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Manson group will ‘Sing On’

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Trish Mernka, of Rockwell City, accompanies the Manson Meridian Singers during a recent rehearsal in the Kate Toben Auditorium at Manson Northwest Webster High School. Mernka is in her first year accompanying for the group.

MANSON — This year, the Manson Meridian Singers wants to show audiences just how much of a role music plays in their everyday lives.

This year’s theme, Sing On, will touch on the versatility of music for every purpose — happy and sad — with a fresh perspective brought by Mary Jo Laupp, the 22-member group’s new director.

“We as a culture use music to process everything,” Laupp said. “The way I approached this performance was thinking about, in general, the effect of music on my life.”

Laupp said she found music that touches on every aspect of our lives — from grief and celebrations to children’s lullabies and comforting the ill. The variety of songs includes some in other languages like Hawaiian and Spanish.

The hour and a half show has been in the works since September, when rehearsals began. Laupp said singers are looking forward to performing together as they have for years.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
A small group performs “Sing” from Sesame Street at a Manson Meridian Singers rehearsal recently. From left are Leanne Wernimont, of Pomeroy; Kym Sutter, of Manson; Kim Porteous, of Twin Lakes; Tony Keller, of Rolfe; and Evan Dreessen, of Manson.

“They really enjoy putting this all together for the community,” she said.

“It’s just like a bunch of friends singing together,” said Shelly Block, an 19-year alto referred to as the group’s “lifetime treasurer” by other members.

Block said Laupp’s perspective has brought a refreshing take on a tradition that has become a favorite for Manson and the surrouding area.

“Mary Jo is very laid back and goes with the flow,” she said. “That’s just one thing I like about her.”

The production, in its 49th year, looks forward to a milestone anniversary next year.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
The Manson Meridian Singers rehearse for their upcoming show recently at Manson Northwest Webster High School. The group will present its 49th production Feb. 15 and 16 in the Kate Toben Auditorium at Manson Northwest Webster High School.

“That’s our goal, so we’ll see what happens,” Block chuckled.

The show’s namesake song uses symbolism with sunrises and sunsets to illustrate the idea of new beginnings and endings in life.

“The lyrics of the song go, ‘whatever comes your way,’ the idea being that you can use music to celebrate anything,” Laupp said.

While musicians and performers are keenly aware of how much purpose music has, Laupp said some people might not realize the every day use for music.

“When we take away music, we realize that we’re using it to process or prepare for what to expect,” she said, similarly to how movies set music to scenes.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Mary Jo Laupp directs the Manson Meridian Singers during a recent rehearsal at Manson Northwest Webster High School. Laupp, of Fort Dodge, is the new director for the Meridians this year.

Even the songs in other languages this year will be understood by audiences without a translation by the emotion that is conveyed through song.

“It’s a reminder that music is universal,” she said. “Even if I can’t speak the language, I can sing a song in it and you’ll understand.”

“Sing On” will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 15, and 2 p.m. Feb. 16, in the Kate Toben Auditorium at Manson Northwest Webster High School in Manson.

Tickets are $10 for adults, and $7 for students. Tickets may be ordered by calling 712-469-3116, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Manson Meridian Singers Tickets, P.O. Box 25, Manson, IA 50563. Please include payment along with the following information: show date, number of tickets, and whether tickets are for adults or students. Make checks payable to the Manson Meridian Singers.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
The Manson Meridian Singers rehearse the men’s selection, “E Ala E” (Arise), for the group’s upcoming show. The Manson Meridian Singers will be performing their 49th production Feb. 15 and 16 in the auditorium at Manson Northwest Webster High School.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
The Manson Meridian Singers rehearse the women’s selection, “Music Down In My Soul,” for the group’s upcoming show.

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