by Roberta Valdez Sladovnik, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, proud 1980 Chorale Alumna, Alumni Parent of Madeline (2012) and parent of Claire (Prep Choir)

The manila envelope came in the mail to the Colorado Children’s Chorale office, a bit nondescript, containing a small collection of programs and letters from 1984-86. They were sent by Chorale alumna, Holly Swank Cummings (1986) to become part of our collection of memorabilia representing the past 40 years of making music. Among the letters explaining necessary administrative processes and policies, the Chorale Voice newsletter, and a few concert programs, there was a booklet titled “A Children’s Story for Grown-Ups.” Intrigued, I opened it and began reading.

“Once upon a time there was to be a great opera performed. Its Chorusmaster was a stern and artistic man given to self discipline and serious dedication to his art. Music was his life and he loved it dearly.” Of course, I knew right away that the Chorusmaster just had to be Chorale founder, Duain Wolfe, and I almost closed the booklet and put the story away, because I already knew that story:

…There was an opera called A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Central City Opera needed kids to perform with them in the opera. Music cue…enter Duain Wolfe. He finds kids. They perform and just like that, the Colorado Children’s Chorale was born. Next.

Why would it take a full booklet to tell that story? When I submit grant proposals for funding, I often have to fit the “Chorale story” into 1,000 characters or less. (For the record, 1,000 characters including spaces, is really not THAT much space.) This story, however, was written much more cleverly than I’ve ever summarized and it brought a smile to my face. I took the booklet around the office, asking if anyone remembered this story and who wrote it. Nothing.

A Children's Story for Grown-Ups_Page_1I e-mailed Mr. Wolfe and asked if he remembered the story. In fact, I was convinced that he had written it, because I couldn’t imagine that someone who was not part of the Chorale could have written this story so well. I was mistaken. DW’s response:

It was written by Chris Preston (I believe that’s his last name).  He worked for the PR firm that created our early posters and was loyal to the Chorale for so many years.  Chris joined another firm in San Diego a couple of years later so we haven’t seen him in thirty years.  He is also the person that came up with the tag line:  Performing Small Miracles. 

This story was written the first year that firm worked with us.  It was the 10th anniversary.  I was ecstatic about what they did for us — elevated the Chorale image to the “grown up” world.


I smiled when I read his response, because here we are, 30 years later, children taking the “grown up” world by storm. Some things about the Colorado Children’s Chorale have changed over the past 40 years (I am still trying to get over the stage swap between the A’s and the C’s), but “A Children’s Story for Grown-Ups” beautifully illustrates what hasn’t changed. The discipline. The artistic excellence. The healing quality of making music together. The adventures with friends from our neighborhoods and around the world. “The Trail.”

Which leads me to this weekend. For 39 years, I have had a piece of the Colorado Children’s Chorale in my heart. Sometimes, it was the tiniest of pieces, because I had other things, other interests that filled my days and nights. But this Saturday, April 12 at our Spring with the Children’s Chorale 40th Anniversary Concert, my heart is ready to be filled, completely, with the beautiful music of “The Trail”, a musical piece commissioned by the Chorale, written by alumni Aron Accurso (1991) and Adam Overett (1992). I’ve heard that the duo has magically captured the essence of the Chorale in this piece, in both word and music, and is a wonderful tribute to the thousands of children who have sung together in the Chorale during the past 40 years and those who will continue to sing, long after the applause has faded from this concert.

The story for both children and grown-ups continues this weekend. “There is a trail that lies ahead whose end I cannot see…” I can hear the children’s voices already. I cannot wait.

Read “A Children’s Story for Grown-Ups”


Friday, April 04, 2014



Dear families and friends,


We’re on the road again, this time with Regional Tour Choir. You may remember that my last missive came from Greenville, MS and we were out with National Tour Choir. Well, actually, we were snowed in with National Tour Choir! Things did thaw, and we did make it to Graceland, which we found just a tad under-whelming…but don’t tell Elvis. The Gold Record collection is quite impressive! We finished off that tour in style with dinner at Jackson’s famed “Cock of the Walk” restaurant and more fried food than a person should eat in a lifetime.


