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Bemidji Chorale performs tonight at BSU

If there is one thing that can be said about Bemidjians it is that they cherish the history of this town, from our Native American population, through the logger’s era, and into today’s sports, civic and musical productions based out of Bemidji State University and the community at large.

Patricia Mason, an alumna of BSU who majored in choral conducting and instrumental music (she plays a mean trumpet!), was one of the original founders of the Bemidji Chorale back in 1979 along with original conductor Lyle Jewell and noted following conductors such as Chris Fettig and Paul Brandvik, professor emeritus from BSU, and Sarah Aamodt. Mason took over as conductor in 1997, making her the longest-running conductor.

Although a semi-retired music art teacher, Mason is active in national and state music associations, including the Minnesota Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, in which she has held the position of Northwest Chair.  To honor her many contributions in the city of Bemidji, she was chosen as the 2012 Friends of the Arts from the Watermark Arts Center (formerly Bemidji Community Arts Center).

Today, Mason continues her vocation of choral conducting with tonight’s 7 p.m. 34th Annual Bemidji Chorale Spring Concert, with the traditional ice cream social following the conclusion of the concert in the Beaux Arts Ballroom of Hobson Memorial Hall on the campus of BSU.

As is tradition, there are no tickets to this event and free-will offerings will be accepted to support such concerts.

The program for this concert was chosen entirely by Chorale members of their favorites from the past 10 years. With the variety of literature, one will be taken back in time to a setting of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” which he composed for his 50th birthday celebration, as sung by his former wife, Sarah Brightman and choir boy Ben De’ath.

Chorale Member Josh Gunderson’s original piece, “Oh Stay My Love!” will be on the program along with a haunting rendition of an American folk song, “Shenandoah,” arranged by James Erg. There also will be a rousing piece sung by the men of the Chorale, “Do You Fear the Wind?”

“There is something for everyone!” as is promised by the conductor Mason, accompanied by the popular pianist Wayne Hoff. “Everyone is invited to celebrate the arrival of spring!”

As a side note on the program: The Bemidji Choral is looking for tenors for next year’s concerts. If interested, talk to Mason or leave a note for her with one of the members holding free-will baskets.

This activity is funded, in part by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment Vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 8, 2008.