks, the Board made the bold decision to commit to raising at least $70,000 to enable Macdonald and playwright, Nicola Harwood to collaborate in the creation of a full-length opera, KHAOS. Three years (and almost $120,000) later KHAOS had been completed, workshopped, cast and rehearsed and AFI’s production company, Nelson Community Opera, in 2012 staged the work’s world premiere production at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre to sold-out houses, wild standing ovations and rave critical reviews.
Later in 2012, the Nelson production was toured to theatres in Cranbrook, Grand Forks, Trail, and Creston. In 2013 Opera America’s New York-based adjudication panel selected KHAOS as one of only four operas invited to be showcased at their New Works Sampler showcase at OA’s annual Opera Conference in Vancouver.