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Chamber Singers sport new look

The Worthington Chamber Singers under the direction of Joseph Osowski (right) will perform Advent and Christmas music in their new formal attire this weekend at the United Methodist Church in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Christmas arrived a bit earlier than usual this year for the 20-plus members of the Worthington Chamber Singers.

A generous gift from an anonymous donor enabled the long-standing vocal group to subsidize new concert dress for one and all, besides allowing purchase of additional music for the singers' repertoire.

"We'll look much more professional," assured Joseph Osowski, in his third year of directing the skilled ensemble. "For a group that performs as well as they do, we wanted to look the part and put our best foot forward, so we are, of course, most grateful for this thoughtful gift."

So while the assemblage of vocalists began meeting in the fall to sight read new music and perfect some old favorites, they were also busily measured and sized as a committee selected black velour dresses for the ladies and tuxes for the men, all due to arrive prior to this weekend's annual concert of Advent music the group has performed since the early 1990s.

"Last spring, we gave a concert on a Sunday afternoon, and we had a good response to that, so we decided to try it again for this December performance," explained Osowski.

With a 2 p.m. start, Osowski suggested some people might consider going from church to lunch or brunch before heading to the concert, which will feature a variety of Christmas music.

"Our program includes songs in different languages and from different times, from the Renaissance period to contemporary," said Osowski. "Some of the music is very traditional -- like the a cappella 'Silent Night' with which we'll close -- to the lovely 'Basque Lullaby,' which is contemporary."

Also featured will be "Ding Dong, Merrily on High," a John Rutter setting of "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly," and a vocal arrangement for the men of "Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy" from "The Nutcracker" score.

"It's OK to laugh at that one," chuckled Osowski, referring to the latter. "It's entertaining, but sort of tongue-in-cheek."

Tenor and Worthington resident Duane Anderson, who has included the Chamber Singers in his annual music activities "for as long as I can remember," said his two favorite selections for the upcoming concert are "Still, Still, Still" and "There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob," partly because he remembers singing and enjoying them as a high school choral student in Owatonna.

"They stir up positive memories of my high school singing experiences," expressed Anderson. "And I always like singing with the Chamber Singers because it's hard to get a full tenor section in individual churches, and we have that here."

Two members new to the group this year are Michele and Michael Brenneman of Bingham Lake, a soprano and baritone, respectively.

Michele Brenneman teaches vocal music in the Butterfield-Odin schools and met Osowski last summer at the Concordia College choral school for directors.

"We love the high quality and musicianship we hear in this group," remarked Michele. "It's great to have challenge and variety in the music, and we appreciate that expectations are high. Michael and I are both glad to be a part of it."

As for Osowski, who is carrying on a tradition begun by founding director Joan Mork, directing the Worthington Chamber Singers and staging the annual concert of Advent music for area residents is an honor.

"I appreciate the commitment and talent of our members," commented Osowski. "Some of our singers have been in this for many years, and they still find it fun to get together and make this level of music.

"They give a lot of their time, and this concert is a wonderful opportunity for the community to hear the result of their musical effort."

The Worthington Chamber Singers perform at 2 p.m. Sunday at the First United Methodist Church, Worthington, 408 11th St., along with the Worthington Brass and the Great Plains String Quartet. A freewill offering will be taken, with proceeds benefiting a local charity.