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'Choraliers' looking to branch out with smaller group

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The Fort Frances Choraliers impressed the audience of nearly 300 people at the Townshend Theatre on Sunday afternoon with their performance of the annual Christmas cantata, this year entitled “Good News from Home.”

But what if Borderland residents could enjoy high-quality vocal performances by talented ensemble members more than a couple of times a year?

Choir director Diane Maxey is aiming to get a smaller, core group of skilled singers together in the new year and have them available to perform at all sorts of events throughout all seasons.

“What I am trying to do with this group—and I have had a pile of them signed up already—is try to get a group that could be ongoing,” she told the Times.

“We could do funerals, we could do weddings," Maxey noted. ”We could do little gigs, service club events, or parties.

"We would have an assortment of musical ditties that we could do that are different.

“Like, I've got the 'Abba' collection and we're working on a 'Beach Boys' collection—stuff that's not Christmas, that's not Easter, but everyday stuff, older stuff,” Maxey added.

“I want something we'll continue and we'll be available all year-round,” she remarked.

“We're really trying to make this happen in the community.”

The Choraliers numbered about 50 women and men in all this year, but the idea for this other group—which would be comprised of at least some of the current members as well as some new ones—is to have maybe 15-20 singers who will be available to perform at events.

“I am hoping to maybe appeal to some of the high school students,” said Maxey, hinting it might be a little easier to do so now that Fort High music teacher Lee-Ann Hines also has joined the Choraliers.

“If anyone is interested, they'll have to audition if they're new,” she added, noting they're welcome to call her at 274-7309.

Maxey previously had assembled a smaller group, the “Fort Harmonies,” which performed for several years but then disbanded a few years ago.

She noted the new group won't be called the Fort Harmonies because she now has three or four members who hail from Internationals Falls.

“I might have to come up with a new name. The 'Borderland Harmonies?'” she mused.

“We'll figure something out.”

The point of the group is to have fun and entertain, not make a profit. But nonetheless, the group will incur expenses and that's where sponsors come in.

Maxey urged any sponsors—be they individuals, businesses, or clubs—to get in touch with her.

“Just call me," she said. "We will advertise for them. They'll get to come to the concerts and be a part of it.”

Maxey noted she has a few individual sponsors already and she hopes to get New Gold on board as a major backer.

“[Sponsorships] don't have to be a lot," she stressed. "If I get $100 from 10 people, that would really help.”

The sponsorship money is needed for various expenses, ranging from facility rentals to copyrighted music.

Maxey also would like to get two-sided vests for her singers—one side sparkly and the other not.

This not only would give the group a unified look, but singers could wear the sparkly side out for a more casual program and then reverse it for a dramatic set.

“I want this group to be extremely professional,” she stressed.

As for this past Sunday's performance, Maxey said “it was wonderful,” adding everyone from the singers to those working behind the scenes did a great job.

“I was really proud of everyone," she beamed. "The turnout was great and people were really supportive.”

Maxey said Sunday afternoon's performance here raised about $2,000 through free-will offerings at the door and a fundraiser bake sale.

Much of that money raised will go to paying for the rental of the Townshend Theatre but some will go toward future expenses, including the new group.

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