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Mark potvin to bring choir to DL saturday

The East Central Minnesota Chorale will be performing at the Methodist Church in Detroit Lakes Saturday. Submitted Photo

 Over the past 32 years, more than 150 singers have been a part of the East Central Minnesota Chorale.

Those singers have run the gamut of ages, and hailed from a five-county region of Minnesota that includes Mille Lacs, Chisago, Kinnebec, Isanti and Pine counties.

For the past six years, they have been under the artistic direction of someone whose name is quite familiar in this community: Detroit Lakes native Mark Potvin.

Potvin will be bringing his 50-voice ensemble to Detroit Lakes this Saturday, May 4, for a special concert at the United Methodist Church, starting at 3 p.m.

After graduating from Luther College in 2001, Potvin started work as a choir director at Princeton High School. He worked there for seven years, directing three curricular choirs, two extracurricular jazz/pop choirs and serving as artistic director of the annual fall musical, one-act play and spring play.

In the fall of 2007, Potvin became the artistic director of the East Central Minnesota Chorale, based in Cambridge.

Potvin said that the current group of singers ranges in age from 18 to 75 years.

“There’s a big range in both ages and levels of experience,” he said. “We just get together on Monday nights and we sing.”

The ECMC usually does four concert series each year — one in December, one in February, one in March/April, and one in May.

Founded by former Cambridge High School choral director David Clarke in 1980, the ECMC has performed in regional tours of Duluth, Grand Forks, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Rochester, Marshall, and other Minnesota towns for several years.

The Chorale has also performed at the state convention of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as the ACDA regional convention in Lincoln, Nebraska.

But according to Potvin, it’s been almost a decade since the last time the group has been on the road together.

“The Chorale hasn’t traveled for almost 10 years, and I’m excited for the reception they’ll get in Detroit Lakes,” Potvin said. “There’s just something magical that happens when a group goes on tour together.”

He’s also excited that this tour will be making a stop in his hometown.

“When I’ve brought choirs to town (Detroit Lakes) before, there’s always been a great turnout,” he said. “So we decided to make it one of our stops.

“The folks at the Methodist Church have been such gracious hosts — I’ve brought choirs there on three different occasions, and it’s so reassuring to come back to my hometown and be received so beautifully, and so warmly, by the friends and family that have been part of my life since infancy,” he added. “It’s really special.”

Those attending can expect to hear “an eclectic mix” of everything from Shaker hymns to excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” and Mozart’s “Missa Brevis” (which means “short mass” in Latin).

“We will close with a piece by a Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo, called ‘Luminous Night of the Soul,’ with text by Charles Anthony Silvestri,” Potvin said.

“It’s a piece that talks about the beauty of music, and how we can be awakened to ourselves and the world around us through art.”

A unique feature of this final piece, he added, is that it’s kind of a duet between the ensemble and the pianist.

“The piano and the choir are equal partners in this piece,” Potvin said.

Though a free will offering will be taken during the concert, there is no cost to attend.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” Potvin said. “We’ll be in Cambridge on Thursday, Brunswick on Friday — by the time we hit Detroit Lakes on Saturday we’ll be hitting our stride.”

The tour concludes on Sunday in Fergus Falls, he added.

For more information, please visit the ECMC website at

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454