Chorale singers delight audience


Last updated 6/8/2022 at Noon


The Sisters High Desert Chorale offered their spring concert last weekend at Sisters Community Church.

The Sisters High Desert Chorale returned to the stage Friday and Sunday after a two-year COVID-induced hiatus. Under the direction of Connie Gunterman, the community singing group, totaling 27, performed a mix of well-known tunes ranging from Simon & Garfunkel, to Disney soundtracks, to a John Denver medley, and a Rodgers & Hammerstein medley before closing with a stirring “America My Home,” an arrangement of “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” and “America the Beautiful.”

The performances opened with the Renaissance Sisters, a recorder group who played a mix of six Bach and Telemann classics.

Both performances at Sisters Community Church were well received by audiences who rewarded the group with expressive applause. While the audiences were not as large as for the Chorale’s Christmas concert, they were nonetheless enthusiastic and could be seen tapping their feet and mouthing the words.

The youngest chorister is 10 and some are in their 80s. Donna Moyer is the piano accompanist for the group. Matt Faldmo played the djembe to accompany “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and Lola Knox was on alto recorder for James Taylor’s “That Lonesome Road.” As a community-based group, soloists are not a part of their programs.

Gunterman told The Nugget: “It feels wonderful to be back on stage in front of an audience. We see our singing as a service to Sisters. Live music is somewhat hard to find these days so it was a joy to sing again. We didn’t take the virtual path during COVID, but just waited for mask restrictions to dissolve.”

Gunterman explained how she arrives at the repertoire.

“For song selection, I provide the group with 12 to 15 song arrangements of diverse genre. The group listens to the songs then votes on the ones that seem most appealing to the people of Sisters. That becomes our core program.”

Tewenty-seven is smaller by half than in the past, the seeming nature of an all-volunteer chorus.

“So much of our work happens over many weeks of practice, then it’s showtime for whomever shows up,” Gunterman explained, adding, “Although small for spring, our group truly works to present good music, done well, that enriches the lives of those who attend.”

The group, originally formed as Sisters Community Choir in 2007, was rebranded in 2014 by founding director Irene Liden, whose career included 40 years teaching music theory, music ensembles, classes, and private voice; and as a professional opera singer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, performing with the Shreveport Opera Company in Louisiana, and Chautauqua Opera Company in New York.

Gunterman took the reins in 2016 when Liden retired. Gunterman’s first directing experience began early. As a junior in high school she was student conductor for both the school chorus and pep band. She sang in the Kentucky All State Chorus during her junior and senior years and fell in love with big chorus sound.

After high school, she attended the University of Kentucky, majoring in music. During her junior year, she was selected student conductor for the University Chorus, where she had the opportunity to conduct a group of over 100 voices.

To add your voice to the group, call 541-588-0362.


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