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Bemidji Chorale concert looks back to previous years

The Bemidji Chorale under the direction of Pat Mason rehearses for the concert to be performed at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at First Lutheran Church. Submitted Photo

The upcoming Bemidji Chorale concert will include some youngsters from the First Lutheran Church choir, a Bemidji State University music student, bell choir and a new piece by Paul Brandvik.

Pat Mason and Wayne Hoff have combined their musical talents in directing and accompanying the concert, which will begin at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at First Lutheran Church, 900 Bemidji Ave.

The annual choral concert, which was started more than 30 years ago by a group of semi-professional and professional singers and music teachers from the Bemidji area, still has some of its original members, including director Pat Mason. Mason said this concert harkens back to previous years when youngsters from local church choirs would be on the program. This year, when Iseler's "Away in the Manger" was chosen, Mason went to the children's choir at First Lutheran and held an audition for the piece.

"There were many good voices," said Mason. "It was hard to choose, and in the end, by coincidence, I chose twins."

The youngsters Halle Fodness, Lauryn and Vanessa Petrich received their music scores and lyrics and have been practicing in anticipation of joining the chorale at the dress rehearsal. It will be the first time the youngsters and the chorale will perform together.

Gretchen Rausch, who plays the oboe for the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, will be featured in Howard Helvey's "See Amid the Winter's Snow," and BSU violin student, Mallory Pynn, was chosen to accompany the new Branvik composition, "I Pray You be Merry."

"Paul wrote this piece for us," Mason said. "It is written in the style of his Madrigals."

Select members of the First Lutheran Bell Choir will join the chorale in a double choir piece, "Winter Solstice Carol" by Beckstrand. And this is just a sample of the variety of choral literature on the program.

"I pick the pieces so that anyone who goes out the concert can say, 'Ya, this is what I like,'" said Mason.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted by the chorale to support their concert activities. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota Nov. 4, 2008.