Today I am writing from the beautiful WYO Theater in Sheridan, WY. This Wyoming tour is one we are very familiar with, making the circuit once every 3-4 years. We left Denver Tuesday morning at 7am, stopped for a performance at Coronado Hills Elementary School in Thornton, and then continued north to Casper. It’s always great to settle in to the oh-so-familiar surroundings of the bus, especially when our favorite driver, Andrew, is in the driver’s seat. While it might be more exciting to fly out of town, it’s waaaaay easier to move into the bus directly from the Chorale office parking lot!


About half of our young charges are on spring break this week, and many of the others tried to get their homework done last week while they were off, so there wasn’t as lot of school stuff to make room for. Everyone agreed we should shoot to have all homework finished before our drive home Saturday so that we can have a full movie day. We’re still working on it, but it’s looking good! We stopped for lunch in Cheyenne at a park right off the highway – grassy area for picnicking, playground, and open rec center for bathrooms. Perfect! It was a bit breezy, as per usual in Wyoming, but we enjoyed the fresh air, sun and picnic lunches. Thanks Mom, Dad and Grandma!


We arrived in Casper and went straight to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, one of our favorite “museums” in the country. They tell the stories of the seven major western migration trails in the U.S. Quick…can you name all seven?? Me neither, but the kids can: Oregon Trail, California Trail, Bozeman Trail, Mormon Trail, Pony Express Trail, and Bridger Trail. The Center experience starts with a movie that is projected behind life-size dioramas depicting all aspects of these journeys. From there, the kids wandered through the museum, exploring exhibits about each of the trails, including many interactive. We rode a covered wagon across the Platte; traveled by stagecoach; pulled a handcart full of supplies; lifted the mail pouch; and experienced a freezing trail-side burial. As I write this, the kids are reading aloud their journal entries on the Interpretive Center. They are stunning, illustrating the depth of understanding these extraordinary young ladies and gentleman are capable of expressing. Every entry is well-written and factual, as well as emotional and moving. As always, I am humbled and honored to be sharing my world with these middle-schoolers.


The Casper Children’s Chorale, a group of 80 4th-8th graders, were finishing their afternoon rehearsal when we arrived. They sang a song for us, and we in turn sang for them, before working on “Pasta” together. They are off to a competitive festival in Anaheim, CA next week, and their director, Marcia Patton, wanted them to hone their expressive singing skills. There is no better song than “Pasta” for expressive singing!!


The Casper parents prepared a delicious taco dinner for all to share, and we had a great time getting to know our colleagues. Their organization is very similar to ours, and was in fact started with encouragement and advice to their director from our founder, Duain Wolfe.


We stayed at the Best Western Ramkota in Casper, and they have a lovely, large indoor swimming pool – large enough for all 35 little fish to swim at once. That doesn’t happen often, so we enjoyed it immensely. Swimming isn’t actually the correct term for what we do in a hotel pool. More like bobbing and splashing and screaming…at the top of your lungs. The kids love it. The staff cringes.


Wednesday morning we started a round of school shows in Casper at Natrona County High School. Two shows, with over 1,000 elementary school kids in each. Yee haw!!! RTC was spectacular, with 1,000 kids totally quiet and enthralled one minute, and singing along with gusto the next. And the best part? Our performance Wednesday night was on the same stage, so with just a wee bit of rehearsal time thrown in, along with a nap, of course, we were ready for the evening show. The Casper Children’s Chorale opened the evening, and they were excellent – a hard act to follow. But follow it we did, and the show was fantastic. From the beauty of “There Will Be Rest” to the dramatic silliness of “That Awful Tango,” the power of “Seize the Day” and the fidgety feet of “Tunes in His Head,” they wowed ‘em!


Thursday morning we hit two more elementary schools in Casper, then continued north to Sheridan where we met the Sheridan Children’s and Youth Chorales, 60 singers in 3rd – 8th grade. We taught them “Pasta” and “I Bought Me a Cat” and had a grand time. This time it was a shared pizza dinner, with much silliness and raucous laughter filling the hall. It’s amazing how quickly these young performers get to know one another. A thirteen-year-old is a thirteen-year-old, no matter where they live!


