Fifty springs. Fifty summers. Fifty falls. Fifty winters.
Fifty Christmases. Some white, some not.
For fifty years, the Chantelles have shared their unique collective voice with the audiences of Northeastern Wisconsin and do so again by offering their 50th holiday concert titled “A Winter Celebration" for three performances in the month of December.
Under the direction of Susan Leiber and associate director, Deb Teegarden, the 30-piece, all female choir group, will present a variety of holiday songs that include traditional carols and modern favorites. Several numbers feature choreographed movement, much to the delight of audiences, which are typically comprised of spectators both young and old.
“Our song selection for every concert starts with a list of favorites from all the members," says Teegarden. “Our focus is to find that ideal balance of pieces to create an audience-pleasing combo of dance, rhythm, humor and beautiful melodies."
The Chantelles strive to do more for the community than simply share their voices with listeners. During holiday performances, the non-profit group collects food and personal hygiene items as donations for area food pantries in lieu of paid admission, but the Chantelles don't reserve themselves to acts of good will during the Christmas season. The group regularly visits area nursing and assisted living facilities to perform pro bono, regardless of season.
“Our concerts are not just opportunities to listen to beautiful music, but they're also opportunities to give back to the community," says Julie Willems, a Chantelle for the past 22 years. “It's an important part of what the Chantelles strive to do with every concert."
'A Winter Celebration!'
There are three opportunities to see the Chantelle's 50th holiday concert in December:
—Dec. 4 at Nativity of Our Lord Parish, 2270 S. Oneida St., Green Bay
—Dec. 15 at the Kroc Center, 1315 Lime Kiln Rd., Green Bay
—Dec. 16 at First United Presbyterian Church, 605 S. Webster Rd., De Pere
All shows begin at 7 p.m.
The first concert, held at Nativity of Our Lord Parish begins with a joint venture that includes the Green Bay Baylanders, an all-male chorus organized more than 70 years ago.
In a partnership that began more than 22 years ago, the Baylander's invite the Chantelles to be a part of their holiday concert annually.
“We [Chantelles] will sing four or five songs, and then we'll combine the two choirs to do three or four songs together," says Terri Murphy, publicity chair for the Chantelles.
“I love singing with them because we get to be part of a larger choir, and it is fun to hear the multiple part harmony we can create with them."
Admission to this show is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. Proceeds from this performance benefit St. Pat's Pantry.
In their final two performances of the holiday season, the Chantelles will have the stage to themselves, presenting their holiday show in full. Songs featured in “A Winter Celebration" include the bouncy, toe-tapper “Candy Cane Lane," the medley “Jingle Bell Christmas," the romantic, 1950s do-wop-styled “Holiday Romance," the Latin-infused hymn “The Snow Lay on the Ground" and the Leonard Cohen favorite, “Hallelujah."
These and other selections will be delivered in three- or four-part harmony with piano accompanist Chris Wilke. In addition, the concert also features special duets, trios and smaller groups of harmonic singers, adding a dynamic and often whimsical touch to the performance.
The Dec. 15 performance at the Kroc Center is free, but a free-will-offering to support the local outreach of The Salvation Army is appreciated.
The Dec. 16 performance at First United Presbyterian Church will feature some selections that differ from their previous performances. Admission is free with the donation of a non-perishable food or personal hygiene item.
Join The Chantelles
A 50-Year Sisterhood
Perhaps growing up you spent time singing in your school or church's choir. Perhaps you toured your neighborhood on a winter's eve, lighted candle in hand, singing carols to the delight of many. Perhaps you'd like to exercise that voice once again. If so, consider becoming a part of the camaraderie and sisterhood that's 50-years in the making and become a Chantelle.
You can even bring a friend, or daughter, or two.
That's just what Winnie Thomas did when she and her daughters, Corrina Charles and Tina Roskum joined the group this fall. The trio joined the group at the suggestion of Winnie's late son, Robert (Yuma) Newman.
Newman was a member of the Baylander Chorus and the Sounds Fantastics.
“We all would sing at home," says Thomas. “And he said, 'Mom, I wish you girls would go sing. You need to join, and you need to sing' and here we are!"
Another relative newcomer, Tallulah Caufield brought her second-soprano voice to the Chantelles in 2015.
“We have every age and every musical ability singing together," says Caufield. “We help each other in music and in life."
Caufield, a new mother, says the group brought her support and friendship during a time of transition.
“These ladies all have each other's backs; we are with each other for the good and bad times ... It's like gaining 30 best friends overnight."
“You would find," says Teegarden, a 21-year member, “this group to be as warm and as welcoming a group that you'd ever hope to find anywhere!"
Potential singers will find the audition process quite easy.
“It is a private audition," says Susan Leiber, now in her 27th year with the group. “We'll check voice range to see what voicing you should be in, whether as an alto or soprano. Then we'll sing along with you to hear pitch, and then we'll see if you can sing harmony."
For those whose music theory may not be up to snuff, the group covers that, too.
“We spend a few minutes each practice session furthering our discipline and knowledge of music," says Leiber, “because we can always learn and improve."
Here's to another fifty years, ladies!
For more information on the group, you may visit their website at thechantelles.org or find them on Facebook at chantellesgreenbay. For more information on auditioning, please contact Deb Teegarden (737-3776) or Terri Murphy (434-0845).