Choir in the mountains
The WMPAC will host an exciting weekend of outdoor concerts with performances from a nationally recognized choir
The performances are back. After the James Sewell Ballet performance was cancelled last week due to COVID-19, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC) will be holding one of their first big events of the summer. On July 30-31, the world-renowned choir group, “The Crossing” will be coming to Big Sky for multiple exciting performances.
“The Crossing” is a popular choir group of 33 members based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to “The Crossing’s website. They focus on more of a new, contemporary and nontraditional style of music. Warren Miller Performing Arts Center Communications Manager Rikka Wommack states that they are not your normal church choir. “A lot of times when we think about choirs, we think of church hymns. This is not that,” Wommack said.
“The Crossing” has received national attention over the past few years. The New York Times called “The Crossing”, “America’s Most Astonishing Choir”. On top of that, in both 2018 and 2019, the groups received the “Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance”. They have also been nominated for six total Grammys in the past few years, according to “The Crossing’s” website. “For the type of music they produce they are very well known,” Warren Miller Performing Arts Center Communications Manager Rikka Wommack said.
The world renowned choir has been coming to Montana for a few weeks each summer for the past couple of years. In fact, the WMPAC has allowed the group to use their space as a studio throughout those years. However, this year will mark the group’s first performances in our community.
The first performance of the weekend will start on Friday at the Jack Creek Preserve. Friday night’s event will be a very unique experience for the audience. Each member from “The Crossing” will be equipped with backpack speakers called “E.C.H.O.E.S.”, which are “battery-operated and highly mobile amplification system,” according to a WMPAC press release. These devices allow the members of the choir to be heard through the speakers and keep time with one another, even though they will be spread out. Each member from the group will be spread out across the trail on the reserve singing the same songs with one another. The audience will walk through the trail and the performance at their own pace. Sometimes the audience will hear multiple members of the choir at once and other times they will hear little to no music at all. The length of the performance will depend on the speed at which the audience walks, however the group plans to sing for about an hour.
Wommack states that this concert is incredibly unique. In fact, this will be the first time that the two-time Grammy winners will be using the E.C.H.O.E.S. and performing in this type of environment. “This will definitely not be your normal sitting and listening type of choir concert,” Wommack said.
The weekend will continue on Saturday with another performance from “The Crossing” at the Cache Creek Reserve. The reserve is up Moose Creek road off of Highway 191. This event will be more of a formal concert than Friday’s event, however it will still be unique. Viewers will park at the reserve and walk roughly ten minutes down an old logging road to reach the natural “auditorium”. “The Crossing” will be spread throughout an open meadow to perform the outdoor concert. The audience is encouraged to bring blankets or chairs to sit and enjoy. The group is planning to perform three unique pieces on Saturday night.
The inspiration for this weekend came after an event the WMPAC held this past winter. A piano concert was held on the Big Sky Golf Course during December. This event allowed cross-country skiers, snowshoers and hikers alike to enjoy an outdoor performance while socially distancing. The event was a huge success and was able to combine the beautiful landscape of Big Sky with an outstanding piano performance. Ever since that event, the WMPAC team has been trying to recreate that same atmosphere. “We have been thinking about how we can have more experiences like that,” Wommack said.
The WMPAC team hopes to create that same atmosphere this weekend with the performances from “The Crossing”. If you are interested in attending either of the outdoor concerts, visit https://warrenmillerpac.org/ event/the-crossing-3/.