Community choir

The greater Sidney Area sixth annual Community Christmas Concert is fast approaching, set for Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m., at Sidney Middle School. The concert has become a local tradition, with close to 50 performers sharing their musical talents to ring in the season and support the local food bank. The concert is free, but donations will be accepted at the door for the Richland County Food Bank. Please bring a free will donation of food or cash: canned, boxed, or dry goods to help those in need this Christmas. All donations collected will go to the Richland County Food Bank.

The Community Concert is a family-friendly non-denominational celebration of the birth of Christ. Traveling from Sidney, Froid, Culbertson, Savage and beyond, the 35 members of the choir will perform nine musical selections ranging from the traditional to the modern.

Interspersed between choir numbers will be additional musical numbers performed by local groups and musicians.

Returning this year by popular demand will be the Sunrise Brass performing troupe; the accordions played by Violet Tharp and Vicki Vaira; the children of Doctor and Daniela Bennion on vocals, violin and guitar; Pella Lutheran Choir; and the ladies choir from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. New performers this year include gifted youth performers Lexi Obergfell, solist; Maddie Peters, pianist; and Hannah Karren, soloist and song writer who will accompany herself on the ukulele.

The Community Choir is made up of talented volunteers who practice weekly in October and November for this event. New to directing the Community Choir this year is Lana Hekkel, Sidney Middle School band and general music director. Hekkel is originally from Grenora, North Dakota. Graduating from the University of Jamestown, she has been teaching K-12 music for nine years and now lives in Culbertson. She and her husband have one child, age 4. She enjoys sharing her talents as both a singer and as a director in the choir.

Returning as directors this year are Daniel Chaussè and Tyler Harris. Chaussè is originally from Manhattan. He now lives in Savage and teaches K-12 general music, band, and choir at Savage Schools. Chaussè also plays in the Sunrise Brass Quintet and has toured Iowa, California and Italy with choirs, and was in the Spirit of the West Marching Band for two years.

Tyler Harris has been with the Community Choir for four years. He formerly taught music at Sidney High School and is now teaching K-12 music in Froid. Harris also plays the trumpet in the Sunrise Brass touring group, has played in numerous college groups, and is a church accompanist. He enjoys the friendship and camaraderie that the Community Choir brings.

Accompanists this year include Katherine Bidegaray and Synnevah Meldahl. Meldah has taught piano and music locally for many years and serves as a music teacher for grades one through three at West Side School in Sidney. Katherine Bidegaray is a District Court Judge for the Seventh District Court in Montana and volunteers her musical talents to teach piano lessons and to accompany the performers at Sidney Schools and in the Community Choir.

Bee Morales of Sidney Middle School returns as head of design and decorating for the program, and Nick Kallem of Sidney Schools returns as the sound and lights technician. Pastor Tim Tharp will serve as the narrator of the program. Tharp, who grew up in Sidney, is a former teacher/superintendent/athletic director, and formerly Montana’s Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He now serves as pastor to Grace Lutheran Church in Skaar and First Lutheran in Savage.

Bring family, bring yourself and bring a donation to the food bank. Come enjoy an afternoon of music and celebration on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Sidney Middle School Auditorium. Help ring in the season and help those in need at this most wonderful time of the year.

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