What the world needs now is music and more music.
On Sunday afternoon, “Heartstrings,” the newest iteration from the innovative Durango Chamber Singers, will take place. At 3 p.m. in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, conductor Elizabeth Crawford, her ensemble and guests will deliver yet another colorful recital of chamber works mixing genres from classical music, folk songs and jazz.
The relatively new ensemble is already known for crisp and colorful programming. The singers made their debut last fall, Oct. 30, and this anniversary offering includes Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes with piano four-hands accompaniment. Linda Mack Berven and Christi Livingston will share a piano bench as they roll out the Romantic waltz rhythms which underpin this choral masterpiece.
In addition to the Brahms, works by Holst, Mozart, Purcell and a relatively new sequence of musical love poems set for small chorus and string quartet by Eric Whitacre will be performed. Violinists Lauren Avery Heuser and Catherine Pope, violist John Pope, and cellist Karen Johnson will accompany Whitacre’s “Five Hebrew Love Songs.” Later in the program, violinist Lauren Avery Heuser will accompany the singers in the Gaelic folk tune “Shule Aroon.” Tenor soloist Andreas Tischhauser will sing another folk song, “She Moved Through the Fair” with the ensemble.
The Chamber Singers will present the Cornish folk song “I Love My Love,” arranged by Gustav Holst, Lauridsen’s “Drait-on” and a little something from Mozart’s first attempt at opera at the ripe old age of 12.
Jazz artist Jaret Wright will improvise with the chorus and soloists in a new arrangement of “What the World Needs Now.”
“Our theme is heartstrings,” Crawford said in an interview. “We’re celebrating new love and passion – there’s even a tango. And we’ll mourn love’s loss, and there will be a call for us to love one another.”
A versatile musician who sings, plays guitar, mandolin and flute, Crawford has been singing since she was 3 years old.
“I’ve studied and performed vocal and instrumental music all my life,” she said.
Modest by nature, Crawford admitted that she’s sung with choruses all over the world, “even in Barbara Streisand’s millennium tour choir directed by Marvin Hamlisch.”
Crawford has two advanced degrees in finance and specialized in investment “to make money,” she said. With her husband, Larry, she has lived and worked overseas a good deal. Now they are back in the States, having moved to Durango in 2002. “We saw our way through the smoke and flames of the fires that year.”
Currently, Crawford sings in the Durango Women’s Choir, plays in the Southwest Civic Winds, where she is also a board member, is one of the founders of the Vivace Mandolin Ensemble, and is filling in as director of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Choir while Alane Brown is on temporary leave.
“Over the years, I’ve sung in many groups, but I’ve wanted to direct an ensemble of chamber singers. I’ve missed the process,” she said.
After the concert, a glass of rosé awaits the adults at a reception in the parish hall adjacent to the sanctuary.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.