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Chorale’s holiday concert marks Evergreen anniversary

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By Sara Miller

2009 has been filled with celebrations of Evergreen’s sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. The Evergreen Chorale’s holiday concert, 150 Years of Holiday Music in Evergreen, is a fitting way to wrap up a year of merriment in honor of our historic mountain community.

“We wanted to create a program packed with pieces that have been performed in Evergreen throughout its 150-year history,” said Laurie Romberg, the Chorale’s publicity manager.

The program is a mix of old and new that not only harkens to times gone by in the mountains but also presents audiences with some fresh sacred music that highlights the vocal talents of the 80-member chorus.

The performance will begin with John Rutter’s sacred piece for chorus and orchestra, “Magnificat.” The text of the piece is the canticle of Mary, mother of Jesus, which has been a central part of the observance of the Advent season in Christian churches since early times. Rutter, a contemporary British composer, puts his own spin on the traditional Latin by interpolating a 15th-century anonymous English poem, “Of a Rose, A Lovely Rose,” as the second movement. The blossoming rose becomes a symbol of the newborn Christ.

According to Mike Weiker, the Chorale’s music director, the “Magnificat” has rapidly become a favorite of the Chorale.

“The piece is challenging for us as singers and exposes the audiences to unique tempos and a 20th-century interpretation of sacred choral music,” Romberg says.

The last movement of “Magnificat” features Linn Phelps Casados singing the traditional “Santa Maria.” Casados, the daughter of one of the Chorale’s founding members, Dick Phelps, is one of many second- and third-generation families that have performed with the Chorale.

“We have many Chorale members whose children and grandchildren go on to perform in the group. These long-term relationships are definitely a testament to the longevity of the Chorale as a much-loved Evergreen institution. It’s only fitting when we’re celebrating the history of the town that we focus on the rich history of the Chorale as well,” said Maggie Glass, the Chorale’s new executive director.

Casados, along with Leah Hamilton, Mike Weiker’s daughter, will conduct pieces in the second half of the program. This portion of the program will be packed with holiday favorites. Audiences will recognize “Hark, The Angels Sing on High,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “What Child is This?” to name a few.

“Silent Night,” a convention in holiday programs, takes on a special meaning this year for the Chorale.

“ ‘Silent Night’ is particularly meaningful this year. Not only was the song translated into English 150 years ago, but we’re performing a version of ‘Silent Night’ that was arranged by Doris Bohling,” says Romberg. Bohling was a beloved longtime accompanist of the Chorale.

In keeping with the theme of honoring Evergreen history, Glass has rounded up a selection of local refreshment for the performances.

“All of the snacks and beverages are from Colorado. We have sweet and salty snacks from Mountain Man Fruit & Nut and several Colorado wines and beers for our patrons to enjoy.”

While these snacks will be sustenance for the stomach, the music of the Chorale is sustenance for the soul. The holiday concert will not only honor the history of our one-of-a-kind mountain town but will help us celebrate the next 150 years to come.

150 Years of Holiday Music in Evergreen

Presented by the Evergreen Chorale Dec. 18-20. Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m., Sunday shows at 2 p.m.

At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive in Evergreen

Tickets: adults, $19; seniors (65-plus) and students, $17; children (11 and under), $10. To purchase tickets, call 303-674-4002 or visit www.evergreenchorale.org.