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‘He’s challenging us musically’

October 13, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

A familiar face to the area has taken the reins of the Buffalo Ridge Chorale, and the group is glad to have him.

Plus, kids have become a welcome addition, forming their own chorale.

The Buffalo Ridge Chorale is having its concert, "Songs and Sonnets," at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28, at St. John Canticus Catholic Church in Wilno.

The concert features the newly-formed 17-member Buffalo Ridge Youth Chorale, under the direction of Missy Sagmoe of Brookings, S.D.

Former Southwest Minnesota State University choral director Russell Svenningsen is the new director of the Chorale, taking over for Steven Grives, who accepted a new job at DePaul University in Illinois. Svenningsen is the choral director at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. Nancy Sandro, one of the Chorale members, said they knew about Svenningsen and had made a list of possible directors with his name at the top.

"We asked him first and he said 'yes,' and we were so happy," Sandro said.

The Chorale performs two concerts a year and usually rehearses for just the eight weeks before each show. In the last five weeks, members said they appreciate what Svenningsen has brought to the group.

"We think he's just wonderful," said Chorale member Roberta Trooien. "We are having a great time and working hard. He's demanding, but extraordinarily tactful and very kind."

"He's challenging us musically and he made it fun. We've only had him for five rehearsals and learned to love and respect him," Sandro said.

A few of the pieces the Chorale is working on for the upcoming concert include "Rise Up O Men of God," to be performed by the men, and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," being done by the women of the Chorale. There's also a "lush" arrangement of "Home on the Range, a "couple of really nice and simple Shaker songs" and "Cloths of Heaven" as part of the concert's repertoire. Trooien describes "Cloths of Heaven" as "lovely."

"The one thing that interests me about the song is the lyrics are a poem by William Butler Yeats," she said.

Trooien said the youth chorale has been enthusiastic about performing.

"They're the future," Trooien said. She said that after one of the summer workshops the Chorale had for the youth group, one of the kids said he couldn't wait to grow up and sing with the adult Chorale. "That was a thrill, we loved hearing that. We feel like we've been so lucky."



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