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Liner Notes

Alpine Chorale shows singers’ ‘best selves’

Arvada-based chorale always searching for new voices


The last time I was part of a choir was when I was a sophomore in high school, and I performed with St. Joan of Arc’s youth choir.

I sang for three or four months, and it was fine. But when I quit to work a summer job, it didn’t exactly break any hearts.

Almost all of us have had some choir experience at some point or another in our lives. It might’ve just been in music class in elementary, singing with friends in high school, or like me, in Sundays at church, but we’ve all been there.

But for the more than 70 members of The Alpine Chorale, performing isn’t just a hobby — it’s a way of life.

“I’ve been with the Chorale since it started 20 years ago,” said Christa Geyer, executive director of the group. “It’s so rewarding and exciting to be a part of such a dedicated group of singers and performers.”

The Chorale is based in Arvada, but draws people from Lakewood, Westminster, Wheat Ridge, Thornton, Centennial, Denver, Golden, Northglenn and more.

“We have a couple seniors in high school who are members, and a couple seniors in their 80s, too,” Geyer said. “Every age group adds something different to the music we’re performing.”

A cappella has been en vogue for the past few years, with movies like “Pitch Perfect,” inspiring TV competitions, and groups like Penatonix becoming popular.

But choral history stretches back to Medieval times, and Alpine taps into that rich legacy.

The Chorale’s musical choices run the gamut from classical and Celtic to Broadway and pop. Under the musical direction of Dr. David Farwig, the group has been looking at doing more contemporary classical pieces.

“We like to partner with other community groups for our big orchestral pieces,” Farwig explained. “We’re always looking to keep developing and exploring new music that will not only bring delight to our audiences, but to our performers as well.”

The Alpine Chorale performs three times a year — once in April, June and a holiday concert in December. This year’s holiday performance will feature the full Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah,” which will be an exciting challenge for the performers, Farwig added.

To mark the Chorale’s 20th anniversary, Farwig has something a little special planned for his singers — a trip to Sydney, Australia, to perform at the Sydney Opera House. Alpine is one of six choral ensembles in the U.S. to be invited to perform a world-premiere piece under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson, an American choral conductor, composer, and arranger.

The trip will be a rare opportunity for members like Alan Mueller, who have been singing in one form or another since the third grade.

“I’ve had 40 years of vocalizing, and grew up listening to my dad’s barbershop rehearsals in the basement,” he remembered. “So many of our members are so excited for the trip. Nearly all of us have signed up to go perform down under.”

This is Farwig’s second season as musical director, and he has high hopes for where the Alpine Choral can go from here. And they’re looking to add more members.

“We’re always looking for people with a musical background, especially men, because we could use some bass and tenors,” he said. “We’re looking for people who are really good socially, and working together as a team.”

After talking to Farwig and Mueller, I get the sense that it’s the social aspect that makes groups like the Alpine Chorale so important to its members. As an audience member, it can be profoundly moving when done right.

“When a community comes together and lets the music lead, it’s a really joyful experience,” Farwig said. “When we sing, we’re our best selves, because we give up our egos to perform as a group.”

Clarke Reader’s column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he encourages you to visit www.alpinechoral.org to learn more. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share why you like choral performances at creader@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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