Aspen Choral Society spring concerts highlight songs by Mack Bailey and Ellen Stapenhorst |

Aspen Choral Society spring concerts highlight songs by Mack Bailey and Ellen Stapenhorst

The Aspen Choral Society will perform "Voices of Spring" Glenwood Springs on Saturday.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: ‘Voices of Spring,’ presented by the Aspen Choral Society

Where: Snowmass Chapel

When: Thursday, March 16, 7 p.m.

How much: $15/advance; $20/at the door

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;

More info: Additional concerts will be held at First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs on March 18 and at the Aspen Chapel in Aspen on March 19.

Songs by two longtime local singer-songwriters will be in the spotlight at the Aspen Choral Society’s annual spring concert. Dubbed “Voices of Spring,” the performances will showcase new arrangements of 10 songs by Mack Bailey and Ellen Stapenhorst for the choir of Roaring Fork Valley singers.

Choral Society director Paul Dankers has written the new arrangements, honoring these two local artists with a timeless treatment from a full choir.

“It’s brought tears to my eyes, hearing what Paul has done,” said Stapenhorst.

Dankers has gotten to know Bailey and Stapenhorst, and their folky work, through his tenure as music director at the Snowmass Chapel, where the singers frequently perform during services. The selections include songs to bring people together during this acrimonious time in America.

“Paul realized that our music has social themes that are relevant today,” said Bailey, who has been on the local music scene since his time with the Limeliters in the mid-80s. “He was thinking outside of the box about how we can get these messages across.”

Bailey’s “Two Way Street,” for instance, offers a lighthearted take on the hard-line partisanship in American politics. It was inspired by the 2008 presidential election.

“At the time I thought, ‘I can’t imagine an election being more contentious,’” Bailey said with a laugh.

Along with the new choral arrangements, the concert will feature short solo sets by Stapenhorst and Bailey. Additional songs by each will be performed by what Dankers is calling a “chamber folk orchestra,” which includes a bass, violin, cello, mandolin and guitar accompaniment.

Stapenhorst, in her 50-year career, has developed a gentle folk style that’s uplifting but not saccharine, spiritual but not religious.

“Throughout my life I’ve known the power of music and songs to bring about positive change, personally and in the bigger picture,” she said. “I do my best to write songs that are honest, uplifting and that bring people together, connecting our common humanity.”

Among the selections for “Voices of Spring” is Stapenhorst’s seasonally appropriate “First Days of Spring” and her song, “Traveler,” a celebration of the western landscape that she wrote in the 1970s when she was traveling around the west with her Aspen-based band Tanglefoot. n writing songs so long that they’re like my kids,” she said. “I’ve had this hope that some of my songs would make it into the lexicon of folk music. So this is really like a dream come true to have them coming out in this new way. I want my kids to go out and do good in the world.”

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