We checked in to our Sheridan “home” with plenty of time for another swim, in another pool large enough for everyone. After our usual bobbing and splashing rituals, we sang (at the top of our lungs) and danced “Do Re Mi” in the pool. This involves several full body submersions in order to properly execute the choreography, but we are not deterred by this challenge. Under we go, and when we emerge on “mi,” we are more or less together, if a bit breathless. Ah, what we do for our art!


As usual, the graduating eighth graders came on tour with a little surprise planned for me. This crew, Emily H., Valeria, Bridget, Zach and Cameron, with help from traitor-Ms. Smith, managed to wreak havoc on my room AFTER LIGHTS OUT. And not only that, they jumped out from behind the bed…MY bed…when I walked in! Eighth graders – can’t live with ‘em, wouldn’t want to live without ‘em.


This morning, after a delicious hot breakfast at the hotel, we visited King Ropes and Saddlery, another favorite stop on the CCC tour circuit. They custom-make both ropes and saddles for cowboys all over the world. We watched how the ropes are made and tied, learned how a custom saddle is fitted and the leather is tooled, and marveled at the array of taxidermy hanging on the walls, including a two-headed calf. We are definitely some of their most distinguished and famous visitors, though I did see that Queen Elizabeth visited in 1984. I am certain she didn’t ask interesting and intelligent questions like we did.


Back to the WYO Theater, we had lunch and then did a school for a packed house of 500 elementary students from the Sheridan schools. Several of our friends from the Sheridan Children’s Chorale were in the audience, and joined us on stage for “I Bought Me a Cat.” It was a very enthusiastic audience, and that always brings out the best in our troupe. We had a rockin’ afternoon!


And we continued to rock right through the evening performance. Regional Tour Choir has come a long way in these four days, and we are extremely proud of them. Unbelievably, we are on our way home already tomorrow, anxious to see parents, siblings and friends. We will miss the bubble of tour and the high of performing. Monday will find us back to reality, but better for having spent this time together.



Debbie DeSantis


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Check out more awesome pictures from National Tour Choir’s recent performance tour in the Mississippi Delta, up to and including more pictures from the 8th grade prank!



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Enjoy some more pictures from National Tour Choir’s performance tour in Mississippi. More pictures to come tomorrow!


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Monday, February 10, 2014


Dear families and friends,


If it’s springtime in the Rockies, it’s tour time for the Children’s Chorale.  I know I am probably a bit premature with the “springtime,” but a girl can dream.  This tour finds National Tour Choir in the Mississippi Delta, and as we check the weather here and at home, it’s warmer in Denver!!  We’re not complaining, however – we hear the birds singing every day, see the buds peaking out on the trees, and hints of new grass struggling through the rich Mississippi mud.  Though, as I write this letter, they are anticipating freezing rain and snow for tomorrow!  We say “no!”  We have schools to visit and concerts to give, with no time for freezing rain and snow.


We left Denver very early Saturday morning or, as many complained, in the middle of Friday night.  The staff call at DIA was 3:15am, and the kids were all there by 4am!  The good news about that early arrival time is there is no traffic on the roads, at the check-in counters or in the security area.  We were split for our air travel to Jackson, Mississippi, with 12 kids plus three staff on American Airlines laying over in Dallas, and 24 kids plus four staff through Houston.  Both flights had a scheduled 6:00am departure time and arrival times in Jackson just 30 minutes apart.  Ms. Burke, Mr. Branam and grad extraordinaire Ky led the charge on American Airlines; Ms. Smith, pianist Mrs. Wright, tutor Mrs. Proffitt and I headed up the United contingent.


Everything worked perfectly as planned.  The American team arrived at baggage claim just as the United’s pick up their last bag.  Our bus was waiting for us, complete with driver Horace, and we headed up the road to Cici’s for lunch.  All the salad and pizza you can eat, complete with SIX custom-made pieces for William – no cheese, plenty of tomato sauce and pepperoni!


