Sing another love song

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— No try-outs, no voice lessons, nor any professional experience was needed for the men and women that make up the Columbine Chorale.

As they belted out their last practice before their final performance,Tuesday, mouths opened wide and beautiful pitches came out of each person.

Women's vocal chords hit some of the highest notes, while the four men, dispersed throughout the rows of women, dropped their voices to a low drone.

The Columbine Chorale Spring 2001 Concert will bring Steamboat an uplifting and spirited evening with "Timeless Love Songs" as their spring theme.

Along with the instrumental talents of Brian Houston on piano, Tom Hathaway on bass, Bobby Howard on drums, Neil Marchman on guitar and Dan Isbell on trumpet, the 34 singers will give the Steamboat Christian Center new life with a rhythm that will make you want to dance, but with a volume pleasing to the ear.

The Columbine Youth Chorale will sing three songs with the "adult" chorale and five on their own, but the children will be interspersed with the adults throughout the performance, said Christel Houston, director of the chorales.

The Youth Chorale contains children from third grade to eighth grade. The first chorale is made up of those in high school to retired people.

"A choir like this works with a 'y'all come attitude,'" Houston said.

Sherry Sullivan, singer in the chorale since 1998 and the publicist, said when a couple of friends convinced her to come to a practice for the Christmas performance, she didn't hesitate.

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world," Sullivan said. "It's a kick. The songs are just so much fun."

Although Sullivan sang in the school choir and at church when she was a child, she didn't think after so many years she would get on stage again.

But when the Christmas performance practices came around, she thought to herself, "How hard can Christmas music be? By my age, I should know them all."

Much to Sullivan's surprise, only one song seemed familiar.

"I only knew that song because I had a record as a little girl," Sullivan said.

Since then the years in the chorale have flown by so quickly that no one seems to know when the Columbine Chorale first began.

Catherine Lykken said when she retired from social services in 1985, she joined the chorale, probably in '86. However, she's not too sure either.

From chorale members at Tuesday night's practice, everyone agreed that the early '80s was the safest bet, but no one ventured on a specific year.

With the choir practicing about 30 yards away, Lykken turned her head, made a semi-circle with her hand over her mouth and whispered, "We're all equal, except some of us are better than others."

Lykken said it has been a therapeutic recreational activity since retirement.

With the influx of experienced and non-experienced singers, the chorale has had to change the performance location.

"We have more music in this town that others only dream of," Houston said. "People have come to this concert in this church for 20 years."

"The biggest thing this year is we're changing venues. We got too big. We've outgrown this church," Sullivan said.

While the number of chorale members increases with the years, so does the variety of music selected for each performance.

For the Christmas concert last year, Sullivan wondered why the unfamiliar songs had not been given radio time at all.

"How did this song get on the radio, and this one didn't," Sullivan said of the song '"Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer," vs. the more poetic and traditional Christmas songs. "She always finds surprises. She always finds some kind of arrangement that's different."

As a member of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Columbine Chorale also is offered as a class at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.

Houston said the college took it over in order to help the organization continue to grow.

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