Steamboat Springs Conductor Robert Ritschel and a dedicated group of singers have organized a chorale group that formerly performed only every other year into the year-round Yampa Valley Chorale Society.
The Chorale Society is planning its inaugural spring concert this weekend with hopes to follow that up with a fall program.
Before Ritschel came along, most the people singing in the Chorale Society today sang a rendition of "The Messiah" during the holidays. That program was performed every other year and was one of the only opportunities for those who like more classical chorale music to sing.
"That all changed when Robert showed up on our doorstep," singer Nancy Kramer said.
Ritschel became the conductor for the program last year after conducting similar chorale societies out of the state. Ritschel asked the members if there would be enough support to sing all year, performing a variety of pieces fit for a chorale society. He received positive feedback and went ahead with the plan.
The result was more than 50 people from all parts of the valley committed to making one practice a week for several months to put on the group's first spring concert.
Ritschel said his role was just to organize. It's the dedication of the singers that made it possible to form the group. They have been practicing since February, which is a big commitment.
"The chorus is just that. The chorus was created because they love to sing and they are committed," Ritschel said.
Ritschel also is a driving force in pushing to the singers toward a more diverse selection of music.
"Robert is inclined to remind us that there is a large body of music out there to choose from," Kramer said.
That opens up the opportunity for singers in the area to explore the depth of chorale music on a different level in the community.
"It opens a new dimension for chorale singers that we have never had before," Alice Lund said.
Ritschel's choice of music also "stretches the ability of many of the singers," she added.
Lund conducts the St. Paul Choir at St. Paul Episcopal Church. Many people from her choir sing in the Yampa Valley Chorale Society.
"I think there are many people who have moved here from different places that have some singing experience," Lund said.
Ritschel hopes the group fills a need in the community for this kind of performance art.
After Saturday's concert, Ritschel said he would begin to prepare for a Christmas program. It probably won't be "The Messiah," he said.
"There's a lot of other Christmas music out there," he said.