The Collegiate Peaks Chorale soon will begin a new season of music with a new director. ClearView Community Church worship pastor Brandon Chism will be leading the choral music this fall.

Chism had been involved in singing and choral music since his grade school days. He moved to Buena Vista from Chicago to join ClearView.

“The past 11 years of my career were spent as an assistant music director at The Moody Church in Chicago, which has a rich choral music history dating back to the early 1900s. I was extremely excited to come to ClearView and Buena Vista, having worked and vacationed here since college summers, and I was also excited to get involved with the community music ensembles,” Chism says.

He was originally contacted in the spring of 2018 about directing the Collegiate Peaks Chorale, but at the time he took a pass on it as he focused on moving to a new town as a new worship pastor.

As it turned out, some members of the chorale also attended ClearView, and they reintroduced the opportunity to him.

“I believe that community ensembles have a unique position in our broken world; they represent rare opportunities for men and women of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds to come together in a common purpose: Creating something beautiful with our musical gifts and abilities to enrich our society and local community,” Chism explains.

His time at The Moody Church helped his childhood love for choral music to grow, and he is exceedingly grateful and humbled to continue that passion in BV.

“In my undergrad studies, one of my favorite professors and directors, Dr. Gerald Edmonds, often said as it relates to music performance, ‘Interesting is easy; beautiful is hard.’ A musician can present something that is enjoyable, well-performed, and when all is said and done, interesting. However, to create and present something of beauty and which inspires a deep emotional response from the listener requires a more significant commitment and sense of vulnerability from the performer. Dr. Edmonds’ words have always inspired and challenged me to seek out that deeper sense of beauty in every piece, every phrase, every measure, and this takes hard work,” he says.

Chism looks forward to working on the chorale’s Christmas program, which will feature a diversity of genres and styles from around the world, and bringing it to audiences.

“Two pieces that I’m very excited to introduce in this program are an African piece called ‘Betelehemu,’ a celebration of the nativity story in Bethlehem with an exhilarating percussion line to accompany it, and a beautiful arrangement of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ by Dan Forrest with a soft jazz influence incorporating strings and soprano saxophone,” he says.

Several members from the valley will be included in this concert, as well as some members of the Alpine Orchestra. The program will be themed “Peace on Earth” in hopes that it will bring peace and reflection to the audience through music.

Chism will also be working the CPC board to develop concepts for the spring concert, for which he has already come up with some fun ideas to be revealed later.

Creating these programs is always a challenge, he says, with the many aspects to consider such as stage logistics, musical flow with varying genres, singer stamina, program length and much more. But during that process, Chism gets to enjoy seeing the choir progress from slowly working their way through learning a new piece of music to becoming fully and emotionally engaged with it and hearing for themselves the true strength of their ensemble.

“That ‘goosebump effect’ is felt not only by the audience, but by the performers as well when all the work has paid off to truly create something beautiful. It is a remarkable thing to be a part of when those moments happen,” Chism says.

In all of this, Chism hopes to bring to the ensemble a balance of energy and fun, and a solid vocal training in choral technique. He also aspires to bring his experiences training in bassoon performance with world-renowned musicians in Chicago during his undergrad studies to benefit the chorale.

“The choral world is a deep well from which we are able to draw, and I hope to bring some of that history and excellence to the CPC while still making sure we’re all having fun!” he says.

Chism sees a significant potential for collaborative efforts, both in the valley and beyond, and he hopes to see that potential come to fruition in the ensembles and performers throughout the region and even the state.

“Last year when my wife and I moved to Buena Vista, I was not sure what I would find here in the valley in terms of interest in the performing arts. I was very pleasantly surprised to find not only interest, but a plethora of musicians with impressive backgrounds living here. This is a unique collection of small towns with very gifted people!” he adds.

The first Collegiate Peaks Chorale rehearsal is set for 6:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at the Congregational Church of Christ, 217 Crossman Ave. in Buena Vista. A music packet may be picked up between 6 and 6:30.

The Monday rehearsals to follow will be in preparation for the Christmas program and will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Both men and women are welcome, and no audition is required.

Membership costs are $30 for individuals and $40 for couples or families.

Concerts will take place Friday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. at Mountain Heights Baptist Church, 28390 CR 317 in Buena Vista; Saturday, Dec. 14, 3 p.m. at Mountain Heights Baptist Church and Sunday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 7 Poncha Blvd. in Salida.

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