Thursday, December 8, 2005
This weekend's Columbine Singers concert will be a tribute to the holidays as well as a goodbye to Brian and Christel Houston, the couple who have led the group for eight years.
The Houstons decided during the summer that the chorale was ready for new inspiration and that they were ready for new musical challenges. Instead of resigning then, they decided to lead one last celebratory semester.
¤ Columbine Singers present "Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Holiday"
¤ 7 p.m. Saturday
¤ Steamboat Christian Center, across from the Holiday Inn on U.S. Highway 40
¤ $8 for adults; $5 for seniors and students; $3 for children younger than 12
"We wanted to bring closure to our time with the choir," Christel Houston said.
Knowing this would be their last concert with the Columbine Singers, the Houstons decided to have fun with it -- to take some musical risks.
Brian Houston's passion is jazz. With the help of Randy Kelley on guitar, Rick Phillipp on drums and Tom Hathaway on bass, the Houstons chose a program of holiday standards in a vocal jazz style.
The concert, titled "Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Holiday," will include a version of "Joy to the World" arranged to the music from "The Preacher's Wife."
"The Holly and the Ivy" is arranged with a Samba beat, and there will be a swing version of "Go Tell it on the Mountain."
With her last Columbine Singers concert a day away, Christel Houston looks back at what the group accomplished under her direction.
"The idea of a choir is for a group of voices to come together and communicate one idea. It's not just group singing," she said. "I think they learned that, and not all choirs do. They are a team up there. They take ownership, and that's why I'm not worried about leaving."
Although the Columbine Singers technically is a Colorado Mountain College music class, it also is a community group. The choir was formed in 1983, and there are members who have been with the group since the first day.
Brian Houston sees his time with the Singers as part of the group's musical tradition continuum.
"There were people in this choir long before we even heard of Steamboat Springs," he said.
The Houstons have been together since college, where they met as music majors. They moved to Steamboat in 1992.
If you've attended a local music event since then, the Houstons probably were involved. They are the musical directors for most high school plays. The work with children through Strings in the Mountains, lead music at Christian Heritage School and Euzoa Bible Church and occasionally work with musical productions at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
The family has been nicknamed "the Von Houstons" by people in the music community for their tendency to get involved as a group. The children are musical and usually sing or perform with whatever project their parents are working on. Christel Houston remembers bringing her children to choir rehearsal when they were babies. They would sleep in baby carriers between Brian's piano and the drums, she said.
Stepping away from the Columbine Singers will give them a chance to explore other options or just take some time to breathe and focus of their four children. Their oldest daughter is a senior and is preparing for college.
Beginning Dec. 16, Brian Houston will play a regular Friday night jazz gig at Three Peaks Grill as part of a trio called The Usual Suspects.