Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Singing the Classics with Caritas Chorale
Friday, April 5, 2019


Her husband was having too much fun.

That’s why Ann Taylor decided to join Doug Taylor at the Choral Rendezvous in Challis, even though she’d never sang in her life.

Pretty soon, Ann was having just as much fun, even though the temperature inside the school where they were singing was 90 degrees burning any bare skin touching the metal chair on which she was sitting.

And now, 20 years later, Doug and Ann Taylor are still singing with what became the Caritas Chorale.

“We sing because we love it,” she said.

The Taylors—and about 70 of their friends in the Caritas Chorale--will present their Spring Concert featuring the choral music of Mozart, Schubert and Vivaldi this weekend.

The first performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6; the second, at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 7. Both will be at Our Lady of the Snows, 206 Sun Valley Road. Both are free.

”We’ll be singing ‘Nisi Dominus’ by Galuppi,” she said, thumbing through a thick book of sheet music. “Also, Vivaldi’s ‘Dixit Dominus,’ Mozart’s ‘Misericordias Domini,’ Schubert’s ‘Kyrie,’ Michael John Trotta’s ‘Ubi Caritas,’ Craig Courtney’s ‘From Heaven to Earth’ and Dan Forrest’s ‘Always Something Sings.’ That’s a beautiful piece.”

The Caritas Chorale has its roots in the Choral Rendezvous that brought music to the mountains of Challis.

Doug Taylor went there with Chip Mills and Dave Carter hoping they could persuade Dick Brown, who was leading the rendezvous, to become the musical director at St. Thomas Church.

“I had sung with the glee club at Pomona College and enjoyed it—we always went out for beers afterwards. And I found this a lot of fun, as well,” said Doug, who is the chorale’s treasurer. “It was a challenge—Dick would pull 20 pieces of music out of his bag and we’d have to sight read all that music and present a concert three to four days later. But we thought anyone who could take such a diverse group of ages and experience and have them produce a concert three or four days later was pretty good.”

Upon taking the reins at St. Thomas, Brown decided the Wood River Valley could benefit from a chorale group that would bring the best of classical music to its audiences. And, so, in 1999 he assembled a small group of nonprofessional singers and named them the Caritas Chorale, utilizing a Latin word evoking charity or lovingkindness.

A few months later his Caritas Chorale presented Faure’s “Requiem,” a Mass for the dead in Latin. It  was probably the most difficult thing any of those initial chorale members had ever sung.

“That was a little scary because it was the first time I’d ever sung in a big group,” recounted Ann.



“I’d never sung at all so I had to learn to read music. But Dick always said that everyone could learn to sing--that very few people in the world are really tone deaf. Dick was very charismatic. And he made it fun and informational, as well.”

In the early year the Chorale toured Europe: First, France and Switzerland, where they spent a day singing with a French choir. Then through historic churches and cathedrals in Germany, Austria and Italy. And finally, Ireland and Scotland.

“A few of us took our golf clubs on that trip. Every time the bus stopped, we jumped out and played golf,” Doug said.

The sound of their singing reverberated in the cathedrals.

“We weren’t used to singing in that environment so we had to pace ourselves,” Doug said.

“It was important not to over sing,” chimed in Ann.

A few years ago, R.L. Rowsey stepped around from the back of the choir to the front as Brown retired.

Whereas Brown tended to gravitate towards classical blockbusters with orchestra, Rowsey has added some shorter contemporary pieces to the repertoire, often accompanied by a handful of string players, rather than an orchestra.

“I love the classical music but it’s fun to do the spirituals, the Broadways and the more contemporary pieces, as well,” said Ann.

One of the most difficult, she said was Leonard Bernstein’s “The Chichester Psalms.” Not only did the Chorale have to sing it in Hebrew but it involved a complex rhythm in which the measures were constantly changing from 4/4 time to 5/4 time to 7/8 time. And there were difficult parallel sevenths between tenors and bass singers.

“But it was a challenge that was fun to meet,” said Doug.

One of the highlights, Ann said, was performing two commissioned pieces by Boise composer David Alan Earnest with lyrics by Diane Josephy Peavey written to commemorate the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Nez Perce tribe’s experience.

The chorale performed the pieces in Idaho Falls, Boise and on the Nez Perce Reservation near Lapwai.

“It was very exciting to sing things that had never been done before,” said Ann. “And it was fun to interact with the Nez Perce—they put together a nice salmon dinner for us and showed us the tourist sights. Then we invited them to come down here where we hosted them in our homes and had some programs at the library.”

Over the years, the chorale has sung in a variety of venues, including a ranch south of Bellevue, Gail Severn Gallery, around the Blackbird Pond outside a private residence north of Hailey, at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden and outside the Limelight Hotel.

Members have enjoyed the camaraderie of working together to serve food during fundraiser dinners, even if it meant having to throw napkins in a drier after a downpour got the table settings wet a half-hour before showtime.

The chorale doesn’t require auditions—it accepts anyone who wants to sing, which Ann finds refreshing.

“Dick trusted that if someone wants to sing they’ll come to practice and they’ll succeed,” she said. “If they’re not committed, they will stop coming.”

The Taylors like that fact that they’ve met a lot of people in the chorale they would not otherwise have met.

“It’s rewarding to learn something and perform it,” said Ann. “And I’ve enjoyed it because Doug and I are doing something together. It’s enriched our lives and, hopefully, the community’s.”



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