As we headed north to Greenville, Horace told us a bit about what we were seeing along the highway – cotton and corn fields, waiting to be planted; cypress swamps hiding alligators and snakes; and the magnolia, Mississippi’s state tree.  We pulled out the Mississippi maps (thanks, Mrs. Proffitt!) and did our first map study.  Find Jackson.  Find Greenville.  What road are we on?  How many miles from Jackson to Greenville?  How many different ways can you figure mileage on a map?  Where are we RIGHT NOW?  This had us staring out the bus windows for quite some time, as we discovered that road signs are few and far between on Hwy. 49, and there are no mile markers.  We spotted some sky-balls (otherwise known as water towers), which sparked a discussion about why we call them sky balls, and why they are in the sky.  And then we discovered they often have the name of their town printed on the ball, and we knew where we were!  Whew.  Fortunately, Horace knew all along.


We took a little detour through Belzoni, which claims the title  “Catfish Capital of the World,” to see its 30+ giant catfish sculptures, adding to our collection of giant things spotted throughout the U.S. these past forty years.  After checking into our hotel in Greenville, we had some time to relax and wash up before dinner at Tabb’s BBQ – the beginning of our gastronomic adventures on this tour.  The chicken, rib, and pulled pork plates were the size of our heads, and everyone dug in with gusto.  Our sponsors from the Delta Children’s Museum and Symphony Association were there to greet us and we were presented with charming little gift bags.  Mississippi key chains, small buses and tractors, pencils and a Mississippi-shaped cookie.  Yum!  We met Dr. Engle, Judy and Betty, our hosts and companions for the next few days.


Sunday morning, after some homework time in our hotel rooms, we toured the River Road Queen Welcome Center, learning about the Great River Road, which parallels the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana.  The Welcome Center resembles the Victorian riverboats that once ruled the river and is filled with wonderful exhibits describing the Delta region, its history, and the Mighty Mississippi.  From there we followed Hwy. 82 along the levee to the new bridge (the 4th longest in the U.S.) and over the Mississippi River into Arkansas.  Just because!


The highlight of the day was the B.B King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.  Bluesman B.B. King’s life and career are beautifully detailed in this state-of-the-art museum.  From the introductory film to the historical perspective surrounding the civil rights movement, B.B.’s guitar “Lucille,” and the opportunity to sit in on a jam session with B.B. and his band, it was a rich experience for all of us.  We had been listening to some of his music in the bus as we drove from Jackson to Greenville, learned about the 12-bar blues, and then became immersed in the culture of the early days of blues at the museum.  With all of this information, we were prepared to write our own blues songs and, of course, the one hardship we are currently enduring, worthy of singin’ the blues…homework.  For those of you who don’t know, blues lyrics are very simple, consisting of few words.  Each verse makes a statement then repeats it, sometimes with more descriptive words, then a follow-up statement.  You only need four chords, so get your guitars and sing along!  Emma provided the first offering.

They say I need my homework, I say fine.  (repeat)

And I’m glad, oh so glad, that my homework is all online.

I ask how many hours, they say only nine.  (repeat)

And right then I’m glad, oh so glad, that my homework is all online.

Now I’m going away, there will be no wi-fi.  (repeat)

Then I’m not glad, in fact I’m mad, that my homework is all online.

From Elise:

How do they do it, I say? (repeat)

Those kids who have homework three hours a day?

Oh, my life is a-okay.  (repeat)

“Cause homeschoolers never do homework.  Hooray!

From Ben:

I’m wakin” in the mornin’, it’s a quarter to four.  (repeat)

I got so much homework that I can’t sleep no more.

From Sydney:

You break my heart and make me cry.  (repeat)

You turn my brain to mush, oh Algebra, why?

Your letters, they confuse me – a, b, c, and d.  (repeat)

Oh, Algebra, I already learned how to read.

Your graphing takes forever, my hand is falling off.  (repeat)

And if I’m not done soon, I’m going to barf.


After two days of travel and sightseeing, we were happy to get to work on Monday morning, with workshops and performances at Trigg Elementary and Lucy Webb Elementary Schools.  We had a blast!!  All of the workshop participants, 70 at each school, had learned “Do Re Mi” and “Pasta,” and they were ready for the choreography.  It is delightful to watch Tour Choir work in these situations.  The shyest among us step up to the plate, bravely taking the lead, instigating conversation, and gently teaching the appropriate skills.  They laugh together and cajole their young charges out of THEIR shyness and soon everyone is singing and dancing like pros.  When that applause comes, they bow and come up beaming.  I love it!


