About three years ago, Dankers got a call from Katie Schmidt, the music teacher at Coal Ridge Middle School and High School, in New Castle. Schmidt wanted Dankers, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in choral music, to give her students a clinic in preparation for a festival. Dankers accepted, but with further plans in mind. One day, sitting with Schmidt at a brew pub in Glenwood Springs, the two floated ideas for a local children’s choir, and Dankers realized he had the accomplice he needed.
“She got really excited. She became the driving force,” Dankers recalled. She said, ‘I REALLY want to do this.’ But working with a children’s choir is not something you can do singlehandedly; it take more than just me. She decided to go for it.”
Schmidt brought in another Katie —Katie Hone Wiltgen, the choir director at the Basalt Middle School. The three began envisioning — “just dreaming about what we wanted, how the rehearsals would look, what would be important to us,” Dankers said.
They came up with a clever name — Maroon Bel Canto Children’s Choir — and in 2008 began training and putting on concerts at the Snowmass Chapel. A year later, the group got another key collaborator — the Aspen Music Festival and School, which is giving financial and marketing support. “That was a big deal for us,” Dankers said.