Summit Choral Society presents summer concerts and hosts breakfast
If you go
What: Summit Choral Society summer concerts
When and where: 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, at the Ten Mile Room in Breckenridge and Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Cost: Free; seating is first come, first served
More information: summitchoralsociety.wordpress.com
What: All-you-can-eat fundraising breakfast for Summit Choral Society
When: 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Aug. 16
Where: Elks Lodge, 1321 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Cost: $10 in advance or $12 at the door
More information: Tickets are available from Choral Society members or by calling (970) 406-8960.
Patrick Tully joined the Summit Choral Society about two years ago, ending a choir hiatus that stretched back to his school days. He joked to fellow choral members that he only had to look sharp, put on a tux and sing off key. But then the singers began rehearsing British composer and conductor John Rutter’s “Requiem.”
“It’s a song for the dead,” Tully said. “And I joined the choir, and we started to practice this ‘Requiem,’ and I found out my mother was terminally ill.”
Tully’s mother had colon cancer, which had spread to her liver, and while she was in hospice care, he began studying the intricacies of Rutter’s composition.
“It starts in a dark place, and then it goes into a descent and then there’s an elevation in the middle section of it,” he said of the piece. “It continues to rise to a point that, think about light through music, which is the climax in the fifth movement in this piece.”
“Requiem” had a certain authenticity for Tully, a complexity that went beyond simple exuberance or melancholy to embrace a wider range of emotions, and the work had a meaningful impact on the singer as he practiced it alongside the Choral Society.
“I was learning this profound song, in Latin and English, about sending a person into the light, and it couldn’t have been better,” he said. “It was really healing, an emotional feeling to be mourning and making music at the same time. I dedicated it to my mom.”
Back in New York
The Choral Society learned Rutter’s work in preparation for a return trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City this past spring to perform under the tutelage of the composer himself. This time around, Summit director Jill Schroeder-Dorn was invited to conduct one of the rehearsals for Rutter.
“It was exciting,” she said. “I had 200 singers from all over the country, and they all had that sort of excited glow getting ready to sing at Carnegie Hall. It was an honor to be chosen to actually get to direct for the whole group.”
“She did an outstanding job,” said Joni Thieme-Weinberg, one of the Summit singers. “I even heard singers from elsewhere comment that perhaps they should move to Colorado to sing under her direction.”
Because “Requiem” was Rutter’s original work, his own composition, it was interesting to be able to have him rehearse the choirs and work on the piece with his perspective, Schroeder-Dorn said.
“He told a lot of stories in rehearsal about the process for writing the piece, and it’s just fascinating to get a behind the scenes look at the work,” she said.
Of course, performing in Carnegie Hall is no small matter, either.
“To be on the same stage that Judy Garland sang on, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles — that was awesome,” Tully said. “To perform it with five other choirs from around the country, great singers, about 200 people in Carnegie Hall, with the first floor filled and second tier filled, it was awesome. It was hair-raisingly exciting.”
Back in Summit
The Summit Choral Society will present two free summer concerts on Monday, Aug. 17, at the Ten Mile Room in Breckenridge and on Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the Silverthorne Pavilion, both at 7 p.m. The music consists of Broadway show tunes and other light music, representing a bit of an emotional departure from the more somber “Requiem.”
“It’s totally on the other side of the spectrum. This song by Frank Sinatra, ‘Come Fly With Me,’” Tully said, singing a few lines from the tune. “There’s ‘The Lion King,’ which talks about the circle of life but it’s so fun. We do ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ which talks about aging and family conflict and togetherness. It’s a real wide range.”
Schroeder-Dorn said she tried to choose songs for the concert that were a mix of classic, old school melodies and newer Broadway fare.
“‘The Lion King’ is much newer to Broadway, and ‘Fiddler’ has that classic feel,” she said. “The first half of the concert does have that more classic feel. We’re also doing a Sinatra medley. Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 this year, so that felt like a meaningful anniversary. We’re also doing a doo-wop piece for the men, so that’s a little more of a throwback, as well.
“And then the second half, we’re doing the more modern pieces, ‘Lion King,’ an arrangement of ‘Brave,’ by Sara Bareilles — that’s probably the newest hit that we’re doing.”
Tully said he recently read that good health is associated with singing together with other people because it involves breath, memory, rhythm and community.
“And that’s what our group is about,” he said. “Anybody can sing, and all are welcome.”
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