Vail Community Chorale continues tradition with free concert Monday, Dec. 21
If you go ...
What: A Christmas concert by the Vail Community Chorale and Mountain Harmony.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21.
Where: Vail Interfaith Chapel, 19 Vail Road, Vail.
Cost: Free; seats are first-come, first-served.
More information: Visit dickenscarolers.org.
VAIL — Like a snapshot out of time, the Vail Community Chorale, also known as the Dickens Carolers around Christmastime, will be donning their old-fashioned caroling garb and bringing some holiday music to Vail crowds as part of their annual tradition.
You can catch the Dickens Carolers performing acapella in restaurants and on street corners in Vail Village through Wednesday. Upcoming events include performances at Vail’s tree lighting today and a free concert at the Vail Interfaith Chapel on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The concert lasts about an hour and also features the women of Mountain Harmony, a barbershop-style group. No tickets are necessary, and seats are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bass singer and group president Jon Gamble said the group’s performances have become tradition around town, dating back to 1978 when the group first started as a chorale singing class at Colorado Mountain College.
“As part of the class, we did some caroling around town,” Gamble said. “After a few years of the class, we thought we might as well do it on our own as a singing group. It became tied in with our families and Christmas traditions. My wife and I raised three boys, and all three matriculated through the group.”
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Today, the group is made up of about 35 members, all volunteer singers from the community. Some have been in the group for a couple of decades. People often see the group perform and want to know how they can join, Gamble said.
“We’re in the memory business. When people see us, and we start singing the traditional carols, it evokes the memories from their childhood. You can see the pleased looks on their faces as they think about the traditional songs they used to listen to as kids,” he said. “The younger folks are impressed that we can generate music without plugging something in.”
Hear Christmas Staples
The group performs Christmas staples, and crowd favorites include “Carol of the Bells” and a medley of “Let it Snow” and “Snow’s Gotta Go.”
Throughout the decades, the group has picked up some traditions. The group used to stop at a piano bar in Vail and sing along with pianist Mickey Pogue. Each year, the group still reunites with Pogue for a few songs. This year, you can catch the carolers and Pogue on Tuesday evening at Vista at Arrowhead in Edwards.
“It’s an old tradition,” Gamble said. “Sometimes other longtime Vail musicians will come up and join us to relive some old times, too.”
Another tradition is the group’s Dickensian costumes. Top hats, bonnets, bow ties and hoop skirts are all part of the performance and add a special air to the group’s presence. Gamble joked that before the group began performing in costume, people would mistake them for a busload of drunks singing on the street.
“Once we started wearing costumes, people started wanting us to perform for events or in their restaurants. We realized what a powerful impact we had on the audience. People now see us and go, ‘Oh, carolers!’” he said.
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.