One big happy
The veteran music teacher has taken it upon herself to teach 108 children to sing and dance – in unison, on pitch, with smiles. She did it voluntarily, and it worked. The Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale belts out their spring concert at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Saturday at 5 p.m. The performance is free, though naturally donations are accepted.
“Open that mouth,” she called to the chorale members during dress rehearsal Wednesday evening. “Sing from the heart. I haven’t done the program yet, so if you’re not going to sing it and mean it, you need to let me know.”
And the kids – the kids sang to beat the band.
They’re grin makers. There’s something irrepressible about the kids, wheeling through their choreography while singing standards (“Hey, Look Me Over,”) retro hits (“Dancing Queen,”) multicultural numbers (“De Colores”) and Disney medleys (“Peter Pan”).
“My favorite song to perform is ‘Footloose,'” said Reagan Gass, 8. “I like the songs that are in videos – I just like the songs that really get me.”
The grand finale act, “We Are Family,” is another favorite.
“It’s always nice to take a trip down Memory Lane,” mused Philip Kramer, 11.
Which begs the question, what sort of Memory Lane does a fifth grader have in relation to ’70s song?
“Well, my parents listened to it,” he said. “And there’s a person at our school named Diane Lane who is a big fan of these songs. You hear them every once in a while.”
“It’s got fun moves to it,” said Alexandra Bohren, 12, about the song.
Kramer and his cohort, Austin Woodworth, 11, have another musical project cooking. They’re half of the band the Four Leaf Clovers.
“We’re not that good at sports, and we have nothing else to do,” said Kramer.
“We like to use our free time singing,” explained Woodworth.
The theme of the “Sing and Shine” concert is songs through the decades, which is how ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” makes it in the repertoire.
“It’s so much fun,” said Cara Murbach.
“You get to dance with boas,” exclaimed Christine Crotzer, 13. Both she and Murbach have been in the chorale for five years.
“I like the singing,” said Alex Whitney, 12.
The whole group is looking forward to performing on the stage at the Vilar, which seems to bring out the best in them.
“I like getting on stage and singing for my friends,” said Caroline Carlson, 11. “And there, when you’re off stage, you’re really off stage, not just on the side.”
“It’s fun being there,” said Rebecca Jones, 11.
And it has another perk:
“There aren’t any basketball hoops,” said Juliette Martinez, 9, looking around the Edwards Elementary gym.
The Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale is comprised of three groups, the Live Wires (grades 1-3), the Sound Waves (grades 4-5) and the Encores (grades 6-7). The 96 elementary school kids are led by the fearless Gulizia – who refers to herself as Godzilla when she’s on the rampage for perfection – and the 11 middle schoolers are directed by Lori Kay Brassfield. Fourteen schools are represented in the chorus.
“It’s so nice to teach children to love music,” said Gulizia earnestly.
She’s assisted in her efforts by Florencia Covasanschi of Edwards Elementary. Covasanschi helps coordinate props, dispenses snacks and makes sure the kids don’t run away.
“The chorale is a very good thing for these kids,” she said. “They learn songs, how to perform in front of an audience. And they make friends. Especially if they’re shy, they come out of their shells.”
Right on cue, the group became a singing parade, complete with drums, boomwhackers and recorders. And nobody forgot to smile.