Longtime Sun Lakes Chorale Musical Director Steps Down

Cris Templeton-Evans

Yvonne Orlich

She might be small in stature, and she speaks softly and kindly, but she leaves big shoes to fill. Cris Templeton-Evans has directed the Sun Lakes Chorale for 13 years, and after the 2024 Spring Concert, Cris informed the membership that she was stepping down from that position. She wisely did not tell us in advance, as many of us would have struggled to perform.

The March 14 concert was quite possibly one of the best we have ever performed. The pre-concert rehearsal went extremely well, and there was an unusual air of confidence and lightheartedness. Was it karma? Was this our best farewell gift to our admired and respected director? Many of us choose to believe so. What better send-off could we have given than to give our very best for what was Cris’ last performance?

Cris’ musical selections for this concert were varied, even including some dancing by Sheryl Katz and Manny Hernando (the dance dummy) and puppets. The energy throughout the concert was high, and it projected to the audience and was eagerly received. Hopefully, there will be many more concerts to write about in the future, but this space will be dedicated to the wonder of Cris Evans. Enough cannot be said about Cris, and the 500 words allowed here is not enough space to shower her with the praise she so deserves.

Cris always, always directed us with compassion and warmth. Her mantra was, “When you are singing, whatever it is, tell your story.” Her goal was to make you, the singer, reach deep into your heart and soul, because she believes if you don’t sing from your heart, the audience won’t hear you. She elevated the ordinary song to new heights, and she taught appreciation and confidence to sing the difficult. Her knowledge of music, choral music in particular, is stellar. Her humility is a trait not always found in musicians of her position and skill. Her sense of humor was enjoyable and always well-timed. She can read her singers, and she uses that ability to mold their music into something very special. While she knows their limitations as a group, she taught us to reach beyond what we felt we were capable of doing. In a word, she is amazing!

Cris leaves a void that some will find difficult to overcome, but in her ever-present humility, she believes we can replace her. Well, maybe we can, and in fairness to whomever we select to take up the baton, we will. But in reality, there is no replacement for Cris. She is unique.

The concert closed with “Why We Sing,” a perfect closing for us. In large part, Cris Templeton-Evans was why we sang. Music lives on, and we will sing again. Cris would be the first to tell us we must. We will not forget her and will miss her, but we wish her nothing but the very best always. Thank you, Cris.