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Lakes Area Chorale to resume rehearsals next month, after nearly two-year break

The Lakes Area Chorale will begin holding rehearsals at Detroit Lakes' First Lutheran Church on the second Sunday in January, for the first time in nearly two years. The community choir group has previously been unable to hold its weekly rehearsals due to COVID-19 safety concerns, but now chorale director Barb Schramm is ready to begin work on a new "Rock 'n' Soul Meets Gospel" concert, set for Sunday, April 3 at the Historic Holmes Theatre. Participation is open to singers of all skill levels.

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Lakes Area Chorale Director Barb Schramm leads the group through a 2019 rehearsal. (Tribune file photo)
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When the Lakes Area Chorale canceled both of its planned public concerts in April 2020, due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19, no-one expected that they wouldn't be resuming their weekly rehearsals until January 2022 — nearly two years later.

"It was so sad, because we had prepared a great concert," said Barb Schramm, who has served as the chorale's director since 2019. "Our last rehearsal was on March 15, 2020, and it was the best that we'd ever had as a group."

In fact, Schramm liked the "Rock 'n' Soul Meets Gospel" format so much, that she's bringing it back for 2022.

"We'll be doing the same concert (as in 2020)," she said, noting that they will be rehearsing spirituals, gospel, Motown favorites, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, and everything in between.

"The idea is to show how they (the different genres) are all related, and how one form led to the next, almost like a storyline," she explained.

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Chorale member Doug Newman, who is also part of the local rock band known as The Fat Cats, is once again bringing along his bandmates to join in the fun of performing rock favorites "Stairway to Heaven" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," which will bring the concert to a close.

"Those are our last two pieces," Schramm said.

At the time of that rehearsal they had 72 singers, up from 50 or so the previous season; Schramm said she is hoping to welcome back as many past members as possible when rehearsals resume at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9.

Participation in the chorale is open to all aspiring singers, with no prior experience necessary. In fact, Schramm believes she can make a singer out of just about anyone.

"I start out all my voice lessons by saying, 'OK, you're already perfect, now let's see what you are doing to stop that perfection,'" she said.

Though no one that sings with the chorale is required to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination, or provide proof of their status, Schramm said it is "highly suggested" that they be fully vaccinated.

Masks are also strongly encouraged; Schramm said she will be providing the participants with masks they can wear while singing.

"It's not just about COVID, it's about all the other germs going around too," she siad.

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Cost to participate is $25, which includes copies of the sheet music they will be using. All rehearsals will start at 1 p.m., and last approximately two hours. An online "meet and greet" session for participants is set for this Sunday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

To register, contact Schramm at 218-443-0697 or send an email to lakesareachorale@gmail.com . The group also has a Facebook page for more information.

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