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Beth Livingston-Hakes: Remembering Chorale Christmases Past, Part 2

Beth Livingston-Hakes (center) sang with the Phoenix Bach and Madrigal Society and Phoenix Bach Choir from 1982-2006. Here she is with Chorale co-founders Hal and Timona Pittman

Our celebration of our Alumni Singers and Chorale holiday memories continues with Beth Livingston-Hakes. Beth sang with the Phoenix Bach and Madrigal Society and Phoenix Bach Choir from 1982-2006. Not only did Beth offer really moving reflections about her time with the Choir but she also opened up her photo vault and shared a few amazing photos from “back in the day.”

Do you have a favorite memory of or feeling associated with singing with the Chorale during the holidays?

My most memorable and amazingly profound singing experience was very unexpected.  I don’t know what year it was, but we traveled on a bus to Globe/Superior to perform a concert for the town, in a church there.  … We always had fun laughing, sharing stories and spending social time together, and the drive was relaxing and fun.  When we arrived we were led into the church basement for an lovingly prepared spaghetti dinner, serve by the church members at long tables.  We thanked them afterwards and went upstairs to change into our gowns and tuxes, combing hair and the ladies putting on their red lipstick and jewelry.

Beth with Kay Wiley, Cassandra Ewen, and Tracy Peterson at Carnegie Hall.

We entered to applause, took our places and began to sing, Charles directing with sensitivity, of course.  As the concert proceeded, and we had moments to look out at people, I saw so many in tears and utterly enrapt, from children to octegenarians.  We singers were inspired to give the concert of a lifetime. To move listeners to weep with joy and connection is the ultimate reason we sing, and why we know that good music touches us all, wherever we are.

Another time I was personally moved to tears was in Vancouver, singing with Jon Washburn, doing all 6 Bach Motets in one concert.  We had done it once before at St. Thomas, with Dan Durant, but  performing in a stunning venue in Vancouver, it hit me mid-concert that I was a part of an experience that so few people in this world have done and could do:  sing all of Bach’s masterpiece motets altogether.

Beth with Joy Lubeck, David Lubeck, and Ola Gjeilo at the premiere of an original piece dedicated to Joy’s father.

One fan of the Chorale said, “It isn’t Christmas until you’ve heard the Phoenix Chorale sing!” Why do you think the Chorale is such an important part of people’s holiday season here in the Valley?

I think we give the audience a Christmas memory that is both festive and spiritual, no matter their beliefs.  It is a time for community and celebration.

What do you think makes choral music and the Chorale in particular so unique?

Chorale music is so extraordinary because the singers have only their bodies to bring the sound to life.  We have no instrument to pound or bow or manipulate to make sound, and our instrument has to be healthy and well-trained.  We make music with our brains, hearts and souls as much as our mouths and bodies, and get to create amazing harmonies and words with our voices.


Meet The Chorale Challenge!

Help us continue to provide beautiful music in the Valley of the Sun by participating in the Chorale Challenge. This year, we challenge you to double your year-end gift.

We have secured $30,000 in matching funds – which will make your gift go even further. Yes! For every dollar you give, your gift will be matched.

Let’s meet the Challenge together.