The Smoky Valley Men’s Choir will next perform on Sunday, Oct. 29 at the annual Assaria Lutheran Church Evening of Song. The event emcee will be State Rep. Steven Johnson, a member of the Church and who sings (bass) in the Choir. “We’ve been part of this charming evening of performances by a variety of talents, young and not-so-young, for many years,” said the Choir’s director, Leah Ann Anderson.
On December 9 the Men’s Choir will perform at 7 p.m. at the Swedish Pavilion in Heritage Square. The event is part of the annual Old Fashioned Christmas celebration at the McPherson County Old Mill Museum in south Lindsborg. “The Pavilion is a great place to perform – vaulted wood ceiling, great acoustics.” said Anderson, who has directed the Choir for the 20 years since it began.
Acoustics? This 46-member group seems to create its own acoustics. The Men’s Choir performance at Bethany Church on Oct. 13 may have been the finest of its 11 biennial concerts (on the first eve of the community’s Hyllningsfest celebration.) “Each section is quite strong,” Anderson said recently. “Bass, baritone, and the two tenor sections are so sound; and their talents give enormous confidence to each other, and so it all builds.”
It does. The group’s crystal tone and resonance, its whole-spirited alliance of talent, is a community treasure that has flourished over the decades. The Men’s Choir seems to improve each time it performs.
The group was the idea of Carroll Lindgren, who believed a community men’s choir should be part of the Hyllningsfest program in 1997. Aware of Anderson’s talent, he asked her to direct the group. The men who comprise it span three generations, and represent eclectic components of the community: farmers, bankers, teachers, doctors, pharmacists, pastors, social workers, builders, students, businessmen, and the retired, all holding a certain passion for music, and their many rehearsals show it.
The Choir’s anima stems from Swedish heritage, a devotion derived from the first settlers who came with little more than scraps of clothing and a few tools – and their hymnals. Music invigorated their faith, and musicians gave it strength and beauty and resonant force, the mainspring of its magnificence.
Today the Men’s Choir is something strong and immutable, an essence for a group that confirms this heritage with its radiance.
– John Marshall