The woods are alive with music

Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation supports music and theater performances

The Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus and Grand Rapids Players were awarded funding during the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Annual Grant Cycle. “These groups put their ‘all’ into their performances, delighting audiences and enriching the lives of many,” says Sarah Copeland, “They also offer local people the opportunity to share their talents whether it is behind the scenes or on stage, all working together to make every performance memorable.”

PHOTOS: Brianna Spry, Program Administrator at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, presents two grants from the Annual Grant Cycle to the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus for their concert in Togo.

Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus share their love of music with many

The Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus was awarded a total of $1,014 from the Fund for the Arts ($764) and TJ Maroney/Barzen Donor Advised Fund ($250) to help fund their Christmas concert at the Minnesota Correctional facility near Togo, MN. While the chorus performs for several groups during the Christmas season, the concert for the corrections facility was unique for a couple of reasons.

“For obvious reasons this was different. We all went through a background check and we basically each walked in with a photo id and music folder; no cell phones or cameras were allowed,” says Chorus member Harry Smith. “Most importantly, we felt we received as much as we gave. Some of the fellows sang along and later sent us thank you notes.”

The corrections facility at the old Thistledew site near Togo, MN houses men who are in the last months of their sentence and prepares them for life outside of the corrections system.

Did you know the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus has been performing since 1956 and was originally called Betty’s Boys as the first director was Betty Kauppi? The Chorus does not have auditions and welcomes men of every age and singing ability. They sing a wide variety of music throughout the year including show tunes, folk songs, classical, spirituals, sacred and humorous selections. Membership ranges in age from 15 to 83, with some members who have been in the chorus for over 50 years.

The Chorus is committed to performing choral music for the enjoyment and benefit of the members and audiences and to encourage a lifetime of singing among men of all ages and backgrounds. Members practice weekly, September through April, under the direction of Eileen Grosland with accompanist Bonnie Kangas. The Chorus has three scheduled events every year: a Christmas Concert, our Spring Concert and the Big Sing. They are also a service organization and share their love of music in performances throughout northern Minnesota at numerous fundraisers, scholarship drives, church services, community events and senior living homes.

The grant from the Community Foundation will be used to cover the transportation costs as well as part of the cost of music.

Grand Rapids Players bring smash hit Mamma Mia! to Grand Rapids

PHOTO: Grand Rapids Players receive $1,000 from the Gibbons Family Fund. (L-R) Josh Cagle, VP Grand Rapids Players and Assistant Director for the Youth Program and Sharon Marty-Rasmussen, Grand Rapids Players Trustee and Costume Coordinator.

The Grand Rapids Players received $1,000 from the Gibbons Family Fund during the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Annual Grant Cycle. They used the funding to put on the most technical and complex production of their 53-year career: Broadway's smash hit musical "Mamma Mia!" It ranks as the seventh-longest running musical in Broadway history; 54 million people, in 40 different countries have seen this production.

According to Grand Rapids Players Trustee and Costume Coordinator Sharon Marty, “This particular production required a versatile cast of over 50 people that love to sing and dance. There were several keyboard artists and Community Chorus members who worked fervently to reproduce the flavor of Abba's music in the 1970's.” Marty continues, “The set was an expensive undertaking as the crew created the essence of a small village on the Mediterranean seashore. We were so excited to offer this production to our community - audiences were enchanted with the music and dance, not to mention the costumes and set design.”

Many worked behind the scenes as set builders, painters, costumers, hair and makeup artists, back stage assistants and props detectives. Although audiences never saw them, these folks walked away with a sense of pride and ownership just as much as the folks who appeared on stage. The Players hoped to generate a profit to provide seed-money for future endeavors including upcoming productions as well as the Youth Theater programs, workshops and original works. An all-volunteer board, the Players are committed to their mission, ...'to provide community theater opportunities for all ages, be it ON stage, BACK stage, or IN the seats'. With their past history of providing quality programs that include "The Music Man", "Arsenic in Old Lace", "Beauty and the Beast", "Lion King, Jr.", and "Aladdin, Jr.", "Mamma Mia!" is now also the talk of the town!

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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