Truckee’s new Community Chorus seeks singers | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s new Community Chorus seeks singers

Katherine Morris, Sierra Sun

Chris Nelson has been giving the gift of song to the town of Truckee, in one form or another, since he moved to the area in 1999.

This year, he’s hoping to inspire the rest of the community, particularly local high school students, to join him.

After months of planning and fundraising, the long-anticipated Truckee Community Chorus will be holding its first official meeting on Monday evening, Feb. 4. The original start date of Jan. 28, was pushed back due to weather conditions.

The chorus, which is being offered as a college credit course through Sierra College, was designed to bring vocal musical curriculum and culture to both adults and high school students in the community.

“We first got the idea to do this out of concern that Tahoe-Truckee High School had no real vocal music program,” said Nelson, who will be teaching the course and directing the chorus. “We met with [Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District] Superintendent Pat Gemma and several school principals, and decided that a class offered through Sierra College in the evenings would be the best way to get high school students involved. Later, we decided that a community chorus, not just one with high school students, would be even more successful because we could attract a lot more people.”

According to Nelson, who directs the local barbershop chorus, the Sierra Mountainaires, a committee began organizing for the community chorus last spring. The group then used a holiday sing-a-long that attracted more than 300 community members as a vehicle for publicizing the program.

The community chorus will meet once a week, on Monday evenings, throughout the fall and spring semesters, and possibly over the summer to practice for a 4th of July performance. The group will have its first performance at the end of the semester sometime in May.

“We’ll be taking a good variety of pieces from typical choral literature — folk songs, Broadway musical tunes, gospel songs, and pop songs,” Nelson said. Some of the first tunes the group will cover include: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Madame Jeanette,” and an old gospel entitled, “I Ain’t Got Time to Die.”

Sharine Drake, a well-known local vocalist who has performed at events like the Truckee Rodeo, said she is really excited about joining the community chorus.

“I think the chorus is really a wonderful thing, not only because it’s bringing the community together, but because it offers students a wonderful opportunity to practice and learn vocal techniques.”

Drake said she also expects great things from the very talented director, Nelson.

Nelson comes from a rich musical background. Aside from earning a bachelor’s and masters in music from the University of Utah, he has performed with legendary acts like Sinatra and Fitzgerald.

Before moving to Truckee, he also taught jazz history and served as music department head at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Drake said she really hopes the program succeeds in attracting musically inclined teens.

“It’s really sad that there’s such a lack of vocal music opportunities for our students in school and that there’s no high school chorus. I would have died if I didn’t have those opportunities when I was in school,” she said.

In efforts to seduce younger members, the program offers concurrent enrollment — two semester units of transferable college credit — to high school students enrolled in the course. Tuition fees are also waived for high school students.

“I think that high school students, being the wonderful adults that they can be, will fit in beautifully with this program,” Nelson said.

At this point, roughly 30 people have signed up for the course. However, Nelson hopes more vocalists will trickle in over the next week or two.

“I hope people will find that the chorus offers them a great musical outlet and a wonderful, varied program. Especially those people that have sung before and enjoyed it, will find this chorus to be a great fit,” he said.

The first meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 4 from 6-9:10 p.m. at the Tahoe-Truckee High School Music Room. For more information, please contact Chris Nelson at 582-8488.