The Singing Friends Chorus presents a series of three Christmas concerts in area communities in December.
The first performance is Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Church of Peace (424 Franklin Street North) in Norwood Young America. The second concert is Saturday, Dec. 8 at St. Mark Lutheran Church (211 Adams Avenue South) in New Germany. The third singing event is Sunday, Dec. 9 at First Congregational United Church of Christ (1400 Elliott Avenue North) in Glencoe. All concerts begin at 2 p.m.
The Singing Friends are also featured as part of “Stille Nacht,” the German-language Christmas Service held on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 10:30 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church (101 SE Second Avenue) in Norwood Young America. This special German Worship Service is broadcast live on radio station KDUZ, 1260-AM, Hutchinson.
The SATB singing ensemble has 32 singers and performs in Carver, McLeod, Sibley, and surrounding counties. Chorus singers are from Cokato, Cologne, Glencoe, Green Isle, Hamburg, New Germany, Norwood Young America, Waconia, Watertown, and Winsted.
Members range in age from their 30s to their 80s — and come from many walks of life.
Local members who sing with the chorus include, from Norwood Young America: Juliene Klaustermeier, Bev Mellgren, Sheila Munsterteiger, Kris Rademacher, and Roger Sauerbrey; from Cologne: Patty Zellman; from Green Isle: Rollin Stoeckman; from Hamburg: Diane Hoffman and Margaret Stoeckmann; from New Germany: Franklin Schoenke and Earl Wendorf; from Watertown: Gladys Bartels.
The Chorus is directed by Karen de Boer of Glencoe and accompanied by Carrie Knott of Winsted. The choir presents two annual singing events: Spring musical shows in April and Christmas concerts in December. The Singing Friends also entertain at senior centers, local churches, nursing homes, and civic and community events. They sing a wide range of musical compositions, including patriotic numbers, world music, Broadway musicals, classical choral music, spirituals, folk songs, and popular tunes from all different eras.
This past spring, de Boer was awarded a Minnesota scholarship to attend the annual Chorus America Conference, which was held in Minneapolis. Chorus America is a national organization that promotes choirs and choral music. In addition to guest speakers, musical workshops, and conducting master classes, de Boer heard many great musicians and choral groups, including VocalEssence, Cantus, the Minnesota Chorale, the National Lutheran Choir, and the Rose Ensemble.
It was at the Chorus America Conference that de Boer met Minnesota composer Roger Towler of Sauk Rapids. She was introduced to Towler’s Christmas work, “Sing Alleluia.” The choral number, which combines dancelike rhythms and a jubilant text, is featured in the Christmas concerts. The Singing Friends Chorus performs this Christmas composition, which also includes a French horn solo.
In addition to the Towler piece, highlights of the December concerts include Peter Willhousky’s Russian-tinged favorite, Carol of the Bells; Benjamin Britten’s haunting double-choir work, A Hymn to the Virgin; along with two well-known Christmas songs, Mele Kalikimaka and White Christmas — and a rousing arrangement of Deck the Halls. At the end of the concert, the audience joins the Chorus to sing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Angels We have Heard on High.
For the December German Christmas Service, the Singing Friends Chorus performs prelude music and several musical numbers during Worship. Some of these include: “Joseph! Was da?,” “Maria durch ein Dornwald ging,” and “Leise Rieselt der Schnee.”
The Singing Friends Chorus believes that choral singing should be a joyous happening. It should not be limited to people of a certain age or level of musical training. The Chorus experience is captured by one of the group’s favorite pieces, “How Can I Keep From Singing,” which has become a signature song for the Choir.
During the December Christmas performances, a free-will offering is taken.
Money goes toward the purchase of new concert music and to defray other Chorus expenses. After each concert is over, dessert and coffee/juice is served.
For more information or to volunteer to sing in the Chorus, contact the Singing Friends Director, Karen de Boer, at (320) 864-2742.