Local church choirs create collective concert


Austin Anderson, Staff Reporter

On Feb. 23, six local United Church of Christ churches joined together to perform sacred music to a small audience.

Since Lakeland is a religious institution affiliated with the United Church of Christ, it was a great offering to the local UCC church choirs to spread their wings and go beyond the church sermons to perform for, and with, other people. The whole event was planned by Interim Choir Director Lani Knutson, who wanted to organize a community choir event at Lakeland.

“I was looking for a way to get choirs on campus,” says Knutson.

The original plan was to have local high schools come and perform pieces on the Bradley Theatre stage, but as thoughts raced through Knutson’s head, she eventually thought about bringing local churches to campus and having Lakeland’s concert choir and Frauenchor groups perform alongside the church choirs.

Knutson also worked with Alumni and Community Engagement officer Kym Leibham for the event. They both contacted multiple UCC churches in the area. In the end, six churches agreed to come to Lakeland to perform. The churches were: Hope UCC from Sturgeon Bay, Ebenezer UCC from Sheboygan, Brown Deer UCC in Milwaukee, St. Peter’s UCC in Kiel, Peace UCC in Kewaskum and Bethlehem UCC in Kiel. Each church performed one to three songs.

“This is a great thing to get the communities together,” says John Weir from St. Peter’s UCC in Kiel. “That about sums it up!”

Campus Chaplin Rob Sizemore gave a quick introduction and prayer before the concert started. Then Lakeland’s Concert Choir was first up to perform with a smooth-sounding tune called “My Shepard Will Supply my Need.” After thunderous applause, Hope UCC performed three songs on their own, followed by Ebenezer UCC with three tunes as well.

Lakeland Singers performed one song onstage called “How Can I Keep from Singing?”

After a short intermission, Frauenchor performed one song entitled “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Then Brown Deer UCC choir performed a very lively song called “Shout for Joy.” This tune received a very positive response from the audience.

St. Peter’s UCC performed two pieces of music, which varied in genre. The last church to perform music was Peace UCC, which performed two songs.

“This is a great experience for church choirs,” says 80-year-old Tom Schlieif from Peace UCC. “It’s great to get outside the church for the experience.”

Schlieif has been singing for over 50 years and drove all the way from West Bend to perform.

The last event of the evening was a mass choir performance, which consisted of all the churches and Lakeland choirs squeezing onto Bradley’s stage.

Dr. Arthur T. Johnson, assistant professor of music, took to the organ to accompany them on “When the Morning Stars Together.” The last piece performed was a gospel song called “Rejoice and Sing.” The mass choir’s sound echoed throughout Bradley’s house.

In all, the concert was about two hours. After the performance, freshly made deserts and beverages were served in the lobby to the audience members and choir performers. In the end it was a great effort by Lakeland to keep its touch with the church and the community alive.