Manson Meridian Singers board announces new director

MANSON — The Manson Meridian Singers board is pleased to announce that Mary Jo Laupp has accepted the director position for the 2019-2020 season, with Trish Mernka serving as the new accompanist.

Laupp comes to the group with an extensive musical background.

A Michigan native, she moved to the Fort Dodge area in 2009. She is currently the staff accompanist for the Fort Dodge Senior High choir department, and has served as the theatrical director for the spring musical since 2010. Most recently, she added color guard coach to her duties.

While living in Fort Dodge, Laupp has been involved with a variety of performing arts organizations, including Sonshine Singers (choir member), Stage Door Productions (performer and director), Comedia Musica Players (performer and music director), Hawkeye Community Theatre (performer and director), and Iowa Central Community College (pit musician for spring musical).

Prior to moving to Fort Dodge, Laupp served as the choir director for Orchard View Middle and High Schools in Muskegon, Michigan, and also taught all music classes and choirs, K-12, while on staff at Erie Christian Academy in Erie, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Onsted High School in Onsted, Michigan, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Education degree from Grand Rapids Baptist College.

Laupp said she is excited to have the opportunity to serve as the Meridians’ director.

“Being a part of a musical ensemble has a powerful impact on the individual,” said Laupp. “I’m looking forward to getting to know this group of singers and creating musical memories with them.”

Laupp lives in Fort Dodge with her husband, Jim. They have four grown children: Esther Laupp, Margaret Laupp, Janessa Hendrix, and Jay Laupp, and two granddaughters.

Mernka, of Rockwell City, has been involved with music from a young age, including band, choir, jazz band, and accompanying choral music during her school years. She also performed many years at state solo contests. She went on to study piano at Northwest Missouri State and later continued private lessons at Iowa State University.

Currently, she is an accompanist for the South Central Calhoun school district, where she plays for state solo/ensemble contests and concerts.

Of her new role with the Meridians, Mernka said, “The piano has been a vital and special part of my life, and I look forward to making great music with a fun new group of friends.”

Mernka lives in Rockwell City with her husband, Joe, and sons, Chance, a freshman, and Wyatt, a sixth-grader, at South Central Calhoun.