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Bowman keeps holiday tradition

The Bowman Community Chorus is presenting two holiday performances in keeping with a tradition that started in 1959. The program features a cantata by Tom Fettke titled "Noel and Alleluia" with carols and contemporary Christmas songs.

Director Ron Bowman credits the longevity of the chorus to a pool of musical talent in the region, including seven active or former music teachers.

"It's just a tradition that we're really looking forward to every year," he said. "We have high school and junior high kids singing with some 65- and 70-year-olds. We have every denomination in town and about every occupation too."

The performances are 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, in the Bowman Lutheran Church. "This cantata kind of fit us the best," he said. "The solos are very tough but we have three real good soloists and the choir sings behind all three."

The soloists are:

r Heidi Jahr, elementary music teacher for Bowman County Schools.

r Will Charbonneau, vocal music instructor, Scranton High School.

r Harrison Homelvig, a senior at Bowman County High School.

The Children's Choir directed by Heidi Jahr will sing, "Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven."

Saxy Brass, directed by Lynn Brackel, will perform as a prelude and at the intermission. This group started as a saxophone quartet and has developed into a 15-member ensemble of local musicians, Brackel said.

"I started by playing my horn, but too many people ended up playing, so I direct," he said.

Brackel spends his summers at a lake rewriting the music for the ensemble.

He said the group also will be playing carols through Bowman's Main Street on Monday night, and again on Dec. 16, when it plays during worship services at Bowman's four churches.

Brackel also sings with the choir during the performance.

"For me, not being a director and singing in the back row is fun," he said.

The second half of the concert features several of the chorus' favorite numbers from years past, plus a new number titled "A Celtic Noel." This Irish-sounding number features Melissa Senn on flute and Savannah Kienzle on violin.

This year's accompanist is Donna Marie Dettmann. A freewill offering will be taken and refreshments will be served.

The chorus uses the offerings to support local school activities and music scholarships. This year, a $500 scholarship was awarded to Megan Case, a senior music student at Northern State University, Aberdeen, S.D. She is a graduate of Scranton High School.

The concert is dedicated in memory of Laura Van Eckhout and Marilyn Oakland, long-time chorus members.

The first Bowman Community Chorus was organized in 1959 with members from the Bowman Lutheran and Bowman Methodist choirs. Ron Bowman has served as director since 1970.

The chorus has 52 members, coming from Rhame, Scranton, Bowman, and Ladner and Buffalo, S.D. Nine of the members joined this year, and 15 are members of the 25-year-club. A total of 591 members have participated in programs over the past 54 years.

Over the years, the chorus has performed more than 90 concerts, including Easter cantatas and summer performances.

Bowman and his wife, Orpha, are members of the choir's 50-year-club. Orpha also helps serve lunch.

"Have coffee and those Norwegians sing really well," Bowman quipped.