Charles City Singers ready with some show tunes

By James Grob,

Some sweet-sounding standard show tunes will fill Trinity United Methodist Church in Charles City Sunday evening as the Charles City Singers kick off their 43rd season with “A Grand Night For Singing, The Music of Richard Rodgers.”

The show gets started at 7:30 p.m., and the Rev. Kathryn Campbell, a long-time Charles City Singer, is hoping for a good turnout from the community.

She said that this performance will be different from previous shows.

“In the past, we were doing a lot more church choir music. This is considerably more varied,” Campbell said during rehearsal at Trinity United Methodist Church on Monday. “Doing a concert made up entirely of show music is a whole new feel. It’s a different mood.”

There are about 40 members in the Charles City Singers’ choir, under the direction of Scott Blankenbaker. Accompanists are Christine Cleveland on piano and Christopher Arp on organ.

Blankenbaker is in his second year as director. He lives in Charles City and works in Austin as a music instructor at Riverland Community College.

Campbell said it’s been a blessing to have him directing the Singers, as he pulls them in new directions.

“He demands more, and he gets it,” Campbell said. “I’m always just wondering what he’s going to come up with next.”

Richard Rodgers, who passed away in 1979 at the age of 77, was the first person to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony — considered the top four American entertainment awards. He also won a Pulitzer Prize. He is best known for his work with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein — who he teamed up with on such classic Broadway shows as “The Sound of Music,” “Oklahoma!,” “South Pacific” and “The King and I.”

Rodgers composed more than 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals, and is considered one of the most significant composers of 20th century American music.

The singers will perform such well-known favorites as “Some Enchanted Evening” and a medley of four pieces from “South Pacific”; “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”; and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.” More than 15 arrangements of Roger’s compositions will be performed Sunday evening.

We’ll also be wearing more color — we won’t be in all black, because that’s formal and this music isn’t as formal,” Campbell said.

The Singers perform two shows each year, one before Christmas and one in the spring.  Campbell said they are always looking for new singers, and said that there were a few high school kids and a few people new to town currently in the community choir.

“It’s really nice getting younger voices. We don’t want this to be a retirement party,” she said, and stressed that the group is social as much as it is artistic.

“It’s a great way to meet people. If people don’t have a family commitment, we’re dragging them to dinner with us after rehearsals.”