Sensible Shoes has recently undergone a transformation. In the spring of 2015 the Women’s Chorus ensemble acquired four new members, blossoming from an octet to a duodecet (or a ‘twelvetet’ for those who prefer). This has enabled an already strong group to sound even stronger. And yes, with twelve members, Sensible Shoes can now beat up Captain Smartypants (merely nine members), although we hope that will not be necessary.
“Having twelve voices in Sensible Shoes has rounded out and deepened their sound considerably,” said group director Eric Lane Barnes. “I keep throwing new songs and new styles at them. They are knocking everything out of the park.”
One of these new songs is a setting of Schubert’s “Du Bist die Ruh,” a German arts song from 1823.
“We were a little skeptical at first,” said Laney Williams, a 2nd alto in the Shoes. “And when Eric said we would close our Festival set in Denver with the song we thought he might have lost his mind.”
But it worked.
“There’s this moment that happens after you sing a song beautifully when the audience doesn’t want to clap yet,” said Julie Armitage, a first soprano. “We totally had that ‘omg’ moment after our final note.”
Will Sensible Shoes be singing this German song in their appearance at The Triple Door in Girl Crazy?
“Probably,” said Barnes, “But we almost have too many songs to choose from.” Among the pieces slated for public delight are the Pentatonix arrangement of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal,” “The Caffeine Overload Polka” and a feminist cheerleading squad holding auditions. They will also be singing a number with their musical brothers, Captain Smartypants; the high-energy a cappella arrangement of “I’ve Got the Music in Me.” Barnes says “it more or less tears the roof off the house.”
It’s been a packed year for the ensemble. They performed several times during June’s GALA Choruses Festival in Denver, plus they joined forces with Captain Smartypants to sing with Patti LuPone last spring at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. “It was a thrill,” said new alto, Emily Tomkinson. “She has a reputation for being very demanding. But she was super sweet to all of us, and clearly enjoyed having a chorus to back her up.”
During Pride week the Shoes, along with other members of SWC and SMC, had the honor of performing the National Anthem at a Democratic fundraiser attended by President Obama and Governor Inslee. Add to that the countless outreach performances they do to represent our organization all over the city and you’ll understand why they need to wear sensible shoes. They’re busy.
This last year has also been a different kind of blossoming for members of the ensemble: Anne Johnson, Shannon Riddle and Heather Luberti all have new additions to their families. “The rumors that we are planning to repopulate the world after the impending zombie apocalypse are largely exaggerated,” said new mom, Shannon, “But we do have a head start.”