Grace Notes: DeVotchKa in Boulder, ‘Turandot’ in Denver, choruses everywhere

Season-ending performances provide broad choices for audiences

By Peter Alexander May 2 at 10:40 p.m.

The Longs Peak Chorus, the Longmont chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), will end their 2022–23 season of performances with a concert titled “Celebration.”

“Barbershop Harmony,” or “Barbershop Quartet” singing, is four-part a-capella singing for male voices. The most common format is to have individual quartets of four singers, although the music is also performed by larger groups of male voices, such as the full Longs Peak Chorus. Barbershop quartets have been featured in popular entertainment, such as The Music Man by Meredith Willson. 

Artistic License Barbershop Quartet

The occasion for the celebration is the 75th anniversary of the group, which was chartered with the BHS in 1948. Their concerts Friday at Saturday at Niwot High School (7 p.m. and 2 p.m.; details below) will also feature the quartet Artistic License and mixed choirs from local high schools.

Barbershop quartets are often associated with the “Gay Nineties,” or the 1890s, as was the case in The Music Man. Quartets usually wear coordinated outfits, often in a Gay Nineties style with straw hats and vests.

The visit by Artistic License and the inclusion of high school choirs are part of Long Peaks Chorus’s outreach to local music educators and students. Artistic License will visit local schools and spend time with choirs and their directors for clinics and coachings.

The program for the performances will feature classic four-part harmony as well as larger a-capella arrangements. 

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Longs Peak Chorus,  Ron Black, director
With Artistic License quartet and local high school choirs

7 p.m. Friday, May 5
2 p.m. Saturday May 6

Niwot High School Theater


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Boulder’s Cantabile Singers and artistic director Brian Stone will end the concert season this weekend (May 5 and 7; details below) with a tribute to the culture of the Chickasaw Nation.

The main work on their concert program will be Ilhoba”by the Chickasaw composer and pianist Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. Subtitled “The Vision,” Ilholba’ is based on a Chickasaw garfish dance song and will be performed in the Chickasaw language to a text by the composer.

Tate is an American Indian composer and pianist who has written symphonic music, ballet and opera. His works have been commissioned by major orchestras and performed around the world. He has gained a reputation as a composer who can successfully express American Indian culture through classical orchestral music.

Three other works complete the program. “Stomp on the Fire” by Andrea Ramsey uses the voice and percussive sounds of the body together. Chante Waste Hoksila (My kind-hearted boy) is a traditional Lakota lullaby that has been arranged by Lakota spiritual leader and composer Linthicum-Blackhorse in honor of the children of Uvalde, Texas. Finally, the “Wichita Baptist Hymn” uses two melodies from the Southern Plains Wichita tribe as transcribed by tribal member Tracey Gregg-Boothby.

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“Ilhloba’: The Vision”
Cantabile Singers, Brian Stone, artistic director

  • Jerod Tate: Ilholba’
  • Andrea Ramsey: “Stomp on the Fire”
  • Lakota trad., arr. Linthicum-Blackhorse: Chante Waste Hoksila (My kind-hearted boy)
  • Andrew Marshall, arr.: “Wichita Baptist Hymn”

7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5
3 p.m. Sunday, May 7

First Congregational Church, Boulder


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The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra will enter new territory Saturday when they team up with Colorado Indie rock band DeVotchKa (Russian for “girl”).

The four members of DeVotchKa

For one thing ,it will be their first appearance with the unique group that combines four acoustic performers with a wide variety of instrumental possibilities, including theremin, bouzouki, guitar, accordion, sousaphone, double bass, flute and percussion—among others. For another, the orchestra’s executive director, Sara Parkinson, will take a step beyond her usual administrative duties to conduct the performance—at the request of DeVotchKa member Tom Hagerman with whom she has collaborated in the tango quartet Grande Orquestra Navarre.

While this is a new role for Parkinson with the Phil, it is not really new for her. She has conducted opera, choirs, and orchestras in Boulder and with the Dallas Opera’s Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors.

DeVotchKa has a distinctive sound that derives largely from the inclusion of the sousaphone, accordion and the electronic theremin, along with more traditional instruments including guitar, flute and trumpet, along with a solid rhythm section. They have a passionate following in Colorado, and gained wider recognition after their music was featured in the Academy Award-winning film Little Miss Sunshine in 2006.

DeVotchKa describes their sound as a “blend of various musical genres, including Romani music, punk rock, and Eastern European folk music.” Their four key members are Hagerman, Nick Utra, Jeanie Schroder and Shawn King. The band was formed in 1997.

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Devotchka with the Boulder Philharmonic
Sara Parkinson, conductor

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6

Macky Auditorium


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Opera Colorado’s upcoming production of Puccini’s popular Turandot is selling rapidly. 

The two-thousand-plus capacity Ellie Caulkins Opera House is already sold out for two performances (May 6 and 24) and two other performances are currently listed as “limited availability” (details below).

Based on a play by Carlo Gozzi, Turandot is the tale of a cruel princess who seeks revenge on all men for the death of an ancestor. Besieged by suitors, she poses three riddles to the men who attempt to woo her; if they fail to answer correctly, they will be killed. After seeing the Prince of Persia fail and go to his execution, Calaf, Prince of Tartary, impulsively declares his suit.

Calaf successfully answers the three riddles, but offers to face execution anyway if Turandot can guess his name before dawn. Liú, a servant girl in love with Calaf, kills herself rather than reveal his name. Calaf himself reveals his name, but Turandot, rather than have him killed, declares that his true name is love.

Puccini died before completing Turandot. The score was completed by the composer Franco Alfano in time for the opera’s premiere, April 25, 1926, but the conductor of the premiere, Arturo Toscanini, chose to end the performance where Puccini had stopped writing. Subsequent performances generally use the Alfano completion, although it has never been highly regarded. Other completions have been attempted, but none have caught on.

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Giacomo Puccini and Franco Alfano: Turandot
Opera Colorado
Ari Pelto, conductor; Aria Umezawa, stage director

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6 SOLD OUT
7:30 Tuesday, May 9 (limited availability)
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 12 (limited availability) 
2 p.m. Sunday, May 24 SOLD OUT

Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver


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