Immortal Fire: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, April 22, 3 p.m., Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 631 N. Tejon St., donations requested, cvae.org.
When Deborah Jenkins Teske founded the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble
, our local chamber music a cappella group, a mentor told her: “Well anybody can start a choir. It’s keeping it going that’s hard.” Twenty-five years later, she says that warning advice has turned out to be incredibly true. But CVAE has only grown, even flourished, while remaining true to its mission, “which was to really focus on this smaller repertoire and still feel like we were growing or expanding or challenging ourselves,” Teske says, “without the pressure of needing to change or turn into something else. ... We are what we are. We’re rooted here.” CVAE now boasts 34 members, compared to its original 14, and a wide variety of personalities and professions that Teske believes enriches the choir as a whole. “We just have such an amazing mix of people,” she says. “We have rocket scientists, and professional singers, and teachers, and they all bring their world of experience in the door with them, and it’s part of what makes us great.”
And CVAE boasts an unusually large number of solo singers. While each of them functions beautifully in an ensemble, they also bring power to a performance when it’s needed, as well as what Teske calls a “range of color” in their voices.
The group has performed at the Green Box Arts Festival and Colorado College’s Summer Music Festival, and collaborated with Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, among others. Next year, they’re looking forward to a collaborative performance with the Colorado Ballet Society. These collaborations not only keep CVAE involved and active in the greater community, but also help them develop their own sound, constantly challenging themselves.
The April 22 performance, in celebration of CVAE’s 25th anniversary, builds on that legacy of collaboration and personal challenge with a program of a few old favorites and some new-to-the-ensemble pieces. Teske calls the program’s main piece, Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia
, “a 12-minute masterpiece,” an “amazing poem that is itself about artistic inspiration, and where it comes from.” In addition to that, the group will perform English and Latvian folk songs, lighthearted Italian and French Renaissance madrigals, and some heavier selections to balance out the show. They’ll be singing in six languages, covering six centuries and three continents.
Stick around after the show for a reception to congratulate the ensemble on 25 successful years, and many more to come.