We did a show in each school, to large, very excited and appreciative audiences.  I was so proud of this Tour Choir.  It doesn’t matter if it is a school gym, a stage, a hotel lobby or the corner of a restaurant, they perform with enthusiasm and precision, engaging and delighting everyone who sees them.  Following our morning performance, we had lunch at Trigg Elementary, sitting amongst the 1st and 2nd graders who were just at the show.  We were rock stars!!


Just up the road from Greenville is the little town of Leland, birthplace of Kermit the Frog.  Muppets creator Jim Henson spent his childhood in Leland, playing along the banks of the river and ultimately creating that loveable Kermit.  The first incarnation was made from his mother’s old coat and a ping pong ball.  The little house on the river is filled with vintage Muppets and memorabilia.  And best of all, a gift shop.  The bus has quite a few new passengers aboard!


At dinner Monday night, we were treated to a special performance by Billy Smiley and the Young Guns, a local blues trio.  They had us dancin’ in the aisles!




Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Well, if you are following the national weather at all, you might have an idea about what’s happening here in Mississippi!  Since yesterday (Tuesday) morning we have been in a winter storm warning area.  Based on the reports Monday night, they closed all of the schools and public buildings Tuesday, and everything is still closed today.  We had a day off today, anyway, but our plans for travel to Memphis and GRACELAND in search of Elvis had to be scratched.


The ice really is something we just don’t see in Colorado.  Here in Greenville it is not as bad as we are seeing in other parts of the south – there are no icicles hanging from trees and power lines – but any flat surface is literally covered in a solid sheath of ice.  The highway in front of our hotel sees only an occasional brave car sliding by.  We slept in, then joined our fellow travelers for breakfast.  We’re becoming quite good friends with everyone!  Yesterday morning we did an impromptu performance in the lobby, along with a birthday song for one of our new friends.  The woman responsible for stocking the breakfast bar was worried that there would be no room for the kids, as other hotel customers were just hanging out playing cards and drinking coffee.  She was going to tell everyone else they needed to leave.  I assured her there would be no problem, as people tend to clear out when they see us file in.  And I was right!  We have received nothing but compliments on how well-behaved, polite, and delightful the kids are at every turn, and these breakfasts are no exception.  Other guests nicely move from the tables, but they don’t go far, as they enjoy visiting with and about the kids.  They even offer to make waffles for us!


We were scheduled to do workshops and performances for three different schools Tuesday.  Instead, we slept in and “returned to our childhood,” in Hayden’s words, watching cartoons.  Fortunately, the hotel has a small conference room and we assembled there for some Olympics action.  The event?  Quadruple Rhythmic Clapping and Dance.  All entries were rated for originality, creativity, synchronicity and functionality.  We opened the competition with time trials in the creation category.  The first place winner in the time trials was Team Djbouti (Margaret, Elise, Caroline, Sarah) with a time of 7:14:01.  They actually came in a minute faster, but unfortunately incurred a penalty for attempting to sabotage other teams with their very loud and distracting practice “rituals.”  Team South Africa (Bella, Lillian, John, Warren) came in second with a time of 8:33:03, and Team Australia (XiXi, Aitana, Rhys, Sydney) took third with 13:27:56.  Ms. Canada, or Burke, was the referee, with Ky, Mrs. Proffitt and me judging.


Team Siberia (Mallory, Sam, Emily, Leah) showed some excellent single over-under hand work, but lost focus toward the end of the routine.  Team Canada (Ben, Anna, Clarice, Joey) exhibited questionable team chemistry, but nice balletic style and musicality.  Team England (Emma, Parker, Kira, Cameron) suffered an unfortunate wardrobe mishap, with several sleeves not in the correct position, possibly due to their excellent rhythmic execution.  Team New Zealand (Toby, Torin, Josh, Hayden) took some impressive physical risks, but couldn’t quite overcome their sloppy execution.  Team Jamaica (Charlie, Josef, Lukas, Zack) were handicapped by their obvious height difference, but executed some technically difficult behind-the-head clapping.  Team Independent (Quinten, Brennan, Devon) recovered well from their unfortunate false start, using a slower tempo to gain a definite advantage.  Team Australia (see above) presented a well-conceived routine, with just one member occasionally causing a problem in their unison sections.  Team South Africa (see above) suffered from a minor loss of focus at transitions, but their simple, but effective choreography pulled them through.  And Team Djbouti (see above) suffered several unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions, with unauthorized use of socks and a BUS flying out of one member’s pocket!  The judges are having some difficulty determining the final scores, causing a delay in the medal ceremony.  Please stay tuned.


