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Songs of Hope will perform Sunday at the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center. Submitted Photo

Songs of Hope sings in Worthington Sunday

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WORTHINGTON — It isn’t every day that a touring group with performers from 15 different countries lands in Worthington.

But that day will arrive this Sunday, when Songs of Hope, an international group of 65 singers from all across the globe, will deliver a free, open-to-the-public concert at 2 p.m. in the historic Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC).

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“We’re so excited to have them come here, especially considering that their mission is to share a musical message of global understanding and cultural celebration,” said Tammy Makram, MAPAC manager.

“Worthington is the perfect place for a show like this — and because it’s also the weekend of Worthington’s International Festival, what better way to wrap up that celebration than with an international children’s choir?”

Tom Surprenant, the group’s program director, notes that Sunday will mark Songs of Hope’s first appearance in Worthington, although the St. Paul-based ensemble has been touring for 23 years.

Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the General Mills Foundation and Macy’s Stores make the event possible, as well as local sponsorship from the Friends of the Auditorium.

Participating singers range in age from 10 to 25 and come from the following places: Vietnam, China, India, Albania, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, Venezuela and several U.S. states.

Their show is reportedly high-energy and includes dancing, movement and cultural dress, plus music ranging from folk tunes to rock ’n roll.

“We’re told they will sing the new number ‘I am Malala,’ as part of the program,” said Makram.

Melvin Carter III serves as Songs of Hope’s vocal director, while other accompanying artists will be Cheryl Kramer (keyboards), David Burk (multiple instruments), Angel Diaz (percussion) and Alpdogan Türeci (percussion).

Surprenant and Jeanne Junge, both of St. Paul, co-founded Songs of Hope in 1991. Participating students attend a six-week, overnight performing arts summer camp before embarking on a concert tour.

Makram hopes to see the MAPAC seats filled with audience members on Sunday afternoon, guaranteeing the combination of air conditioning, upbeat and youthful entertainers and free admission will make it an ideal opportunity for even those who haven’t been to the auditorium since its expansion and remodeling to give it a try.

“It’s a great chance to experience a professional concert,” said Makram.

“And it will be uplifting to see these kids from a lot of different countries who have learned to live in the same space for a period of time, sing together and then bring a message of people everywhere getting along and respecting each other.”

Songs of Hope performs Sunday at 2 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. General admission seating is free; a free-will offering will be taken.

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