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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — After doing a fundraiser last year for another Sweet Adelines chorus that had lost everything in a fire, the Red Cedar Sounds are back this year to perform “Americana — Very Tall Tales” on Saturday, October 19.
“Americana — Very Tall Tales, American Folklore and Legends” will be the Red Cedar Sounds’ 12th annual Harvest of Harmony Cabaret and will be performed in the Martin Anderson Gymnasium at Colfax High School.
“The show is about American folk legends … It’s folklore, and it’s a lot of good patriotic songs and older songs,” said Colfax resident Mona Thorson, a member of the Red Cedar Sounds Sweet Adeline Chorus.
The show “is in memory of one of our members we lost last year, Claudia Hogan,” she said.
Hogan died of pancreatic cancer.
Harvest of Harmony is a matinee show this year. In previous years, the chorus held both a matinee and an evening show.
“We have fewer members, and we would like more people to come and sing with us. If they like to sing, they should try us out,” Thorson said.
“It’s a fun organization. We are more like family than people who just sing together. We sang at the nursing home in Chippewa by the hospital. We did the whole (Americana) program for the residents, like a dress rehearsal,” she said.
The Red Cedar Sounds perform at a variety of venues, such as area community groups, community events, nursing homes, retirement communities, churches and private events as well as an annual appearance at “Music in the Park” in Colfax.
“Last year, we didn’t do an actual show like we normally do. We did a benefit for another Sweet Adeline group that lost everything in a fire. It was at Colfax Lutheran,” Thorson said.
The Red Cedar Sounds is a non-profit service organization with members from Dunn County, Chippewa County and Eau Claire County.
The chorus is under the direction of Jennifer Dworak, and the chapter currently has 14 members.
The Red Cedar Sounds chorus was chartered in December of 2003, and the group has had an annual performance in the fall since 2007 featuring the Red Cedar Sounds, quartets Con Brio and Totally Connected, along with guest performers.
This year’s guest performers will be “Spice,” a regionally acclaimed ladies’ quartet.
“They won the quartet competition last spring in Rochester (for Region 6). They’re good enough to beat out all of the other quartets from Fargo to — I can’t remember how far east we go. It’s a pretty big region,” said Colfax resident Pat Eggert, another member of the Red Cedar Sounds.
Region 6 includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Canada, Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin, she noted.
“I would come just to hear them. They’re very fun gals,” Eggert said.
“This is the first time we will be on the stage. We started in the lobby (of the Martin Anderson Gymnasium) because we wanted it smaller and more informal. Then we moved inside the gym and (built sets) to make a smaller space. And now this time we’re on the stage. It’s easier for us because we don’t have so much to put up,” Eggert said.
The money raised, through selling tickets for the performance and the basket raffles, is used for risers, costumes and other expenses, she said.
Because Sweet Adelines is an international organization, “we pay local dues, region dues and national dues,” she said.
“We join because it’s fun. Some of the gals went to New Orleans for the International competition. A chorus from Sweden won this year,” Eggert said.
“It’s kind of a weird thing. (Harmony singing) is a U.S. art form, so everything is in English. You have to sing in English in the barbershop style, which is kind of a regulated thing. It’s interesting to see the Swedish singing in English in the barbershop style,” she said.
Sweet Adelines sing a cappella (without accompaniment), and they memorize the music and the lyrics.
Eggert says she is always curious about the year when the songs they perform were written.
Songs that will be performed at this year’s Harvest of Harmony include “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), “God Bless America” (1938), “What A Wonderful World” (1967), “God Bless the U.S.A.” (1984), “Zippity Doo Dah” (1945), “Carolina in the Morning” (1922), “Dream A Little Dream of Me” (1930), “Sentimental Journey” (1944), “Don’t Fence Me In” (1944), “This Is My Country” (1940), “That’s What Friends Are For” (1982), “We’ll Meet Again” (1939), “I’ve Heard that Song Before” (1942) and “To-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra” (2010 arrangement).
“Once you learn the words and the notes, then you have to learn the choreography. We have minimal choreography, but you do have to learn it,” Eggert said.
The Red Cedar Sounds practice Tuesday evenings in the Colfax United Methodist Church basement at 7 p.m.
Anyone who is interested in singing with them is welcome to just show up at one of their practices.
“We pretty much practice year around. Once in a while, we’ll perform on that night somewhere else. Or if the weather’s really horrible, we will cancel our practice. Other than that, we are there practically year around,” Eggert said.
“None of us are opera stars … we’re pretty ordinary singers. Church choir or whatever. But when you get in a group like this and you are singing the kind of music that you know produces the kind of harmonies they want, then you sound better than you did when you were singing by yourself,” she said.
“We ask people to join us, and they say, ‘Oh, you don’t want to hear me sing.’ But anybody can do this. I tell people that, and they don’t believe me. But it’s true,” she said.
Since the group was chartered, Red Cedar Sounds have participated in 12 competitions, first in Region 22 and now in Region 6. They have been awarded “most improved chorus” twice.
“Americana — Very Tall Tales, American Folklore and Legends” begins at 3 p.m. in the Martin Anderson Gymnasium at Colfax High School, 601 University Avenue, on Saturday, October 19
“We’re having a dessert and coffee, no soup and bread this year. It will be one performance,” Eggert said.
Tickets are $9 for adults and $3 for children and will be available at the door or from any chorus member.
The Red Cedar Sounds are again this year offering a free basket raffle ticket for each item of a woman’s product donated that will be delivered to a local woman’s shelter.
The chorus also will be offering homemade lefse this year.
The Red Cedar Sounds are available to perform at area community events. Call Colfax resident Kathy Tape with requests at 715-962-3383.