What a way to celebrate your golden anniversary.
Durango Choral Society has spent its 50th year like a lot of arts organizations – getting creative in the face of almost a year’s worth of shutdowns, delays and cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now it’s ready to kick off its spring season, which will open March 5 with its “Bright & Beautiful” online concert.
The show will feature a combination of videos of live performances from the past, some new virtual material and prerecorded material of Linda Mack Berven, director/conductor of DCS, doing a preconcert talk and an introduction.
For Mack Berven, the choice of music for “Bright & Beautiful” reflects the theme of the show “because all the music is bright and beautiful.” Expect traditional songs such as “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Ain’a That Good News!” And the most fun thing, she said, is 44 recordings submitted by individual singers for a virtual piece called, “How Can I Keep from Singing?’”
“We have a really interesting cross-over piece that sounds like an old-time gospel song but it’s overlaid with what you would only be able to call liturgical chant. It’s very interesting; it’s called ‘Gospel Adoramus,’” Mack Berven said. “It’s interesting, I mean, sometimes I’m not sure: Am I listening to a rousing, rhythmic gospel piece or am I listening to a hymn?”
Looking ahead, the Choral Society has two more shows ready for April and May. In April, “Around the World with the Durango Choral Society” will feature footage from the group’s travels to Hawaii, Carnegie Hall and overseas.
“We’ve put together footage from rehearsals and concerts in all of these beautiful venues all over the world,” Mack Berven said. “The concert includes a lot of never having been seen video footage of all these different countries and different interesting experiences we’ve had, plus I’ve also included some international music that our kids and women have recorded – they performed it here, but it’s music in other languages or from other countries, including some really interesting stuff from West Africa, Australia, Greece – so that’s truly going to be a around the world offering.”
May’s show will be the Choral Society’s annual Cabaret, which will feature soloists performing everything from opera to Broadway, along with the choirs.
Tickets for “Bright & Beautiful” will be available online today (Feb. 26), and DCS is sensitive to many people’s financial situations over the last year, Mack Berven said.
“We understand that some people are in dire financial straits, and we want everybody to be able to hear our concerts,” she said. “So we have a sliding scale that starts at $5 and people can pay what they can afford. Each one of these concerts, we’re going to release them on the dates that are on the programs, but we’re going to leave them up for two weeks. So people pay one time whatever they can afford – and we have categories of pay, they can pay as little as $5 or as much as they want. For that price, that will include their whole household, and they can watch it as many times as they want, or start and stop.”
And, she said, the two-week viewing window gives audiences plenty of time to watch the show: “These concerts have a lot of repertoire, so I’ve suggested – just take a break; go have a glass of wine or eat some popcorn and watch the rest of it tomorrow or whatever.”
The thing to remember about any golden anniversary is that there must be a lot of love and commitment that make that milestone even possible, which, Mack Berven said, is the case with the people who make up DCS.
“I think the glue is probably the love and care that all these people have for this organization. We have kept in touch via email and Zoom sessions. I routinely send them notes and encouragement and ‘How ya doing?’ And they really care about the organization,” she said. “Not to mention our donors and sponsors and everybody has stepped up to help us financially. And our board – oh my goodness: very hard workers and very committed. We’ve always had, I’ve been very lucky in that the Choral Society has always had a sense of family, if you will, and the family is still there; we’re still hanging on.”