MCHS choirs team up with Steamboat Springs Orchestra |

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MCHS choirs team up with Steamboat Springs Orchestra

Moffat County High School Jazz Choir members Kat Thompson, from right, Kyra McClellan and Austin Lee rehearse for tonight’s concert with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra. The concert will start at 7 p.m. in the MCHS auditorium.

Moffat County High School choir director, Dan Mullens, prepares members of his jazz choir for a concert with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra. This is the first time the school choir and the Steamboat Springs Orchestra have combined efforts for a holiday-themed concert.
Shawn McHugh
Julia Foster keys the tunes that the Moffat County High School Jazz Choir that will be sung during tonight's concert with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra. Foster has been the choir accompanist for the department for ten years.

The voices of the Moffat County High School Jazz choir rang clear through the choir room Thursday afternoon, giving each phrase and each vowel a holiday ring.

But, when the choir performs its medley of Christmas carols tonight, their voices won't be preserved on a CD, or sold on iTunes.

Those who want to hear the pristine vocals of local high school students, backed by a professional 50-piece symphony orchestra, need to travel out into the cold to the Moffat County High School Auditorium for a taste of live music.

Choir director Dan Mullens said there is still nothing like a live performance.

"The thing is, in this day and age, live performance has kind of lost its nature," he said. "We've become so dependent on electronically produced music and entertainment. And it is more convenient. But a CD, every time you play it is going to be the same."

For the first time tonight, the MCHS Jazz and Chamber choirs will have the opportunity to perform with a professional symphony orchestra to a live audience.

At 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, the Steamboat Springs Orchestra will enlist the help of the high school students in their holiday concert, to sing classic Christmas carols and lead an audience sing-a-long.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students for the holiday-themed concert, which will last about an hour and a half.

"We were actually asked to do it," Mullens said of the students' involvement. "My first thought was definitely. I know the Steamboat Springs Orchestra is a real high quality ensemble. I think the kids are excited about a chance to perform with them."

Sally Williams, the orchestra manager, said the trip to Craig was part of an outreach program to include Craig and the community in arts and music culture of Northwest Colorado.

"We wanted to reach out and involve the community more," she said. "And, it highlights the choirs and gives them the chance to sing with an orchestra."

Although it is a new experience for the students, performing with the caliber of musicians that make up the orchestra could be an important learning experience, Mullens said.

"It'll be a really neat experience for them, working with another director," he said.

Ernest Richardson, the orchestra's music director was a violinist who performed around the world. He has conducted symphonies across the country, and has long been involved with music education, conservatories and all-state orchestras.

Senior Jesse Montoya said he was looking forward to the experience of working with Richardson and the orchestra because it was something new and different.

"We've never done anything like this before," he said. "I think it will sound awesome. Majestic. I think people will really get into the spirit."

Mullens said he has been telling his choirs all year to be adaptable, and this experience should test that skill.

"I think above all, this experience teaches them above all to be flexible," he said.

As for members of the audience, Mullens said they'd be fortunate to see a group of professional musicians they'd normally have to travel out of town to see.

Williams said the show would be enjoyable for anyone in the community, even those unfamiliar with classical music.

"The first half is all Mozart," she said. "That lasts about a half hour. But, then it's all holiday music. And the best part is the sing-a-long at the end. It's just a ball."