Classical Music

The Evans Choir Brings British Choral Music to Saint John's Cathedral

The Evans Choir
The Evans Choir Photo Courtesy of The Evans Choir.
Perhaps you were roped into singing in a choir as a kid, or suffered through crass pop-music covers or flat renditions of hymns by out-of-tune singers on bleachers. Like many, you may not have the best memories of choral music. The Evans Choir wants to turn that around. The group, comprising professional singers and conductors in the Denver area, performs and promotes choral music and hopes to lure in new audiences.

This Friday, at Saint John's Cathedral, the choir will perform a concert titled Love Took My Hand: Vaughan Williams and the British Choral Tradition that will feature works by British composers, from the Renaissance to the present day, conducted by Catherine Sailer, director of choral studies at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music; Sailer also serves as the conductor for the Lamont Women's Chorus and collaborates with singers and other conductors worldwide.

Westword discussed this week's concert with Sailer via e-mail.

Westword: What will be the format of the show in terms of singers and musicians?

Catherine Sailer: The concert includes unaccompanied choral music, choral music with piano, and choral music with string quintet and piano. There are also a number of vocal solos.

What makes the British choral tradition especially interesting and important for that style of music?

The British have such a long, rich tradition in choral music, from sacred anthems and motets from the Renaissance to oratorio and new music.  There is a wealth of diverse repertoire to choose from, and the repertoire is beloved by performers and audiences.

Why did you select the composers and specific pieces to perform live?

These pieces were chosen to showcase the broad range of repertoire, to highlight meaningful texts, including those by George Herbert, biblical texts and Sappho, and because they relate well to each other in creating a singular experience.

What do you think the relevance of British choral music and choral music in general might be for the modern era?

The choral arts connect us.  When you sing with a choir or listen to a choir, you hear only the focused, authentic and unified art.  In our hectic, plugged-in and busy lives, it is powerful to see what the human voice is capable of in community with others.  Choral music is a uniquely human experience, and is not only relevant, but essential in our modern era.

How does the venue for the concert enhance the experience of the music, as opposed to another space that could have been secured?

St John's Cathedral is one of the most beautiful spaces in the city.  Just entering the cathedral changes the way you breathe, calms and focuses your mind, and prepares your spirit for something special. Much of what we are performing would have been performed in similar cathedrals in Great Britain, and the acoustics suit choirs beautifully.

Are there plans for doing more concerts for this kind of music in the near future?

The Evans Choir prides itself on its diverse repertoire and collaborations, so you never know what you will hear from us next — just that it will be exciting! This is a unique concert for us, exploring in depth this repertoire, and it is definitely a favorite for our singers. Coming up, we will be collaborating with orchestras at the music festivals in Vail and Aspen.

The Evans Choir Presents Love Took My Hand: Vaughan Williams and the British Choral Tradition with guests from the Playground Ensemble , Friday, January 20, at 7:30 p.m., Saint John's Cathedral 1350 Washington Street, or [email protected]; $20 adult / $10 students and seniors.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.