Now in its 25th year, Summit County's Summit Choral Society will play its Spring Concert on two nights next week, Monday and Thursday. The shows are free to the public and begin at 7 p.m.
Monday night's singing performance will take place at the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon; Thursday night's performance is at the Christ Lutheran Church at Farmer's Korner.
The Summit Choral Society is a traditional mixed (meaning men and women) four-part choral group featuring soprano, alto, tenor and bass singing parts. The group has been performing for nearly 30 years in Summit County and around the country. "Our mission is to provide quality vocal music programs for locals and visitors alike," said the group's board president Sandy Kuschnerus. "As well as to provide continuing music education for our members."
The group plays three concert series a year: one in the spring; one in the summer, around mid-August; and one at the holidays, usually in early December, according to Kuschnerus.
"The concerts are free. But donations are always welcome," said Kuschnerus. "We give a scholarship every year to a local high school music student. We like to perpetuate vocal music because we all enjoy it so much. They can use the money for accompaniment, for music, dues, or if they are studying music in school they can certainly use it for school. It's a $500 scholarship."
This year's scholarship recipient is Summit High School senior Katarina Jackman. She will perform with the Summit Choral Society at both spring concert performances. Jackman will sing "Think of Me," from the "Phantom of the Opera."
"We will be playing spring selections from the Renaissance period through the 20th century, including various versions of The Mass," said Kuschnerus. Selections will be included from such composers as Mozart and Leonard Bernstein.
The Summit Choral Society is a non-auditioned community member choir, currently numbering between 35 and 40 members. The group pays its director and accompanist, but is otherwise an all-volunteer organization.
The director of the choir is Jill Schroeder, who moved from Oklahoma to Colorado in 2001 to study music at Colorado Christian University. Originally a French horn performance major, Schroeder developed a love for vocal music during her undergraduate years. She has since pursued graduate degrees in vocal performance and choral conducting from University of Denver and University of Northern Colorado. During that time she taught conducting classes, coached opera choruses, was an interim director with the Douglas County Children's Chorus and a conducting intern with St. Martin's Chamber Choir. Schroeder joined the Summit Choral Society in the summer of 2011.
"We are usually accompanied by piano. Sometimes we have string or wind instruments playing with us and sometimes we sing a cappella," said Kuschnerus. Caroline Hesford-Foley, who has been with the society since 2006, provides that accompaniment. Hesford-Foley started her music career at a young age, playing three instruments by the age of 10. At 14 she performed in Carnegie Hall with the South Florida Youth Symphony. From 1994-1999 she served as the head music teacher at the Associated Studies of Music in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She moved to Summit County and began accompanying ensembles at Summit High School in 2000 and continues to be a musical influence in the community through her work with churches and private students.
In some songs, the choir will perform versions of The Mass, "singing the same words, but to a different tune," according to Kuschnerus. The choir will also perform Old English Madrigal pieces. "The Madrigal portion will be lighter and more up beat. In one piece the words are all written by Shakespeare taken from three of his plays - very fanciful and fun. Then we end the concert with 'I Want to be Happy' and 'Can't Help Falling in Love' made famous be Elvis of course. These two pieces will really put the audience in the mood for spring!"
"I plan on walking through the history of masses and madrigals by briefly describing changes in style," said Schroeder, which will make the performance more enjoyable with some contextual information.