In rehearsal earlier this week, RainShadow Chorale sopranos — from left, Elizabeth Bindschadler, Marci Melvin, Katy Ottaway and Patricia Hauschildt — take a quick breather. The chorale will give its first concerts in two years tonight and Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

In rehearsal earlier this week, RainShadow Chorale sopranos — from left, Elizabeth Bindschadler, Marci Melvin, Katy Ottaway and Patricia Hauschildt — take a quick breather. The chorale will give its first concerts in two years tonight and Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

RainShadow Chorale singing together again

In-person concerts first in two years

CHIMACUM — At long last, they’re back to singing as one, sometimes in the rain.

The RainShadow Chorale will return to the stage for the first time in two years for a concert titled “The Promise of Living,” with performances tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 45 Redeemer Way.

“The dress rehearsal was a thrill, because we stood closer to each other and we could really hear,” said member Bruce Cowan, “and we could blend our voices,” which is what it’s all about.

The chorale is a community working toward one goal, added Beverly Schaaf, who has been an alto with RainShadow for some 10 years now.

The season’s first rehearsal, held outside, ended in a light drizzle, recalled Rebecca Rottsolk, the artistic director in her final season with this choir. She’s moved to Seattle, so these concerts are heartfelt for a few reasons.

Conductor Rebecca Rottsolk, in her last season with the RainShadow Chorale, will lead the singers in concerts tonight and Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Conductor Rebecca Rottsolk, in her last season with the RainShadow Chorale, will lead the singers in concerts tonight and Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

The “Promise” theme “expresses our love of music, our need to have music in our lives, and our hope for the future,” Rottsolk said.

The singers perform while wearing masks, which is a drag — “no question about that,” she added, “but if the choice is sing with masks or don’t sing at all, well you’ll obviously sing in a mask … The motto for this program is ‘It is what it is,’ and we are taking that attitude … We are thankful to be making music together.”

The church can hold 200 people or more, Schaaf added, but for each of these concerts, capacity will be limited to 150.

Tickets are available for a donation — $20 is suggested for adults, $10 for students — via Brownpapertickets.com and at Crossroads Music, 2100 Lawrence St. in Port Townsend.

Audience members must show proof of full vaccination with photo ID at the door; as with the singers, masks are required inside the venue. For more information, see www.rainshadowchorale.org or phone 360-379-3458.

The chorale is fully vaccinated; that was non-negotiable, Rottsolk said. Rehearsals were held either outdoors or inside the church with all of the doors open. And Rottsolk chose repertoire the RainShadow singers have done in years past, favorites she knew they would love rehearsing, even if it turned out they couldn’t perform live.

The chorale and the concerts are going ahead — with 33 singers performing tonight and Saturday instead of the typical 50.

“Even with these precautions, a number of singers still did not feel safe enough to sing together. Usually they were living with a vulnerable person and couldn’t take any extra risk,” Rottsolk said. “We had thought to have a string quartet, but just chose not to add complication and more bodies.”

Pianist Lisa Lanza will appear in this weekend’s concerts; “she has shared her musical artistry with Rottsolk for many years,” Schaaf noted.

During the recent rehearsals inside the church, Lanza’s music filled the space, interweaving her notes with the singers’ voices. During Monday night’s windstorm and widespread power outages, added Schaaf, the lights did stay on for the chorale’s rehearsal.

Still, “it was a challenge to pull it all together. I will miss this choir – we have grown together as an artistic community, and I know that will continue after me,” Rottsolk said.

RainShadow has already engaged a guest conductor for its concerts in the spring: Jolene Dalton Gailey, the retired director of choral singing at Port Angeles High School.

“It’s been a thrill to sing together again,” Cowan said of RainShadow’s return. As for the mask-wearing, “the audience probably can’t hear our consonants as well. But the tone and feeling will come through.”

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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