20 years of Sunday morning choral music as the legacy continues

When: Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Tune in Sundays through December 17 to celebrate 20 years of choral music Sunday mornings on CPR Classical!

For the complete Sound of the Season schedule, check out your Sound of the Season guide!

By Monika Vischer

It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since Sacred Classics first hit the airwaves on CPR Classical. The show has been called Sing! since 2019 but the inspirational music hasn’t changed. If you’re a long time Sunday morning listener, then we’re kindred spirits.

A few of us on the CPR Classical team knew the show's creator, Mark Sheldon, who started the program in November, 2003 after months of planning. He only hosted the first couple of weeks before succumbing to cancer on December 9, 2003. Through December 17 of this year, we are broadcasting those first programs he prepared. His legacy also continues within the Denver choral community by way of the yearlong Mark Sheldon Conducting Internship honoring his work as a onetime singer and assistant conductor of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir. This season, SMCC is mentoring their 19th intern. He'd be proud of the continuing broadcasts and internship.

How appropriate that another passionate music educator and conductor became the longest running host of the show from 2008 to 2019 - David Rutherford, who has deep Colorado roots. David introduced many new works to listeners as a calming guide and accompaniment to the music. He shared with me for this 20th anniversary that one of his fondest memories during that time was the community connection. “I heard from so many people that it was the one listening appointment they always kept because the music was so meaningful to them.”

Now, I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome our new host, Patty Painter-Wakefield. She brings such rich experience in classical music as a radio host, musicologist and musician. The show is in great hands to carry on the tradition.

By Patty Painter-Wakefield

I’m thrilled to be taking over Sing! because choral music is something I’m drawn to as a kind of medicine for the soul. Even though I followed instrumental music (French horn) and book learning (music history) in school, singing is something that I’m drawn to as a soul-enriching hobby. I have fond memories from 5th grade when I sang 2-part songs in an honor choir at school. I still remember many of those songs – both parts! Touring with choir in college, writing music for a small church congregation to sing, and being a part of community choirs over the years have brought me great joy.

Those holiday programs from 2003 that I’m highlighting Sunday mornings over the next few weeks include stunning masterworks and performers. And yet, there’s now a new generation of composers like Caroline Shaw and Jake Runestad and ensembles like Voces8 and The Aeolians. They represent a much broader sound in choral music that I’m excited to share with you.

Discover the seminal role of Black Spirituals through Journey to Freedom: The Spirituals Radio Project, a collaboration with M. Roger Holland, II, culminating in a 2022 live performance with the Spirituals Project Choir at the Newman Center: Journey to Freedom: Building Community Through Song.

Your favorite choral music and beyond

Hear CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website, or download the Colorado Public Radio app. Listen on your radio to CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado. You can also tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."