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'Messiah' performance commemorates 40th year of Evergreen Chorale

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By Sandy Barnes

Members of the Evergreen Chorale are in the midst of rehearsing for special performances of Handel’s “Messiah” this coming weekend.

The chorale is celebrating its 40th year with this presentation of one the first works the group performed after organizing in 1972.

Chorale member Linda Trenbeath is excited about the upcoming performances of the holiday classic because of the direction in which artistic director Christine Gaudreau is taking with the work.

“She has worked very hard to bring back the original sound with lightness and joyous voices,” said Trenbeath. “It’s a different interpretation with quick tempos.”

Gaudreau also is using Baroque instrumentation for the musical accompaniment that the Jefferson Symphony is providing. Harpsichords, trumpets and violins will blend with a pipe organ during the Dec. 8 performance at Central Presbyterian Church in Denver and at an afternoon performance on Dec. 9 at Rockland Community Church in Golden.

A champagne reception commemorating the chorale’s 40th year will be offered at the Saturday performance in Denver.

While rehearsing the “Messiah” with the chorale, member Laurie Romberg also is enjoying its unique interpretation, as well as singing with experienced performers.

“We have a lot of talented people,” she said.

Guest artists will perform along with chorale members, many of whom are professional musicians.

The churches where the performances are taking place have acoustics that optimize musical tones, which will also add to the dynamics of the presentation.

The Saturday, Dec. 8, performance of the “Messiah” begins at 7 p.m. at Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St. in Denver. The Sunday performance at Rockland Community Church, 17 Mount Vernon Country Club Road in Golden, is at 3:30 p.m.

Tickets, at $21 for adults, $17 for students and seniors, and $14 for children, may be ordered on the Evergreen Chorale website at  HYPERLINK "http://www.evergreenchorale.org" www.evergreenchorale.org.

 

 

SIDEBAR: Evergreen Chorale has rich history

 

Some members of the Evergreen Chorale have been singing together since the group formed in 1972, creating long friendships and associations.

Dick Phelps and his family have been part of the chorale since its inception. His daughter Lindy Phelps, who used to come with her parents to performances as a child, now serves as assistant director for the chorale. Phelps’ late wife, Marcia, was business manager for the organization.

“We’ve seen Center/Stage go from a cold, unheated skeleton to what it is today,” said Phelps. “It’s been fun.”

“It brings so much enrichment to people’s lives. It’s family,” said member Tom Scripps who has been with the chorale since 1984. “There’s something about people who like to sing. They have camaraderie,” he remarked

The chorale got its start in January 1972 when Evergreen residents Ruth and Roy Seeber welcomed a handful of music aficionados to their home near the Brook Forest Inn to discuss forming a performing group, said founding member Rick Vancil.

“Ten days later, 14 singers appeared at the home of Ed and Marybeth Auer in Hiwan Village for the first rehearsal of the Evergreen Chorale, which is now completing its 40th year,” Vancil recalled. “It was a frosty night in Evergreen, but the music and interaction were warm and lively that first night as the magic got under way.”

Having performed with conductors Robert Shaw and Fred Waring, the Seebers were well equipped to launch the chorale, Vancil noted.

The Seebers made a good team, with Roy focusing on directing works ranging from classical to musical theater and Ruth singing and coordinating administrative and public relations functions with growing numbers of volunteers, he said.

 “Focus on family became a hallmark of the Evergreen Chorale, with husbands, wives and children participating in a variety of roles. From the outset, children of members were given preference in stage productions to nurture their interest in singing and to minimize time away from family during extensive rehearsal periods,” said Vancil.

In May 1974, the chorale opened a new venue with the production of “Threepenny Opera.” 

In the early days for the group, its performing calendar was dictated largely by the availability of the Conference Building at the Church of the Transfiguration, which was used by out-of-state student music groups from Memorial Day to Labor Day.      

“There was no plumbing, no heating, no insulation,” Vancil remembers. “The minimal electrical service was far from code; the lighting board looked menacing, building access was treacherous in snowstorms, the roar of construction space heaters was deafening, the San-o-lets were off-putting, sunlight streamed in during matinee blackouts, rain found its way in through numerous cavities. But it became home. Young chorale offspring soon became accustomed to sleeping bags under the lighting booth, and one of those, now grown, just assumed that’s what all little kids did.”

Vance is promoting the establishment of an Evergreen Chorale Alumni Association to provide an opportunity for ongoing interaction among former chorale members and supporters, and is hoping that the chorale’s effort to collect memorabilia will lead to an ongoing system for sharing special memories.  

 

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at  HYPERLINK "mailto:sandy@evergreenco.com" sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.