Manson Meridians ‘Unite in song’

New director joins Manson Meridian Singers in annual show

-Submitted photo
From left, front row Matt Weishaar, Ted George and Eli Netz; back row Mark Essing, Tom Smith, Dave George, Jeff Bohn and Roger Netz show off their more colorful costumes at a recent rehearsal of the Manson Meridian Singers. The Meridians will feature a “Disney Dazzle” set, opened by Ted George as Willy Wonka.

MANSON — Under new direction this year, the Manson Meridian Singers will invite young and old to “Unite in Song” in their 47th annual performance.

Lori Erkenbrack will be leading the choir this year, after 11 years as the Meridians’ accompanist.

“From the very first song, you can see or at least hear that I have chosen to take this show in a different direction,” Erkenbrack said. “We will have a 20-minute section of songs selected especially for the younger generation. ‘Disney Dazzle’ will be complete with songs and costumes that will lighten your spirits.

“The 47th show is going to be a very up-tempo production filled with songs for the young and the young at heart.”

When she met with the group’s board to talk about a theme for the year, Erkenbrack wanted something to focus on bringing people together.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss
The Manson Meridian Singers rehearse for their 47th annual show.

“My goal for my first show is to express the desperate need the world has for unity and peace by bringing the group and the audience together through song; thus, the theme ‘United in Song,'” she said. “We’re all united in song as the Meridians, and we want to share that with everyone else, and bring people together through song.”

The second half will begin with some jukebox favorites and will feature small groups, Erkenbrack said.

“We will strive to keep the Meridian tradition alive by including sacred songs and pay tribute to those who have served in our military,” she said.

Erkenbrack was asked by the board to be the director toward the end of July or the beginning of August, she said, and had a lot of work to do quickly.

“The board stepped up,” she said. “The board has really stepped in and helped, and made it work. They’ve been great. I couldn’t have done it without them.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss
Lori Erkenbrack directs the Manson Meridian Singers at a recent rehearsal. The group’s performance of “Unite in Song” is Saturday and Feb. 11 at the Manson Northwest Webster High School in Manson.

“I must admit,” she added, “that I don’t think anyone realizes how much work goes into a production like the Meridians until you have been on the other side of the baton. Even as an accompanist and singer, which I have been for 15 years, you don’t realize how much time it takes to secure personnel to help out with sound, lights, makeup, tickets, accompanying, besides the responsibility of choosing a theme for the show and selecting music.

“I would be terribly amiss if I didn’t acknowledge the respect I have for Jerry Jimmerson and the previous directors of the Meridians for all the work they have done to keep this marvelous tradition going in the Manson community.”

There will be new elements to the show this year. Erkenbrack said her daughter, Marae Erkenbrack, owns the D2X dance studio in Lake City, and one of her groups is going to come dance.

Lori Erkenbrack’s son, DJ Erkenbrack, will also come in and do a solo.

In future shows, there may be more guest performers, just for something different, Lori Erkenbrack said.

One of the songs that especially touches her from this year’s show is “Raise Your Voice,” from the Broadway version of “Sister Act.”

“‘The first rule of singing, get the rafters ringing,'” Erkenbrack said, quoting the song. “‘Toss everything in, dig down deep inside.’ It talks about putting everything you can into it. Don’t be shy. Let your soul rejoice. Sing your songs toward heaven.

“I like the tempo, I like the words. I liked — just talking about raising your voice. Expressing your thanks to God, and just singing, because that’s what we’re about.”

Manson Meridian Singers

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10; 2 p.m. Sunday,

Feb. 11.

WHERE: Kate Toben Auditorium at Manson Northwest Webster High School, Manson.

• Tickets are $10 for adults, and $7 for students.

• To order tickets,

call (712) 469-3116