Mountain Madrigals ready to bring holiday cheer to Glenwood Springs
November 8, 2018
With three weeks of rehearsal left and the holiday season looming, the Mountain Madrigals are hard at work perfecting this year's songs and their performance for the upcoming concert season.
It all began 37 years ago when a group of eight people joined together to sing traditional English madrigals.
"The group got together to sing and have fun, then they decided if they were going to sing they needed to perform," Madrigals director Laura Porterfield said.
Every year, the choir offers four concerts over a three-week span in December.
The free event relies on donations to help pay for the cost of the music — rights to each song cost $250 — and the intricacies that go into staging the high quality concerts, which include printing the music, programs and promotional materials for the event.
All these years later the Madrigals, an all-volunteer group, continue to entertain the Roaring Fork Valley.
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Like many of the members of the group, Porterfield started performing with the group 27 years ago. A few years in, she was asked to take over the directing duties. She said she would do it for a year, and now 25 years later she is still directing the group.
"We love to sing, and we have a lot of fun," Porterfield said.
Each year, the process begins in February when Porterfield starts with 300 songs and begins to whittle it down to 30, before she and the music committee take it down to the final 15 songs.
Auditions are held in August to select choir members, and rehearsals begin the last Monday of the month.
The group meets every Monday for three months, and rehearses for two-and-half hours and also one Saturday a month for six hours to learn and memorize the songs.
According to Cliff Keen, over two decades ago, as a member of Defiance Community Players, he was alerted to the Madrigals auditions that night after rehearsal.
"They told me I had to have a piece prepared, so I went to the music store and bought a music book and chose a song," Keen said. "I think it was my worst audition ever, but for some reason they liked me."
Twenty-one years later, choir veteran Keen plans his holidays around the concert series. His entire family comes to town, renting a house on Four Mile and attending the concerts.
"It's my Christmas, and it's a time when we all get together," Keen said. "We started as a group to bring joy to the community."
For the first time in over three decades, the Madrigals will move their performance from the First United Methodist Church to the Church of Christ in West Glenwood.
This year's concert series is titled "Songs of Good Cheer" and begins Dec. 1 with a performance at 2 p.m.
The group includes 18 singers, three instrumentalists, a director and the sound and lighting team.
"It's been a great experience. My husband also joined this year, and this has been an amazing thing for him in particular. It's been very special and given him a lot of good, strong faith," first year choir member Lynnette Schlepp said.
The group's music is a mixture of secular and religious songs.
"It's not only good music, it's fun music. … People coming will have so much fun listening," first-year choir member Dave Bottroff said. "It's not your usual stuffy choir concert. The group likes to have fun with the performance.
Other performances will be Dec. 7, 9 and 15, all at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of Christ in West Glenwood.
"We just like to give the free gift to the community of wonderful Christmas music and to tell the story of why we celebrate Christmas," Porterfield said.