Review: Concert offers diverse program

From classical mass to soulful solo, choral show highlights talent

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— A choral concert Wednesday night welcomed the first Routt County Mass Choir to the Steamboat Springs High School stage.

With 54 singers from the Yampa Valley Singers, the Steamboat Springs High School choir and the Steamboat Chamber Singers — formerly the Mountain Madrigal Singers — the choir joined nine musicians from the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra to perform a powerful rendition of Franz Schubert’s Mass in G, pushing a nicely balanced volume of sound from the stage.

Featuring soloists Keri Rusthoi, David Henderson and Elliott Ross-Bryant, the performance moved through Schubert’s five-movement impression of a religious mass, embracing the composer’s big, energetic starts along with exultant choruses.

About 65 musicians joined forces for the mass, creating one of the larger local ensembles Routt County has seen in the past few years. In the days leading up to the concert, choral director and concert organizer Marie Carmichael said the mass choir might not be a yearly project but could be an ongoing one.

Before Schubert’s Mass in G, the Steamboat Chamber Singers offered sacred-sounding songs — one by Mozart, one by modern composer Ola Gjeilo — playing to the choir’s strengths and years of experience in early vocal music. After the mass, the group sang two floating, contemporary pieces and then closed the set with the everyman song “Walkin’ Down that Glory Road.”

Offering an interlude before the gospel-themed end to the concert, the Steamboat Springs High School choir, directed by Anna Jones, performed a nicely harmonized arrangement of the Billy Joel ballad “And So it Goes,” which relies on a folk melody and wonderfully downtrodden lyrics.

The highlight of Wednes­day’s concert was a solo vocal performance by Bay Area-based guest artist Carmen Marie Coleman, who introduced Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar” with a wish to find herself “a Steamboat man.” Effortlessly expounding on the loose melody and lyrics, Coleman delivered the song with uncompromising power.

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