PORT TOWNSEND — The Wild Rose Chorale will present several community music groups for a varied and rousing holiday program in its Wild Rose Chorale & Friends Holiday Concerts today and Sunday.
At the Friends concert, long a December tradition, the Wild Rose Chorale, Port Townsend’s a cappella group, shares billing with young singers and adult instrumentalists for performances at 7 tonight and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, both at First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St.
A $15 donation will be suggested at the door.
Besides the eight-voice choir, which sings without instrumental accompaniment, performers include the Port Townsend Youth Chorus, directed by Leslie Lewis; the Townsend Bay Ringers, a handbell choir directed by Judy Schussler; and the Ladies’ Chamber Orchestra and Benevolent Society, a string ensemble directed by Dahti Blanchard.
“I’ve heard some people say that their holiday season doesn’t begin until our concerts,” said Lewis, also director of the Wild Rose Chorale.
The Wild Rose singers always enjoy the multiple musical textures of the holiday concerts. Lewis said, for example, that the Friends program hasn’t included a string group for perhaps nearly 20 years.
“That will add a very different and welcome flavor,” she said.
All the groups plan their own sets of music, but some will join for finale numbers.
Concertgoers can expect to hear both new and familiar tunes. Wild Rose Chorale is known for putting its own twist on tried-and-true songs.
The program is a mix of the poignant and reflective together with numbers that are silly and comical, said Wild Rose Singer JES Schumacher.
Audiences can expect to hear, for example, a couple of classical pieces with whimsical words added — an a cappella version of Frederic Chopin’s “Minute Waltz,” and “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the Nutcracker, for example.
In addition, Wild Rose sings the premiere of a brand new arrangement of a 2016 song by local composer-lyricist, arranger and pianist Linda Dowdell.
She wrote the original version of “Share the Joy” last year, which wound up becoming the finale number for Key City Public Theatre’s production of “The Spirit of the Yule,” a retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” co-written by Dowdell and KCPT’s Executive Artistic Director Denise Winter. KCPT stages “Spirit of the Yule” again this holiday season.
In researching her source material, Dowdell said the text of the song is mainly Dickens’ own, rearranged.
Wild Rose personnel for this concert includes Lewis, Schumacher, Marj Iuro, Charles Helman, Doug Rodgers, Al Thompson, Lynn Nowak and student intern Orion Pendley, 16, a Port Townsend High School sophomore who studies piano and participates in the school jazz band and orchestra. He plays tenor saxophone and upright bass.
Wild Rose often offers a student internship.
“We want to get students hooked on the idea of lifelong singing and the options for pursuing one’s voice as an instrument,” Schumacher said.
“What we gain is the presence of someone who is young and ready to learn,” Rodgers said. “They bring energy and a different viewpoint to us.”
“It’s good to be around people who are experienced musicians, as it forces me to try to bring myself to that level,” Pendley explained.
“In the future, I definitely want to join an a cappella group in college. I would love to keep singing for as long as I can.”
As it is with most of the ensemble’s members, Iuro said she began to embrace choral music when she was Pendley’s age or younger.
“I came to love choral music in high school and that love has only grown,” she said.
“To bring disparate voice talents, skill levels and temperaments together to make musical magic is one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.”
Rodgers expanded on that thought: “Singing with others means you have to hear both yourself and the harmony created by the group. This takes some getting used to, but is a wonderful experience when it works.”
Schumacher concurred. “It is more exacting and takes listening to one another and carrying your part, which is more work than casual singing, and well worth the effort. There is nothing more satisfying than harmonizing with others.”
“Yes, we enjoy it as much as it seems,” agreed member Thompson.