Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Here We Come a'Caroling

Friends and interested carolers,

Itasca Community Chorus has been invited to sing at several downtown businesses the evening of Dec. 4.  In the past this has been a good night for bonding with the community as we invite them to sing a long. 

Stay tuned for more details from Sam. . . .

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Singing with Sam

“Singing with Sam,” “Singing with people who can really sing, singing good music, and singing it well.”  These were some of the responses offered to what Director Sam Evans and Itasca Community Chorus is doing well.  Saturday, September 12 about fifty members of Itasca Community Chorus convened at Zion Lutheran Church for a full day of rehearsals and community building.  The 60-member choir is in full rehearsal for its first concert of the season Oct. 30 7:00 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids.  
Throughout the day Sam Evans, Concordia music graduate and intern to Rene Clausen, conducted an intense and fruitful full choir rehearsal interspersed with sectionals lead by Susan Loeffler and  Susan Hoolihan  (sopranos),  Lenora Evans and Darcy Reich (altos); Sam Evans & Stuart Boehr (tenors), and Phil Kneeland and Kathy Goodwin (basses). 
The Itasca Choral Society Board had contracted with Kathy Allen and Lisa Randall to do community building activities with the choir mid-morning and afternoon.   That increased the sense of how much these choir members value each other and the opportunity to sing with Sam.  Among other challenges was the task of having all singers stand on two tarps and turn them over without ever coming in contact with the pavement.  Lunch replete with luscious pie, build-it-yourself sandwiches, and salads was catered by NaNa Chells
Membership in Itasca Community Chorus is closed for now but will reopen in January.  For more information contact   Membership in the Messiah Choir slated for Dec. 13th is now open, so start practicing now with one of the collaborating church choirs from Community Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church or Zion Lutheran Church for the mass Messiah Choir Dec. 13th.

Members left singing “How Can I Keep from Singing,” “ Shenandoah,” “Danny Boy,” “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord,” “Swinging with the Saints,”  and other spirituals practiced throughout the day. Singing with Sam is good work and a lot of fun, so plan to join us Oct. 30 at 7:00 pm at the United Methodist Church.  

The activity was funded in part by an Action Team grant from Thrivent Financial. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On Fire . . .

Last night Sam Evans burned blue throughout a two-hour rehearsal.  Inspired by the music and the new season, Sam promised to jump, dance, do whatever it takes to pull together a the volunteer choir of 50 plus voices.  Leading off with Keith Hampton's "Praise His Holy Name,"  Sam kept the attention and the choir tuned through his whole-hearted commitment to making beautiful music.

A 2011 graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Sam brought us the best of his experience under Rene Clausen in addition to his own continuous music education.  To set the tone after a 10-minute break, Sam modeled a "Glad to Meet You" feature that allows a member to step up and introduce him/herself weekly. 

Among the new members is Allison, a music teacher and former member of the Northern Lights Chorale who has just moved into the community.  Allison her husband are expecting their first child in October, but she came because she needs to sing.  Deena Skaja came, too and was assured that Itasca Community Chorus is a "community plus one" organization where we welcome each singer who wants to help us harmonize.  If one section looks too large, we'll adapt. 

We are as always looking for more tenors and basses.  Last evening the choir thrilled when Len Hedman hit those low notes and listened with appreciation when Mary Ann Bartos switched to tenor to help with the high notes. 

Kathy Goodwin indicated that "Danny Boy" brought her close to tears as did "Over the Rainbow."
In this season's repertoire are Moses Hogan's "My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord,"  James Erb's "Shenandoah," and Z. Randall Stroop's "How Can I Keep from Singing."  The chorus left last night after a resonant  "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." 

This morning Sam has emailed all members utube recordings of several of the numbers to keep us singing throughout the week. 

As always, each member contributes so much to the choir weekly and there's so much to learn from each other, that Itasca Community Chorus asks that all members make music and attendance a priority.  The season is short, the Sept. 12 retreat is coming up shortly, and the Oct. 30th concert is just week's away, too so let's all keep the fire burning. 

