Madrigals making merry music
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” This time of year, we like to talk about the Christmas spirit, which is lovely but quite intangible when you think about it. It means different things to different people, and describing it is no small task. Whatever it is, though, Glenwood’s own musical troupe, the Mountain Madrigals, knows how to create it ” and has been doing just that for 27 seasons.
“It’s an awesome thing to take a piece of paper and turn it into this,” said director Laura Porterfield, gesturing toward her group of smiling singers. They were in the midst of rehearsal at a local church.
Listening to them, there was no refuting Porterfield. As they sang everything from fun little ditties like “Santa Baby” to religious pieces like “Silent, Holy Night,” they were enthralled. They were fiercely focused, as well. They repeated lines and whole songs if need be, attempting to make them perfect. Somehow, the fact that no one in the group is getting a lick of money for the shows made their buttery blend of voices sound even sweeter. Like every year since the beginning, Madrigal performances are free.
“It’s the most fun, rewarding thing you could do, to give a gift to your community,” said Porterfield, who began directing the singers 15 years ago.
That’s her reason for being there. And so many other Madrigals were happy to talk about his or her own.
“‘Cause I love to sing, that’s my outlet. That’s my joy,” said Susan Lauck, who’s been with the group since its second year.
She was actually asked to sing the first year but didn’t quite feel ready. Ever since her first performance, however, she hasn’t wavered in her Madrigal love. She’s given no thought to ever letting this go.
“Something would be missing in my life,” she said, with such sincerity.
Steve Shute couldn’t pull the number of years he’s been a Madrigal off the top of his head. He only knows his son was just 5 months old back then. Now, his kid is getting ready to graduate from the University of Colorado.
“This is the best,” he said.
It’s rare, he knows, to sing with a group so good. And he’s not one bit sad it hasn’t hit the big time. Its low-key quality is part of what drew him to the Madrigals.
“One of the greatest things I ever did for myself was decide I would never sing for money,” he said.
This way, he just gets to enjoy himself.
A bright ball of Christmas energy, 18-year member Annie Lee was raring to talk about the group.
“I’m just really grateful to be part of the songs,” she said. “I love to praise the Lord!”
A four-time Madrigal, Peruvian-born Walter Lazo explained that he does this because music is, as he put it, “in my blood.” He saw the singers for years before finally trying out. Once he got in, he almost felt like dropping out because he had a hard time with the pronunciation of certain words, but Porterfield and other members wouldn’t let him. Now, he admitted he still might flub a word here or there, but no one says anything. “They treat you like a brother, like family,” he said. “It’s a really good thing.”
While all these Madrigals probably feel like they’re getting back just as much as they’re giving, there was one person that night who really stood out. Sitting in a pew and talking about her musical past, she looked incredibly in her element.
A mother of four, Sharon Young’s dream was once to be an opera singer.
“Now that I get to do that again, I’m really enjoying it,” she said.
Though she trained professionally in her younger years, she gave it up in her early 20s when she was pregnant with her first child. Now that her kids range from 10-16, she can finally return to her passion a bit. In her words, it gives her a place “to put the rest of the world away.”
Though only in her second Madrigal year, she’s definitely enamored.
“It is exciting and fun. I don’t even know the right words for it,” she said.
That’s the Christmas spirit for you.
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