Santa Fe Desert Chorale welcomes audiences and contributors

We who support the Santa Fe Desert Chorale are delighted with James Keller’s preview of our 2018 summer festival season (“Celebrating Bernstein,” Pasatiempo, July 20). As Keller does, and for most of us here in Santa Fe, our appreciation of the Desert Chorale focuses on the concerts at The Church of the Holy Faith, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and Cristo Rey Catholic Church. These concerts bring to Santa Fe imaginative chorale programming brought to life by talented professional singers from across the country who work with our outstanding music director, Joshua Habermann.

Given this quality, it is hardly surprising that ticket sales are booming. Nor is it surprising that Keller calls for more concerts.

Because many of our concertgoers here in Santa Fe may not be aware of the other contributions that the Desert Chorale is now making, I want to highlight them in two areas. First, in recognizing its responsibility to the broader Santa Fe community, the Desert Chorale has initiated community engagement activities. Second, in building the reputation of Santa Fe as a go-to place for chorale music, the Desert Chorale has expanded its musical reach to other communities in New Mexico and to the national stage.

As a community activity of note, the Desert Chorale has initiated weekly choral workshops at the Interfaith Community Shelter. Guests at the shelter participate as they are led in song by Sarah Nickerson, an alto in the Desert Chorale. Further, the annual Santa Fe Sings! has brought nearly 200 singers to a daylong workshop at United Church of Santa Fe. The Desert Chorale has initiated collaborations with many organizations, including the Museum of International Folk Art, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Bringing recognition to Santa Fe, this has been a year of heightened concert activity for the Chorale, with appearances in Albuquerque and Los Alamos as well as sold-out performances on tour in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and Pasadena, Calif.

Such activities are important, indeed essential, to the vibrant musical organization that the Desert Chorale has become. But it cannot be sustained through concert ticket sales alone. Its success depends on financial and in-kind support from many donors, both individuals and organizations. Opportunities exist for sponsorships of concerts and community activities. Also, the ambassadors are invaluable contributors to the mission of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale.

With the support of so many donors and organizations, the Desert Chorale’s artistic message is being heard. We are pleased that it now goes to an international public, with the Desert Chorale’s first fully professional recording, The Road Home. It was released by the London-based Avie Records label this spring at No. 3 on the Billboard classical chart. The disc has received enthusiastic reviews from national and international publications such as Gramophone.

The Chorale, now in its 36th year, continues its mission to “excite, engage and inspire diverse audiences with the beauty and power of great choral music.” We look forward to welcoming audiences to a wide range of programming this summer.

Sherry Kelsey resides in Santa Fe, is a lover of choral music, and is president of the board of directors of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale.

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