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Choral Society is “Happy Together”

Members to bring theme of uniting in times of struggle

-Submitted photo
The Fort Dodge Choral Society performs during a previous concert.

The Fort Dodge Choral Society is feeling “Happy Together” as they prepare for their upcoming performance season. Bruce Perry, conductor of the Choral Society, said, “After months of no rehearsals, seeing the smiling faces as the group sang the first strains of Hallelujah was a pure joy.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Choral Society to cancel their productions last year. At the beginning of August, the Choral Society was finally able to perform again with their concert entitled “Silent No More” to celebrate the group’s return to singing and to honor Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

Perry said their “Silent No More” concert packed in a full house.

“We had about as many people in there as we could get. It was wonderful,” Perry said. “People were very appreciative. I think people are longing to get out and return to some normality.”

Perry said he chose “Happy Together” as the theme for this season, not only because the choral members are happy to reunite, but also because he feels the community should portray that sense of togetherness, especially in times of struggle.

“COVID was hard on everybody and remains hard on people,” he said. “I chose the theme “Happy Together” because we are happy to be back together again and the one thing that really does unite us is music and singing.”

Perry said he loves to see how music can change a person’s mood.

“At Monday night rehearsal, people are coming in and they’ve had a long day,” he said. “Then by the time they’re leaving two hours later, they’re invigorated and energized by the synergy of the music and the group.”

Perry’s letter in the Choral Society newsletter tells a story from his mother when she worked as a nurse in a facility caring for patients with dementia. He wrote, “One sweet lady spent her hours cruising the halls in her wheelchair, singing at the top of her lungs, ‘I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free.’ When she passed each room, the residents would smile and become quiet and listen.”

The title of the Choral Society’s first performance this season is called I Sing Because I’m Happy. Perry wrote, “Preparing for the next season is a reminder of music’s power to make us ‘Happy Together’.”

The group will also perform a Christmas concert called I’ll be Home for Christmas. Perry said, “We got the idea that this is for people who maybe didn’t get to go home last Christmas.”

Their March performance is entitled “Together Again for the First Time” and will feature famous partnerships such as Rogers and Hammerstien, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Simon and Garfunkel among others.

Finally, their last performance for the season will be “Heavenly Voices” and they will partner with the Chamber Orchestra to perform more classical works.

Each performance will be at a different local church. Perry explained, “Different concerts have different space requirements and different instrument requirements. Plus, it’s always kind of fun to showcase some of the beautiful houses of worship.”

He said some concerts require more space such as when they partner with the Chamber Orchestra or a concert that heavily features an organ would require a church where the organ is in the front of the sanctuary.

Tickets for the concerts will be $10 at the door but they will begin selling season memberships soon. Perry said, “I will be honest, the arts can be an expensive mistress. Buying the music, hiring a pianist, orchestras, and soloists, printing programs all require funding.”

Perry said the society applies for grants and are thankful for the great support they get from the community. He wrote in their newsletter, “A community without music becomes an uninviting place. The arts are an important factor in attracting new businesses and residents to an area.”

Perry continued, “Fort Dodge is fortunate to have many fine arts organizations. Investment in the arts is an investment in our community’s future.”

The Choral Society has begun rehearsals for this season but Perry said new members are always welcome. They practice every Monday evening. Perry said, “We’re pretty welcoming. We’re all kind of united by the love of singing.”

Perry said the group usually ranges between 25 to 35 singers ranging in ages from 15 to 80 years old.

“The cross-generational aspect is amazing,” he said. “We love the arts, we love to be able to do things together, we love to look for ways to move forward. Those are part of the joys of Choral Society.”

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