Park City Treble Makers doing what they do best
The Park City Treble Makers are approaching their fourth Christmas season and music director Shelle Jennings is bursting with enthusiasm.
"What I’m more excited about is the difference in the way this present group is reading and the quickness with which we are able to put repertoire together," Jennings said during a joint interview with second alto Karen Nielsen and first alto Joan Townsend. "Each year the blend of singers has gotten incrementally better, but we got together for our rehearsal in mid-September after our annual retreat in August, [and] I felt we had jumped two or three levels."
Nielsen said that jump has to do with Jennings’ guidance.
"Between Shelle’s good instruction and our more-than-steep learning curve, everything is gelling faster," Nielsen said. "We also have three new members who are really good."
The quality of voices is one of the reasons why the choir continues to entertain and enchant audiences.
"The Park City Treble Makers are an audition choir," Nielsen emphasized. "We have singers who participate in their church choirs, and we also have four members who are part of the Park City Follies every spring and some who are in the Park City Singers. So, everyone wears a bunch of hats, which shows that we have a lot of talent in our group."
"The women in the group have the talent and ability to bring out such amazing sounds," she said. "For me, that’s my life. I have to have music in my life. To be part of this group is priceless."
This season’s performances start with an appearance at the Newcomers of Park City’s annual holiday breakfast on Dec. 9.
"Newcomers was our first gig ever four years ago and they have kind of adopted us," Jennings said. "I really felt that we had arrived when I got a call from them at the latter part of July and they asked if we could do their Christmas concert."
Dec. 9 is also the date when the Treble Makers will perform at the Park City Ice Arena for its annual Park City holiday event, Jennings said.
"We’ll perform some traditional Christmas songs in a jazz motif," she explained. "That’s fun and it’s been a real challenge for us."
Other works the group will perform include the classic "O Holy Night" and a fun tune called "12 or So Days of Christmas."
"It’s a put on of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and if you know who Peter Shickele is, it’s that kind of arrangement and great fun," Jennings said.
The Treble Makers’ season will continue on Dec. 12, with a performance at the Cottonwood Macy’s in Holladay and then an appearance for the People’s Health Clinic at the Park City Visitor Center on Dec. 16.
"We’re also going to perform for the National Ability Center’s Christmas Party at Deer Valley later that day," Nielsen said. "They asked us to perform at their Christmas party and we had a bit of a scheduling conflict, because of the People’s Health Clinic performance. So, we asked if we could perform an hour later."
One reason why the choir can do two performances in a day is due to the lack of equipment needed for each concert.
"There’s no piano and we don’t need a PA system, unless the people who want us to sing have one for us to use," Nielsen said. "All we need is Shelle’s pitch pipe and we’re good to go."
The group also memorizes every note.
"That’s important to us because it’s nice not to have all of these notebooks and papers, but it also shows how good the singers are," Jennings said.
Another highlight of the choir’s season is its annual performance at the Elk Meadows Assisted Living Community on Dec. 17.
"That just fills our hearts," Jennings said. "It’s their Christmas party and some of the residents will have their families there, and they are so appreciative."
This concert evolved from a one-shot performance in the facility’s lobby a couple of years ago, Nielsen said.
"Now, we perform during its holiday banquet," she said. "Of course, all the music we perform is recognizable and everyone knows the songs, which makes it that much better."
The Treble Makers’ final two concerts will be in Park City. The first will be at the Town Lift Plaza on Dec. 19, followed by Canyons Resort that same weekend
"We performed at Canyons last year and it rained, hard and it was so windy," Jennings said. "We were situated in a shell and we were nearly blown off the stage."
Actually, the singers were in the shell but Jennings, who was leading, was not protected from the elements, Nielsen said.
"She was standing out there leading us and the wind was blowing and half of her face was just saturated," Nielsen said, laughing. "Someone gave her something to cover her head, but only half of her head was protected."
"We gave our word to perform and, by golly, we did it, and we’re going back this year," Jennings said, also laughing. "I don’t care if it’s cold. I just hope to God it doesn’t rain."
With that work ethic and those lively performances, The Park City Treble Makers have brought much joy to Park City, and both the Park City Rotary and the Sunrise Rotary clubs have taken notice.
"We were the beneficiary of a grant from the Sunrise Rotary Club recently and last spring the Park City Rotary bequeathed us with one of their grants," Jennings said. "That is so wonderful because we have to pay for venues when we do our spring concert. So these grants allows us to book venues, without us having to pitch in 50 bucks each."
The grants also allows the choir to purchase music.
"While purchasing music isn’t a deal breaker, it is nice for us to tell our new members that music will be provided," Jennings said. "While we do get paid for some gigs, and not all, these grants are invaluable for us. And we’re happy to continue singing for our city."
For more information about the Park City Treble Makers, visit facebook.com/parkcitytreblemakers .
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The Utah Conservatory is recruiting singers to perform with the Distinguished Concerts International New York in February at Carnegie Hall.