By Ann Butler
There are some traditions that are key to making the holidays bright, and the Durango Choral Society’s “A Traditional Family Christmas” is one of them for me.
It’s a chance to hear from the depth and breadth of singers and musicians in our community, including the Durango Children’s Chorale, Durango Women’s Choir, the Durango Youth Chorus and the Durango Jazz Combo in addition to the adults in the choral society. They played and sang old favorites and introduced new ones.
Many people were double hitters, with DCS members Elizabeth Crawford and Robin Randolph playing flute with the children and the women at various times. Jazz Combo percussionist and assistant Fort Lewis College professor John O’Neal also played double, ‘er, triple, er, multiple duties, chiming in, so to speak on a variety of instruments with different groups. Christi Livingston, who has to be one of the best accompanists in town, showed off some heretofore unknown chops on the xylophone, and DCS member Helen Jauregui joined her in a piano duet on a multi-part complex version of “White Christmas” that lifted the beloved favorite to new heights.
Most everyone would admit that Erin Sinberg’s version of “Santa Baby,” sung to the jolly old soul himself, was a memorable moment, as was the combo’s version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The combo – Jeff Solon on saxophone, Jack Maynes on piano, Ely Rio on bass and O’Neal on drums – made it more like “Jazz Jammin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” with some great riffs from all four musicians.
Kudos go to Durango Choral Society and Durango Women’s Choir Artistic Director Linda Mack Berven and Durango Children’s Chorale and Durango Youth Chorus Artistic Director Amy Barrett for programming a diverse and delightful afternoon of music.
After the concert, the DCS held its annual fundraising Gala coordinated by DCS Board President Jeanne Bandy, with everything for the holidays from gifts to décor. In a nice twist, they moved it over to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, where the concert was held, rather than having concertgoers trek over to the Band Room in Jones Hall. In another nice twist, instead of a silent auction, they priced the item, and all supporters had to do was shop and take their items up to the cashier. “Easy peasy,” as the Brits say.
Talking about fundraising, the Durango Children’s Chorale and Youth Chorus have been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in May 2017, and that means raising travel money.
Barrett starts the season with the DCS’ annual Fall Music Camp, introducing new and innovative techniques to help the children learn the many challenging pieces of music performed throughout the year. Ruth Dwyer, a nationally known youth clinician who represents Carnegie Hall, conducted a large portion of camp this year. Not only was that a great learning opportunity for the students, it allowed them to show how talented they are, leading to the aforementioned invitation.
The kids have raised money at two local garage sales, a Navajo Taco Dinner, through popcorn sales and by asking for donations from family and friends. At 6 p.m. Feb. 4, they will hold a Sweet Songs, Sweet Treats concert at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, promising to offer energetic and youthful music with a cornucopia of decadent desserts afterward. Tickets are $10/$5 and are available at www.DurangoChoralSociety.org.
In March, the singers will sell Butter Braid Pastries. The group is also seeking local business sponsors for breakfast and lunch meals in New York City. They estimate $250 would cover one meal for the 20 performers who are going.
And of course, anyone can make a donation by visiting the website and clicking on Support Us for a donation link. Choose DCC/DYC New York Trip when asked to designate your donation. There is also a link to the donation site on the top of the Durango Choral Society’s Facebook page.
And before I forget, the Choral Society still has a great deal of music to come in its 2016-2017 season, so check the website for upcoming performances while you’re donating!
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