October 14—After two years, the Cheyenne Chamber Singers return to center stage.
But this return to live performance is not without some uncertainties.
“We haven’t done a great job of staying engaged with our base,” CCS manager Sean Ambrose told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “Our people who have been participants and sponsors of Chamber Singers forever will be there, but without that ongoing audience development, when you step away for a while, you lose people.
“I’m not sure what impact this is going to have.”
Given its hiatus, the band ended up losing a number of longtime vocalists, some of whom had been with the organization for 35 years. In turn, Ambrose made an effort to invite new members into the group. Although he didn’t achieve the 32-person choir he wanted, he was able to get 24–26 singers for that season.
Performing with the Chamber Singers is a season-long commitment, an aspect that at times can serve as a detractor, depending on how serious an artist is about joining. During the season, members must attend one practice per week (there used to be two), as well as perform the necessary vocal exercises on their own. If they miss training, they are eliminated.
This last adjustment is the most difficult for Ambrose. Having two practices a week keeps the band on the same page, and as the director prepping his chorus, “(him) gives more bites to the apple,” he said.
There might be less practice in preparation for their next concert, “The Sacred Veil,” but in this scenario, that doesn’t indicate a drop in quality. It just means that the singers are going to have to tighten up a lot faster than they could.
“I made a very deliberate decision to throw an incredibly tough job in front of them from the get-go,” Ambrose said. “It’s just to fire the engines hard and set the stage. We’re going to approach it as professionals this year. We’re going to do our job.”
With a title symbolizing the “thin veil between life and death”, this concert is different from the standard choral performance. Rather than focusing on uplifting harmony and lyricism, as the singers will provide in their popular Christmas performance, the score to “Sacred Veil” will attempt to cover themes of love, death, and death. impact of a cancer diagnosis.
It is more common to encounter heavier themes in theatrical performances, such as opera or ballet. In a way, CCS is taking a gamble on how the audience will react to the emotional impact of this hour-long, five-movement performance.
The show will take place at the Lutheran Church of the Ascension, a new venue for the group, and particularly intimate, compared to a larger church like St. Mary’s Cathedral.
There are approximately 250 places available in the church. For the first time, the Cheyenne Chamber Singers are accepting donations for admission, rather than strict ticket prices, in the hope that this will encourage more people to attend.
Because CCS hasn’t performed solo since 2020, the singers are looking to make some noise with the start of their new season.
“Honestly, for us, after two years of not quite the right thing, it’s like, OK, time to sink or swim,” he said. “It’s time for us to say, ‘We’re back. We’re here. We’re going to do it.’
“If we have to do this, we will do everything.”
Will Carpenter is the arts and entertainment/reports reporter for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.