Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale celebrates 10 years
EAGLE-VAIL – “Mrs. Gulizia sees kazoos and jingle bells. If you have a kazoo or jingle bell in sight, you better put it in your pocket. And if you don’t have a pocket, you have a sock – I hope. Because, honeys, it’s showtime!” calls out Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale Director Liane Gulizia Friday during the troupe’s last dress rehearsal before its big holiday performance today.The children’s chorale is an after-school music program that meets twice a week, once in Edwards and once in Eagle. Its 162 members are from all over the valley, giving children an opportunity to meet kids from different schools, while they learn different aspects of singing and songs.Gulizia leads the children, or “my angels,” as she most commonly refers to them. Her affection for the children is immediately apparent with every term of endearment she speaks or humorously stern tactic she uses to silence wiggle-worm bodies. “Stand by,” says Gulizia, as kids jump to attention like soldiers, arms hanging at their sides. It’s a command she uses to regain order in between musical direction.”I lead the chorale because I love teaching music to children, especially to children who love music,” says Gulizia, who taught music for 10 years at Edwards Elementary. Aside from substitute teaching, the chorale is her job. “These students volunteer, so you know they have the desire to sing and perform.”
Three’s companyThe chorale is broken up into three groups: the Live Wires, first- through third-graders; the Sound Waves, fourth- and fifth-graders; and Encores, sixth- through eighth-graders, led by Robin Smart, who teaches music at Brush Creek Elementary.”The chorale teaches you how to work your voice and make it sound good,” said Brianna Johnson, 13, a seventh-grader at Berry Creek Middle School. She’s been singing with the chorale since second grade. “Mrs. Gulizia is so creative. She knows when to get down to business, but she also knows how to have fun.”The chorale teaches kids different styles of music, from Broadway to folk to patriotic and pop. During the winter concert today, kids will perform everything from a Santa hoe-down to “Silent Night” to a Hanukkah song about making latkes.”They learn performance techniques and not only music, but harmony. They also learn discipline,” said Marka Moser, president of the chorale’s board and the only founding member that still volunteers much of her time for the program. When her grandchildren moved to Europe, the chorale served as a reason for Moser to still be around small children. “Hearing children’s voices at Christmas time is what Christmas is all about.”Instruments are incorporated into chorale lessons, with the fourth- and fifth-graders exploring recorders and all ages using kazoos. As they study Latin music, Gulizia introduces the children to instruments of that culture. Today the children will perform “La Fiesta De La Posada,” and four kids will step forward to play instruments, like maracas and a cabassa, while the others sing and dance in the background.
“We like to accompany ourselves with movement too, which helps us remember the words. Plus, it’s so natural to move to music,” Gulizia said. Gulizia has taught the kids sign language to go with “Silent Night” for today’s performance. Owner of Red Lion in Vail Village Phil Long, on guitar; Helmut Fricker, on aplenhorn; and the Tony Gulizia Trio with Allan Finney and Tom Kirk will also accompany the number. “I like that we get to perform,” said Amanda Ortiz, 9, a fourth-grader at Eagle Valley Elementary. She said her favorite song of the holiday program is “Share Your Good Will.” “I like that it’s about helping poor people.”Celebrating 10 yearsIn 1995, Arlene Patterson started the children’s chorale with 17 students, Gulizia said. Now 162 kids are learning about music through the program.
Moser said they were caught by surprise this year because membership jumped from 106 to 162.”They cut music back in the schools, and they’re doing very few performances,” said Moser of the possible reason for peaked interest in the chorale.In honor of its 10th year, the chorale is cutting a CD in the spring, and Gulizia has chosen a song from each year to include in the holiday concert.”I also want to give mention of Jay Ortiz, the founding mother, and Nora Murbach, treasurer,” Gulizia said.Former members and their families will be honored at the performance at 5 p.m. today at Battle Mountain High School. Admission is free, but donations are happily accepted.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or email@example.comVail, Colorado