Steamboat Chamber Singers to present new concert |

Steamboat Chamber Singers to present new concert

Mary Beth Norris plays a penny whistle while rehearsing with the Steamboat Chamber Singers earlier this week. The group's "Ireland's Call" concert, set for Friday and Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, will feature several guest performers.
John F. Russell

If You Go...

What: Steamboat Chamber Singers “Ireland’s Call”

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Ninth & Oak streets

Tickets: $20 and may be purchased from any of the singers or at All That

— As the penny whistle plays the opening notes of the Irish folk tune, “Dúlamán,” there’s a spark that ignites within each of the singers on stage.

For them, the upbeat tempos and jovial tunes create an atmosphere that inspires smiles, hand-clapping and at times, an Irish jig or two.

If You Go…

What: Steamboat Chamber Singers “Ireland’s Call”

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Ninth & Oak streets

Tickets: $20 and may be purchased from any of the singers or at All That

Inspired by traditional folk tunes that retell Irish myths, legends and folktales, the Steamboat Chamber Singers will present their spring concert, “Ireland’s Call,” at 7 p.m. today and Saturday at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at Ninth and Oak streets.

“You get transported to Ireland the minute you start listening to it,” said local actor Sabrina Stewart, at a Steamboat Chamber Singers rehearsal earlier this week. “I felt like I was on a country lane with green grass and rolling hills going by me. This music has such a strong history, and I think people will be able to connect to the music.”

Not only will the concert feature tunes sung in both Gaelic and English — “She Moved Through the Faire” and “Siuil a Ruin,” for example — it will also incorporate guest performances by the Celtic Friends Band, which includes Bonnie Murray, Callie Anderson, Elizabeth Danielson, John Fisher and Mary Beth Norris. Surprise performances by local actors Sabrina Stewart and Sharon Pinney-Gamradt will also be seen during the concert.

“Concentrating on our forward sounds with the folk emphasis, it makes us sound as if we all just arrived at the pub, and everybody is just about to join in the fray,” said Christel Houston, music director for the select choral ensemble. “We just needed something as a group that would be really fun for everyone, but also have those moments of beauty that show their choral expertise, as well.”

An Irish-themed concert is a bit of a departure for the group, Houston said, but because Celtic music requires the singers to incorporate lighter, folksy tempos, it also offers a chance for singers to have some fun with something new.

“It gives us an opportunity to show a different side of the choir,” said Joseph Becker, one of the featured choir singers. “To get the brogue (Irish accent) and blend that with the colorful sound of the instruments, we are singing much brighter and a bit differently than we usually do.”

Though, in the past, the group has sung classical compositions from composers such as Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert and George Frideric Handel, Houston said this has proven one of the most challenging concerts yet.

“As fun as Irish music sounds, there are beats and phrases thrown in, and the harmonies are not always just your average harmonies,” she said. “Plus, we learned Gaelic. We’ve sung in Latin, German and all kinds of different languages, but Gaelic is the hardest one we’ve learned.”

From the variety of local musicians who will accompany the singers to the surprise acts throughout the performance, Houston said audience members should expect the unexpected.

“Audiences haven’t hard us do anything like this before,” she said. “I hope people come to the concert thinking, ‘I wonder what they are going to do this time.’”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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