Every week, Bill Jacobsen, 89, drives up to Sun Valley from Twin Falls. He makes this roughly 100-minute drive—which usually takes longer on the way up than on the way home, as he fights the 4-5 p.m. rush hour traffic—to make the evening rehearsals of the Caritas Chorale.
“It’s a long way to come,” he said, “but it’s worth it.”
For years, he had made the trek only occasionally to see his son, a Wood River Valley resident, perform with the Chorale, until, finally, his son asked him, “Dad, why don’t you join us?”
The community singing group originated in 2000 and instantly distinguished itself from other local choir ensembles with one distinct difference: The Chorale requires no auditions. Anyone of any age and any level of experience can join.
By removing the audition process, the Chorale creates a calmer, more inclusive atmosphere for singers.
“I sing second tenor with my son,” Jacobsen said. “I was nervous at first, because I hadn’t sung in years, but I’m getting back into the groove. It’s a very open and enjoyable bunch. There’s not a lot pressure.”
Jacobsen is one of more than 50 vocalists who rehearse and perform under the guidance of Musical Director R.L. Rowsey.
Together, they are now preparing for their annual summer concert, titled “A Day of Hope and Light.”
“This is going to be a fun concert,” tenor Dean Cerutti said. “It’s lighter than a lot of the stuff Caritas does, with songs that a lot of people will instantly recognize.”
The adult vocal ensemble will be joined by two additional singing groups—both of which are also directed by R.L. Rowsey—The B-Tones, an a cappella group composed of 26 male high school singers and Enchante, a 19-voice high school girls group with musical accompaniment.
Though the members of Caritas Chorale come from varied musical backgrounds, they all seem to have two things in common. First, they love to sing. Second, they all sang high praises of their director, R.L. Rowsey.
“He’s really something,” Jacobsen said. “It’s just a special experience to listen to his direction. He’s extremely enjoyable and helpful.”
Peggy Striegel, a Caritas board member and singer, described Rowsey as “the best conductor [she’d] ever had.”
The concert will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, at Wood River High School in Hailey. In keeping with its mission to bring music to everyone, Caritas Chorale presents “A Day of Hope and Light” free of charge. Music lovers of all ages are invited to come and help Caritas welcome in the summer season.
For more information on the ensemble, visit caritas.org. Rehearsals are usually held at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church on Sun Valley Road. Anyone is welcome to join without an audition. The only requirement is an enthusiasm for singing.