Park City Treble Makers looking to warm up the holiday season
All-female a cappella choir schedules concerts around town
Park City Treble Makers
- When: 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11
- Where: Park City Community Church, 4501 N. S.R. 224
- Cost: $12 for adults, $5 for children 12 and younger
- Venmo: treble-maker-1
- Web: parkcitytreblemakers.org
Park City Treble Makers Salon Concert
- When: 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18
- Where: Private home in Willow Creek (address will be provided after ticket purchase)
- Email: email@example.com
A winter chill is in the air, and the Park City Treble Makers are warming up their voices in preparation for their Christmas concert run.
The season opens on Dec. 4 with two performances during the Park City Community Church services and an evening performance at Jeremy Ranch Country Club. The all-female a cappella choir will also perform at Summit Vista senior living center on Dec. 8 and the Park City Senior Center on Dec. 9.
The first public performances will be presented on Dec. 11 at Park City Community Church. It will continue with the Newcomers Club of Greater Park City’s Holiday Brunch on Dec. 14, before rounding up the season with a salon concert on Dec. 18 and at the Hyatt Centric at Canyons Village on Dec. 21.
“That’s our season,” said director Colleen Earnshaw. “We are always busy at this time of the year and there are more that we would like to do.”
The songs the choir has planned this year include a mix of sacred and secular, according to second soprano Renee Mox Hall.
“We have been learning two entirely different bodies of work,” she said.
Some of the sacred pieces include “I Wonder As I Wander,” “The Cradle Hymn,” and “While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks at Night.”
“This version of ‘I Wonder’ is great, because the harmonies are more modern,” Earnshaw said about Ruth Elaine Shram’s arrangement. “It’s haunting.”
Earnshaw was also drawn to Kim Andre´ Arnesen’s arrangement of “The Cradle Hymn,” which was set to a poem that Isaac Watts wrote in the 18th century.
“I love the melody,” she said. “I love the haunting feel of it. It’s a sweet little lullaby sung to the Christ child, and I thought it was a fantastic piece.”
Hall enjoys singing the piece, because it’s a challenge lyrically.
“When we started working on it, we had a lot of people say the language is so strange, and it’s hard to memorize,” she said. “It’s because the speech patterns were a little different at the time it was written.”
Another song that leans toward the sacred moniker include “Veni Veni Emmanuel,” Earnshaw said.
“This one sounds like we are doing a Gregorian chant, because we break into eight parts,” she said. “In the background, we have the altos and second sopranos singing in an off rhythm, and the sopranos come in and sing the main melody in Latin.
“Veni Veni Emmanuel” is another inspirational and difficult piece that Hall enjoys singing.
“It’s a challenge, and I think it sounds like a challenge,” she said. “When we sing it, people recognize that it’s hard, and that makes them appreciate it more.”
Earnshaw knew the song would test her singers, but she was confident they could do it.
“We have an incredibly talented group of women who know they are expected to do this sort of thing, and they go with it,” she said.
While the sacred works add a reverent spirit to the concerts, the secular songs were selected to add some fun to the season, Earnshaw said.
“The theme this year is ‘Christmas is Coming,’ and that’s the song we’ll start off with,” she said. “This is an old traditional English song that is rambunctious and sung in a round. It will catch you by surprise, and it’s a lot of fun to do.”
Other lively tunes include an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Russian Dance” culled from his seasonal ballet, “The Nutcracker,” and a doo-wop version of “White Christmas,” Earnshaw said.
“The ‘Russian Dance’ is all done with fa la las, and the ‘White Christmas’ is kind of the one you would imagine Bing Crosby singing to himself at home,” she said.
Then there’s the Pentatonix’s version of “Up On the Housetop,” where one of the second altos will add some vocal percussion, Earnshaw said.
“She’ll do some beat-boxing, which is a lot of fun,” she said. “The beats help us older women get in touch with the younger generation.”
Earnshaw has a personal connection to one of the secular songs, “Merry Christmas Darling,” which was a 1978 hit for the Carpenters.
“When my husband and I were dating, I was in California for Christmas and he was in Utah,” she said. “He sent a friend who played the piano and could sing over to my house as a singing telegram of the song. But he actually changed the words to make it more personal. So, after 47 years, it still has a special place in my heart.”
These songs are just a taste of the programs that will also include Audrey Snyder’s arrangement of “Ring Silver Bells,” a new take on the traditional Ukrainian folk song, “Carol of the Bells,” and “The 12 Or So Days of Christmas,” by Paula Foley Tillen.
“The regular ‘12 Days of Christmas’ song drags on and on, so this one will surprise people,” Hall said. “They will be preparing themselves for another five minutes of repetition when we’ll suddenly amp up with changes in keys and lyrics. It’s like shorthand singing.”
Although some of the pieces in the programs are difficult, the Park City Treble Makers memorized every note and nuance, Hall said.
“We don’t get to fall back to seeing notes or lyrics,” she said. “I think that really makes a difference, because it helps us pay attention to each other and our director as opposed to staring at our music.”
“When you don’t have a song memorized, you can forget to shape it,” she said. “You forget to create what the story is telling or what the message of the song is.”
Paying attention to the memorized lyrics and arrangements adds another layer to the live performances, Hall said.
“A feeling spreads through the group, because the concert becomes a real and shared experience between the performers and those who are listening,” she said. “Live performance to me engages souls, and that’s something I can’t quite feel when I’m watching TV or film.”
With the wrap-up of the 2023 Sundance and Slamdance film festivals, it’s up to Park City Film to carry the art-house torch with its weekend screenings.
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