We were to have had lunch at one of our schools, but instead enjoyed the “best burgers in town” at Gino’s.  The favorite turned out to be the slaw and chili burger.  Yummmmmmy!  In anticipation of the schools being closed, our sponsors sent notes home Monday inviting the kids to join us at the Bass Auditorium at 1:00 on Tuesday if they wanted to participate in the workshop and the evening concert.  And they did!  We arrived and settled in, then did a 90-minute workshop for 30+ excited 3rd through 5th graders, plus a couple of younger siblings.  Again, they had all learned both “Do Re Mi” and “Pasta” before we arrived, so the choreography was icing on the cake.


After the workshop kids left, we set the show on the Bass Auditorium stage, with our only challenge being the electric keyboard.  Trying to find the correct balance and adjusting to the artificial sound is always tricky.  With Mrs. Wright at the keyboard, Mr. Branam on the sound board, and Ms. Burke’s ears in the house, we figured it out, along with spacing for all of our choreographed numbers.


The Bass Auditorium is in an old school, along with offices and art galleries.  The smell of popping corn drew us down the hall to the gymnasium.  We walked in and discovered…a beautifully restored, 100-year-old carousel!  It is the pride of the Delta Children’s Museum, and rightly so.  We were treated to several rides, along with the popcorn and drinks, and got in one last ride just in time for naps, and then dinner.


The workshop kids were returning at 6:00 for a final rehearsal prior to the concert, and they came spinning into the hall, all abuzz and screaming in delight, “IT’S SNOWING!!!!”  The last time anyone can remember snow here, they think, was…maybe…nine years ago, but they’re not sure.  None of these kids have ever seen snow before!  At first we didn’t believe them, as it seems to us that their idea of snow is really just frost.  We were wrong.  It was SNOWING!  Big, wet, slushy flakes.  It only lasted for about thirty minutes, but it was, indeed, SNOWING!  And by the time it was done, the ground was covered with slush, on top of a solid, thick sheet of ice.  We ended up with all of our workshop participants back by about 6:30, and Dr. Engle, our sponsor, asked if we would start the concert early so that everyone could get home.  No problem.  We grabbed our formalwear and headed to the dressing rooms.  Five minutes later, he came in and asked if we would consider a shortened version of the show, with no intermission.  People were really starting to panic about the weather.  Abort formalwear.  While the kids were undressing and re-dressing I came up with a modified show order, got it to Mrs. Wright, flipped my music around, and we were on stage by 6:40.  The kids followed every my every cue; Ms. Burke helped Mrs. Wright find music as I changed directions during the show, deciding on the spot to do this instead of that; and the workshop kids joined us for “Do Re Mi” and “Pasta” in their shiny new “Delta Children’s Museum” t-shirts.  I wasn’t going to do “Baseball Games” because it takes a lot of time, but the audience was so receptive and warm that I changed my mind.  They loved it.  And then they just kept asking for more!  We finished with “Tunes in His Head,” took multiple bows to an immediate standing ovation, followed by hundreds of photos with new friends, and we walked off stage at 7:40.  Dr. Engle and his committee were beaming with congratulations and thanks.  Workshop kids and their families were saying tearful good-byes to their Tour Choir buddies.  And everyone was marveling at the snow.


Wednesday went something like this:

Wake up at 7:30.  Breakfast at 8:15 for the boys and 8:40 for the girls.  Homework in the comfort of our hotel rooms, with staff rotating through on a regular basis.  Map and journal work in the hotel conference room.  Lunch across the parking lot at Shoney’s.  Bus to First Baptist Church.  Rehearsal for our upcoming Classical Afternoon concert.  Bus and tractor races in the gym.  Basketball.  Chair soccer. Popcorn and cookie snack break.  More homework.  Dinner at Super Buffet, the most extensive Chinese and seafood buffet we’ve ever seen, including crawfish!  Judy, one of our faithful companions, happily showed everyone how to eat their crawfish, with Lillian and Luk2as bravely taking the lead.