Reach Sam at

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Season/New Direction

Itasca Community Chorus is gearing up for another phenomenal season under the direction of Sam Evans and accompanist Stuart Boehr.  The choir rehearses Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids.  This choir open to all, and singers are encouraged to make as many rehearsals as possible. 

Sam Evans conscientiously rehearses the ensemble so that by concert time, those who attend regularly can feel confident of the music.  Sectionals are held as needed and this year Sam's asking that at least a couple of the numbers be memorized. 

The plan for the Oct. 30, 2015 program at the United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids centers around newer arrangements of the old spirituals.The Choir will be singing 8 or 9 numbers and numerous solo, duet, and small ensemble opportunities are available.

In the repertoire are numbers from well-known arrangers like Mark Hayes, Moses Hogan, and William Dawson.  From "My Soul's Anchor" through "Ezekiel's Wheel" to "Over the Rainbow," the program promises to keep us asking "How Can I Keep from Singing." 

The Itasca Choral Society Board has moved the concert date up so that a number of our loyal snowbirds can participate.  Rehearsal begins Sept. 1.  A workshop will be held at Zion Lutheran Church, Saturday, September 12 from 9:00 to 3:00 to afford the choir a jumpstart on a short semester.  The Choir will intermix a lot of good singing and woodshedding with social activities and a catered noon meal.  Email Sam at to reserve your spot.

Note the early start date and please do join us Tuesday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids for a fun-filled season of making beautiful music with Itasca Community Chorus.


Monday, April 27, 2015

We Did It! And We Sang It Phenomenally Well!

    Yes, Sunday afternoon you missed it!  In Greenway Auditorium under full lights and in competition with that sunny weather, Itasca Community Chorus sang to a small, but appreciative audience.  Never have the strings, piano and chorus meshed so beautifully as when they sang "Word over all:  beautiful as the sky that WAR MUST IN TIME BE UTTERLY LOST."  Taken from Walt Whitman's poetry as well as biblical scripture and set to music but Ralph Vaughen Williams,  audience members could hear the "beat, beat drums; blow bugles blow" approaching.  The chorus agonized back, "Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?" 
    Baritone Loren Squires and soprano Susan Loeffler held chorus and audience alike in their thrall as they projected their grief over the loss of life and their petition for peace Dona Nobis Pacem. Complemented by a four-string orchestra and a pianist par excellence, chorus members left the concert asking if we might do this again in three or four years.  As one newer member said, "So many in the audience have never heard anything like this." 
    The power point of the Carnegie Tour to New York City at intermission was almost anti-climactic, and though the chorus sang the Broadway tunes with heart and energy, I for one was still singing from the Pacem "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men."
    That's it for Itasca Community Chorus until the Tuesday after Labor Day.  Chorus members, their friends, and family are invited to Zorbaz tomorrow evening for a time to socialize and celebrate. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sunday at Greenway Audtorium 4:00 pm

We've rehearsed and rehearsed so please join us for the concert.  You'll hear Dona Nobis Pacem, enjoy our small orchestra as it carries us through 38 minutes of unbelievably rich text and composition that addresses war, moves us toward reconciliation, and ends on the soprano's haunting plea for peace.  Soloists Loren Squires, baritone, and soprano Susan Loeffler sing like professionals.  Our orchestra is second to none and the choir itself has grown since that stellar spring concert last spring that launched our grand tour to Carnegie Hall in New York City.  At intermission we hope to share some of our best slides of our New York City time and we'd love to visit with you during the reception that follows the concert.  Tickets are free to children and veterans and only $10 for adults.  See you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We're Back and Ready to Deliver. . .

The Carnegie Tour contingent is back and ready for an intense rehearsal with Director Sam Evans and the orchestra this evening.

Sunday at 4:00 in Greenway Auditorium the entire choir brings you New York New York, a concert of prayerful petition throughout Dona Nobis Pacem, Ralph Vaughen William's cantata, followed by the inspiring songs of Broadway.

Tickets (available at the door) are only $10 with complementary tickets to students and veterans, courtesy of a Lake Country Power Operation RoundUp grant.