Vocal groups offer sounds of the season

Sierra Gold Chorus, Colla Voce present shows this weekend
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Choruses around the world are warming up their vocal cords for a season of singing, and Auburn is no exception. Prepare for a music-filled weekend as two groups and an array of guest performers raise their voices to the rafters in holiday performances.

Follow the voice
Chamber choral group Colla Voce of the Sierra presents two concerts this weekend, one in Grass Valley Saturday evening and two performances Sunday in Auburn.
The group was founded in 2005 and is still under the direction of conductor Janine Dexter. The name is derived from an Italian saying, “follow the voice,” according to baritone Larry Dorety, and describes an important role the chorus plays.

“When there is a soloist up from and the chorus is backing him or her up, the soloist sets the tempo and if they linger on notes or get off beat, it’s the job of the chorus to follow the voice of the soloist,”?Dorety said.

Dorety added that concertgoers can expect an entirely new choral experience at the “Olde English Christmas Concerts,” as opposed to just sitting and listening.
“We disperse ourselves into the sanctuary, into the room, and surround-sound the people,” he said. “That experientially is a different transformation that sets their expectation for what a choral concert is differently.”

Dexter has also asked area artists to join in the fun, displaying works in keeping with the concert’s theme. Photographers Jerry Berry and Ken Pense, watercolor artist Barbara Hoffman and ceramicist Rhiannon Brantson will display works, and storyteller Joan Stockbridge will weave a tale in the spirit of the season. The concert – and the art – will be presented in three phases: mystery, creation and celebration.

“I asked them to listen to the music and then create three pieces each that reflect that mood or are perhaps inspired by the music or inspired by the text – something connected to the music,” Dexter explained.

Brantson’s sculptures depict a chalice and plate and the Virgin Mary for the first two themes, and the last is a vase with flowers to represent celebration.
The Applegate artist said physical art and music form a natural combination.

“That’s how it always used to be,” Brantson said. “The only way we know anything about cultures before us is through their art, their architecture and the music that has been passed down, and that was always in the same thing together. I think they belong together.”

Dexter said her 29-year-old son provided the inspiration to combine art forms for a concert. The “multi-sensory” younger generations aren’t content to just sit and listen, she said.

“The experience is more important than just being a fed a service,” Dexter said. “In my concerts, I’m increasingly trying to create an experience that is centered in the music, but has other sensory components.”

In keeping with the “Olde English Christmas” theme, all the songs performed are British of some origin, be it the text or the melody. Colla Voce will present songs from the 1500 and 1600s, including early chants, along with familiar John Rutter carols and English wassail songs. The group will also highlight beloved Christmas melodies from Mannheim Steamroller pianist Jackson Berkey and local composer and pianist Linda Dawson.

Women’s chorus hits a high note
Also performing Saturday is the Sierra Gold Chorus, the local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide a cappella female barbershop group. Sierra Gold formed in 1993, according to director and producer Judi Naill, and now boasts about 40 singers.

Sierra Gold is a four-part harmony a cappella group that rehearses year-round. Women are invited in September to take part in the Christmas show, and this year nine women will sing along with the group at its Saturday performance.

In between listening to Sierra Gold’s repertoire, the audience will enjoy complimentary refreshments at intermission.

“A Grand Ol’ Christmas” includes Christmas and non-Christmas music, Naill said, and several quartets will sing in addition to the main chorus. One, the Lipschtick Quartet, is a Bay Area-based group that offers harmony and comedy, with crazy costumes and over-the-top makeup.

“They’re a lot of fun,” Naill said. “Everybody will just love that.”

The second act of the show will consist entirely of Christmas music presented in a unique way.

“Santa and his elves are presenting a variety show to the world, and we are that variety show,” Naill said.

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at


A Grand Ol’ Christmas
What: Sierra Gold Chorus concert
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Where: Parkside Church of the Nazarene, 3885 Richardson Drive, Auburn
Tickets: Advance sale $15 adult, $7 ages 16 and under; at the door $18 general admission, $7 ages 16 and under. Joan Frink, (530) 367-3532


An Olde English Christmas
What: Colla Voce concerts
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Where: Grace Lutheran Church, 1979 Ridge Road Grass Valley

When: 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11
Where: Pioneer Methodist Church, 1338 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 seniors and students, $2 ages 17 and under at, Latitudes restaurant or the Chamber of Commerce in Auburn or (530) 305-1316