The snow is melting and the days are getting warm.
That means spring is coming to Park City. It also means the Park City Singers, the area's non-audition choir, is getting ready to perform, said director Debra Cook.
"We usually do two performances a year, one in winter and the other in the spring," Cook told The Park Record. "The spring shows are usually the smaller ones because those who came to stay during the winter have gone to their various second homes or destinations."
That doesn't mean the material that will be performed is inferior, and to prove it, this year, the singers will perform works by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter at St. Mary's Catholic Church on May 17, and at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on May 19.
"The concerts are all about these great American songwriters," Cook said. "We will feature music by only those composers, and we'll sing everything from 'Porgy and Bess' to 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'I Got Rhythm,' and perform a whole panorama of other songs in a medley."
Medleys will be the mainstay of the evenings, she said.
"The works by Berlin will include a medley of his musical-theatre pieces, and two famous patriotic works, 'God Bless America' and 'Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor,'" Cook explained. "And when we honor Cole Porter, we'll do something that we haven't done before. We will sing three medleys of his pieces that have been categorized in different themes."
Those themes are "Anything Goes," "True Love" and "This Moment On."
"These all are fun and fast-paced arrangements and I think the audiences will enjoy the performances, because they will get little snippets of the composers' most famous melodies," Cook said. "We'll also have a few soloists doing some individual songs."
Cook chose the medley format because these three composers had so many recognizable songs in their catalogs.
"There wasn't really any way we could represent them individually in one night without putting things together," she said.
However, finding good medleys was a challenge.
"Just because of what's been published, it was difficult to find ones that represented the composers well, but didn't feature the same songs," Cook said. "So, there was a bit of deduction that went on while looking for good arrangements.
"All the pieces that we will be singing are beautifully done," she said. "They are difficult. They have very rich harmonies and they have intricate rhythms."
The rhythms are indicative of the early part of the 20th century when these men lived, Cook said.
"There were a lot of swing, blue and jazz influences that were going into musical theatre during their careers," she said.
That is one reason why these composers are important anchors in the tapestry of American popular music.
"They codified what it meant to compose music that was specifically American," she said. "Cole Porter moved his music into the 1940s and into World War II, which contributed to the nation's identity at the time.
"In terms of the rhythmic structure, even when it comes to contemporary music today, you can see how Berlin took the folk music and turned it into something that was fun and easy to march to, before turning it into something that was fun to dance to."
Gershwin, on the other hand, took what Berlin did one step further.
"He melded the element of jazz that was going on at the time, because he was tuned to the African-American community that was involved in the development of American music," Cook said.
While all of these musical pioneers' works sound great and are fun to dance to, they are also challenging to perform, she said.
"This program has definitely raised the bar for the singers," Cook said. "As far as I can tell, I don't think they have performed anything as rhythmically difficult to do. We have to perform it so it doesn't sound difficult to the audience."
For nearly 18 years, the Park City Singers have risen to every musical challenge put before them, and that's what Cook enjoys the most as choir director.
"I love working with a variety of talented singers from the area," she said. "I admire the microcosm of the Park City and Summit County communities that are in the singers.
"These are people who come from various backgrounds, and some of them are accomplished and good at what they do in the private sector," she said. "The same principles that have helped them present our product as a choir, is the same principle that helped them become successful in life."
The Park City Singers, a non-audition community choir, will present a spring concert at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd., on Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m. The performance, directed by Debra Cook, will be repeated May 19 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Dr., at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger. Tickets will be $15 for adults at the door. For more information, visit www.parkcitysingers.com .