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Chorus prepares its first springtime concert


A choir concert this weekend promises to be less traditional than previous performances, the director said.

The Montana State University-Northern College/Community Chorus will perform a spring concert this weekend. The show will begin Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Havre High School auditorium. Admission is free, but nonperishable items for the North Havre Community Services Food Bank are encouraged.

The chorus, which consists of about 50 local singers and college students, has never performed a spring show, said concert director Jan Wiberg, the professor of music at MSU-Northern.

Because of the time commitment involved, the chorus normally does just one performance a year, she said.

"In the past, we've done a fall show," she said, "normally with a Christmas theme. This show will be a little lighter - kind of an Americana theme."

After the concert last fall, interest from participating singers was high enough to plan a spring concert, Wiberg said. This year will mark the first time in its five-year hisory that the community chorus has performed a second show, she said.

The concert includes eight songs performed by the chorus, as well as appearances by other local musicians. Selections include "Waters Ripple and Flow" and "May Day Carol," arranged by Deems Taylor, "Aura Lee" by William D. Hall and "Long, Long Ago" by Joyce Eilers.

The Bear Paw Piano Quartet, Havre High School band director Ron Coons and Chinook High School student Aaron Hayes are among those scheduled to play on Sunday. Coons will perform a saxophone solo and Hayes will play an award-winning song on the French horn.

Wiberg described the program as "some American folk songs and other arrangements by American composers." The concert will close with "The Song of Democracy" by Howard Hanson.

Wiberg, a teacher at MSU-Northern for 24 years, said she considered a number of factors when selecting the songs. The ability of voices within the group, the available sheet music, and input from the singers all played a part in her selections, she added.

The chorus was expanded to include singers from the community five years ago, Wiberg said. Prior to that, the group was made up exclusively of college students. Community members now outnumber students by 4-to-1.

"Without the community, we would have a pretty small chorus," she joked.

Wiberg said she expanded the chorus to demonstrate to her students that music is a lifelong activity.

"Our administration encourages us to get the community involved," she said. "I wanted to stress to the students that music is a lifetime sport. It doesn't end when you're done with college. It is something you can enjoy your entire life. Look at all the people that come out to do it."

The director said her students are enthusiastic about performing.

"The students participate because they enjoy it," she said. "They've done it before and they want to do it again."

The chorus has met for two hours once a week since January to prepare for this weekend, Wiberg said.

The concert is a great finish to the hard work, but the practices provide the real reward, she added.

"The journey itself is the goal," she said. "The preparation is what makes this so special. We work hard and have fun."

Anyone with questions about the concert or who is interested in joining the chorus should contact Dena Tippets at 265-2585.


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