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.
I 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.