(COLORADO SPRINGS) —A small group of students filled the stage at Cheyenne Mountain High School (CMHS) who together make up the group Crimson and Slate. The a cappella group is practicing to be pitch-perfect ready for the 20th anniversary concert that will take place on March 3 at 7 p.m.
“So we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of Crimson and Slate and the a cappella program… and it is a true legacy,” Senior at CMHS, Sylvie Robinson, said. “And we want to honor and celebrate that as it has been a successful and amazing program for a long time that we all are lucky enough to be a part of.”
Students must audition to join the group and range from Sophomore to Senior year.
“They all have to be in our advanced chorale, so they’re all in our 60 Voice Chorale before they can audition for this, where they get all the fundamentals and build their skills before they’re here,” CMHS Director of Choral Activities, Dawn Wisdom, said.
Since the beginning days, Wisdom has overseen the program, and over the past 20 years, she has seen the program flourish.
“When we first started, everything was analog and we were on wired mikes and it was a very different feel,” Wisdom said. “Most groups just kind of stand and sing with the microphone instead of now, where it’s all the choreography and everything that’s Pitch Perfect.”
Previously there were separate a cappella groups at the school but the two combined together in 2017.
“For a long time, the groups performed separately,” Wisdom said. “There are usually six or seven girls in Crimson, six or seven guys in Slate, and in 2017 we decided to combine them for a supergroup of Crimson and Slate, and it’s been that ever since.”
To recognize the big milestone of 20 years of tunes, Wisdom invited alumni to join the stage for a celebratory concert.
“This is a perfect opportunity to see if they’ll come back,” Wisdom said. “They’re coming from both coasts and some that still live here, and I’m so excited to see them.”
Tickets for the concert on March 3 can be purchased online or at the door at CMHS.
Hallways leading to the auditorium are filled with photographs of past members of Crimson and Slate. Current Crimson and Slate member, Emma Lee, reflected on hanging up memorabilia and seeing past members of the group.
“And we were hanging up pictures yesterday. I was like, oh my gosh, like they were once like my age,” Lee said. “They were once in my shoes. They were doing everything I was doing, it’s so cool.”
Members both past and new share a deep bond in the harmony they find in each other’s voices.
“The reason why we all are so connected is because we’re going through it all together, the hard work and the determination and the art and the love of music,” Robinson said. “But so are all of these people that… are going to be here tomorrow.”
The group practices four days a week and has rehearsals to prepare for upcoming concerts.
“The dynamic is very uplifting and supportive and loving, if I were to choose three adjectives, that would be it,” said Lee. “But we also kind of know when to give each other a little bit of tough love because we all want the same end goal and it’s to be so successful with each other.”
The alumni concert is one of several exciting opportunities that the group has this year and a GoFundMe page was created to help raise funds for upcoming travels.
“We’re raising money for some of our travels that we have coming up this spring… we’re going to New York and performing with Deke Sharon, who’s the godfather of a cappella, the man,” Wisdom said.
Seniors Robinson and Lee, both have been in the school district since elementary school and have grown up watching Crimson and Slate. They are now living out their childhood dreams of joining the group and have found a music family.
“With all the opportunities that I didn’t even know that Crimson and Slate had until I was in the group,” Robinson said. “I mean, many of them are just dreamlike and surreal, you know, the audience and getting to create community with all these beautiful people who, you know, I call friends and family.”
After graduation, Lee will continue to follow her passion by studying music in college.
“I’ve always performed and I just believe singing is a lifelong skill that you can always improve on and I think that that’s what’s so beautiful about it,” Lee said. “So I will be studying voice in college and I’m just I’m so excited because, like I said, singing is just something I can do my whole life and always improve and learn new things.”
If you cannot attend the concert in-person it will also be livestreamed online.