We now know the meaning of “ice storm,” and we also know we don’t have them like this in Colorado.  Everyplace you walk or drive is covered in a slick, thick sheath of ice.  Our walk to Shoney’s was truly treacherous.  You have to shuffle along, and struggle to keep upright.  Stepping off of a step is downright scary.  Your first instinct is to hold on to a buddy, and then you realize you’ll just pull one another down!  Driver Horace went out this morning to test the roads, and determined that it would be safe to drive after lunch, so we were able to get out of the hotel.  Dr. Engle arranged for the Baptist Church and we spent a very pleasant afternoon there.  Horace wanted to be back at the hotel before 7:00 when the temperature was predicted to drop again, so we headed to dinner at 5, and back “home” by 7.


Ms. Smith is the hero of this tour.  After spending days arranging all of our meals and activities, the snow days have completely upended all of her plans.  She spent the entire day today on the phone re-scheduling everything.  It’s supposed to be in the fifties tomorrow, and Horace feels it will be safe to drive by 9:00.  We are scheduled to be in Greenwood at Bankston Elementary School, about an hour away, at 10.  We have already told them we may be late, and they understand.  We won’t be hurrying.  Stacey was able to move our two afternoon performances, and we are hoping to make our trip to Memphis before returning to Jackson Thursday night.  All systems are go, and things are looking up!  We have been snowed in one other time in my Chorale memory, and that was in the middle of Nebraska, which is completely logical. But Mississippi???


Life is good here on tour.  Keep your fingers crossed for us and hopefully my next missive will begin with, “Elvis was in the house!”

Debbie DeSantis

Dear Ms. Burke and Ms. DeSantis,

I can’t remember if I left the Children’s Chorale in 1995 or 1996, but even now, as a 31 year old, I can’t imagine addressing either of you in anything other than the formal ‘Ms.’. It’s funny that these things stick with us even as we age. I still remember the seriousness of rehearsals and the joy of successful performances. I think my time in the Children’s Chorale affects me even now, almost 20 years after my last CCC rehearsal.

I left the Children’s Chorale for another high-level pursuit – I joined the US Snowboard Team soon after leaving the Chorale a year early, and used the discipline that I learned to propel me to a level of sport I never would have imagined for myself. I also used that discipline for academics and now hold a Master’s degree from Oxford in Slavonic Studies.

While I was at Oxford, I met a nice English man who also happens to be something of an amazement, musically. Like many English boys, he was a chorister at various cathedrals. He went on to become a rather well-respected organist in the UK. With his chorister background and my time spent in the Children’s Chorale, we have something of a shared musical history, and it has added enormously to the richness of our marriage.

I find myself writing to you now because for the first time in nearly 20 years, I will be attending a Children’s Chorale performance (on December 20, with the CSO). My husband will be coming with me – we are flying in from England the day before – and I am so proud to show him what my childhood musical experience looked like. I am sure I will bore him with plenty of stories of sitting quietly backstage at Boettcher, glaring at the CSO members, who never seemed quite as quiet or serious as us.

In any case, I wanted to thank you both for what was a truly formative childhood experience. I miss it to this day.

Merry Christmas!
Laurie Nichols O’Sullivan – 1996


I was driving around a nippy Houston, Texas last night with my pregnant wife and two kids in the van looking at Christmas lights and wearing, of all things, my black Chorale fleece. In our CD player was “A Colorado Kind of Christmas.” I could almost hear my Prep Choir voice singing “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir.” One of my boys goes crazy as soon as the sleigh bells start the one and only Chorale style “Jingle Bells.” This is the same two year-old that laughs so hard at the first two words of “Ding! Dong! Merrily on High.” My 4 year-old’s incessant request is “the Noel song” ["Masters in the Hall" in 5/4 time]. As for me? I can never get enough “Christmas in Colorado” or “Celebrate! Colorado.” But the best part of all, was when we got home, everybody else got out of the van and went inside. I just stayed there by myself, turned the volume up, and listened to one of the most peaceful, lovely, yet simple arrangements of “Silent Night” that I know of. And oh how the memories flowed! Happy 40th, Children’s Chorale!
Brian Cook – 1999


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