In Montrose and Ouray: Dolce Voce
Barbara Boulden and a couple of friends had been singing in local choirs for a while, but they wanted something more challenging. It was Christmastime, and “we wanted to sing madrigals as well as carols,” Boulden said. Madrigals originated in Italy during the Renaissance; they are poems set to music, and are sung a capella – that is, without any accompanying instruments. It was about nine years ago that Boulden and several friends from Ridgway and Montrose teamed up to form an a capella octet called Dolce Voce (Italian for “sweet voice”) that does sing madrigals. In the intervening years, they’ve gone on to record three albums; though madrigals were their original specialty, their repertoire also includes jazz and popular music. They bring their eight-part harmonies to Ouray and Montrose this weekend for a performance entitled Sing We Now of Christmas.
When your entire choir is just eight voices and no instruments, you have nothing to hide behind. It’s just like cooking with few ingredients; each must shine. Dolce Voce does shine –indeed, their vocals have been described as shimmering. They’re well loved in Ouray, where the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild keeps bringing them back for a Christmas concert (this is their fifth year). This weekend, they’ll raise their voices in what Boulden calls “ethereal, heavenly harmonies” in the Irish “Wexford Carol,” and “Ave Maria” by Rachmaninoff. They’ll also offer a “foot-stomping” version of “Born in Bethlehem” as well as Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song,” which he wrote when he was just 19 and is known by its opening line, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
Dolce Voce performs at the United Methodist Church in Montrose (“fabulous acoustics,” Boulden said) this Saturday evening at 7 p.m., and at the Wright Opera House on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. If you’re curious about what this octet sounds like, visit reverbnation.com/dolcevoce, click on O Magnum Mysterium and there it is: the shimmer. For exemplary harmony of another sort, see Mel Torme’s performance of his Christmas Song with Judy Garland at tinyurl.com/8ymu3w.
Dude and Bro’s A Christmas Carol
Bill and Ted and their most-excellent adventures were the models for Telluride’s own characters, Dude and Bro, but instead of surfing a la Bill and Ted, the Dude and his sidekick ski. And instead of having an Excellent adventure, Dude & Bro have an Epic one. Sasha Sullivan, the artistic director at Telluride Theater, dreamt up Dude & Bro five years ago; they’ve appeared in a couple of her plays and other performances, and people kept asking her when they’d be back. It seemed the perfect time. “I love A Christmas Carol. I love the Muppets Disney version. I recently watched the film with Jim Carrey. And the book [by Charles Dickens] is one of my favorites,” she said. She had thought of adapting it to Telluride for some time, and, this being Sullivan, it will be “wacky and wild,” and feature a lot of familiar faces, characters and Telluride traditions.
This being Sullivan, the play will also have an edge. The story of A Christmas Carol is “fun, but also a little scary,” Sullivan said, and “it teaches a really cool lesson. It’s about taking stock of your life and where you’re going.”
And Dude and Bro are going nowhere. “I made them the Scrooges,” Sullivan said. “Ski bums and couch surfers in their 20s are cute, but by your late 30s, it is really not cute, and not OK. It’s not responsible.” She laughed. “We know people like that,” she added. A little lesson, a lot of fun, wild and kooky. Sullivan’s Christmas gift to Telluride.
Dude and Bro is rated PG-13, suitable for the whole family, and runs Dec. 18-22 at the Sheridan Opera House. Performances are 8 p.m. Weds.-Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets available at the door.
Finally, for the Scrooges – or just the skeptics – in your life, the perfect gift, out just in time for Christmas: a documentary called The Unbelievers. It’s a movie about two scientists, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, recently retired from a professorship at Oxford, and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, and the road trip the pair took a couple of years ago to speak on the topic of religion versus reason (and promote their new books). “They are among the most outspoken of the ‘new atheists’: scientists and other intellectuals tired of having sand kicked in their faces by the priests and mullahs of the world,” wrote Dennis Overbye in The New York Times about the making of the movie. “The erudite Dawkins and the jauntier Krauss take the science-denier community to the woodshed” in rallies and media interviews across the U.S., Great Britain and Australia (where they packed the Sydney Opera House), wrote critic Gary Goldstein in his review of Unbelievers in the Los Angeles Times. Goldstein dubbed the film “an enjoyably high-minded love fest between two deeply-committed intellectuals and the scads of atheists, secularists, free-thinkers and skeptics who make up their rock star-like fan base.”
Towards the end of the movie, Dr. Dawkins declares that many people are too intimated to pronounce themselves secularists or skeptics in today’s society; they don’t want the judgment or the backlash. Yet “we are far more numerous than anybody realizes.” The Unbelievers has recently been playing select venues around the world, including the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney and the 360 Contemporary Science Film Festival in Moscow. It opens tomorrow in New York and will, presumably, make its way to more of the U.S. – and onto Netflix and VOD – soon. For more on The Unbelievers, visit unbelieversmovie.com.