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Bemidji musician to contribute to church Christmas program

From left are Sarah Carlson, Karissa Korbel and Parker Bruns in front of the drum set. They will perform during the Christmas program Sunday at First Lutheran Church. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

If Parker Bruns looks familiar, it's because you might have seen him pushing carts at Lueken's Village Foods North or at his job at Tutto Bene Restaurant in downtown Bemidji.

Bruns is a young man with Down syndrome, but that has not stopped him from trying to accomplish the many goals he has set for himself. Bruns has a wide range of people he knows and who know him as friendly fellow who is quick to shake hands or bump knuckles with "the guys."

Put another notch in Bruns' belt this Sunday as he plays percussion during the Christmas program at First Lutheran Church, Bemidji. Fulfilling a lifelong dream to be in a musical production, Bruns will be sitting beside Karissa Korbel as they play percussion instruments for "A Shepherd's Story," an original musical by Pam Andrews.

"I always wanted to do this. It is awesome," said Bruns as he sat in front of the drum set. "And I am also learning to play the harmonica."

When Sarah Carlson was assembling the players and singers for this pageant, she looked for help from Bemidji Chorale charter member Marilyn Gandrud, who is a retired elementary school teacher. Gandrud was a voice and education major in college and has the experience in singing and working with grade school children.

"I try to give individual attention to draw them out and get them to sing out loud," said Gandrud during a recent rehearsal for this upcoming concert.

The program is a production with the youth from Sunday school and the junior choir of First Lutheran, which features music from all genres including spiritual with solos by Julia Petrich, Kendra Caulfield and Lydia Ryan, a traditional French carol and a Latin solo by Gus and Mason Karvakko.

Carlson on piano, Karissa Korbel and Bruns on the drums, cymbals and harmonicas and Chris Richards on guitar accompany the ensemble of young singers during the 11 a. m. service at First Lutheran Church, 900 Bemidji Ave. N.