The Besser Male Chorus of Alpena will perform a spring concert June 1 at 7:30 p.m., under the sponsorship of the Optimist Club of Alpena. This year's venue will be the Granum Theatre at Alpena Community College.
The chorus celebrates its 64th year of bringing musical entertainment to Northeast Michigan. Tickets will be available at the door for $5 each.
The chorus made its first stage appearance at the Maltz (State) Theatre in Alpena on May 14, 1947, as a group of 12 Besser Company employees performing in "Dixie Jubilee." This was a minstrel show a very popular venue during and immediately following World War II.
Such appreciation of music and camaraderie was enjoyed, that this musical tradition continues still today.
Jesse Besser. philanthropist and founder of the Besser Company, served as mentor and financier of the chorus during his lifetime.
The group is always ready to welcome new voices to its ranks and invites men, 18 years or older, to join them on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Trinity Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall.
The men of the chorus are extremely proud to welcome three of Alpena's finest musicians to their stage for the June 1 concert. Directing the chorus is Berniece "Bunny" Lyon.
Lyon brings an extensive list of credits to her role, including organist, pianist, vocalist, actress, frequent music director for Thunder Bay Theatre, director of music for Grace Lutheran Church of Alpena, and assistant accompanist of the Besser Chorus. She has been a long-term friend and supporter and the chorus is thrilled to perform under her direction.
Providing musical keyboard accompaniment is the talented Suelyn Bartz. She studied piano in Alpena and organ at Adrian College. She presently serves as the principal organist at St. Bernard Catholic Church and First Presbyterian Church of Alpena.
Bartz is an active accompanist in the area and has played for the Alpena High School and Thunder Bay Junior High Choirs, ACC Collegiate Singers and the Besser Male Chorus. Since 1994, she has performed in approximately 50 musicals for local theatre groups, including AHS Masquers, ACC Players, Rogers City Players, Alpena Civic Theatre and Thunder Bay Theatre.
Bartz has composed several choral and chamber works, some of which have been performed locally and internationally. With such background and talent, the chorus feels fortunate to have her at the keyboard.
With her mastery of the wind instruments, Mary Ann Hubbard will once again provide flute accompaniment for this concert. She has become a "regular" with the chorus and has greatly enhanced their events with her expertise.
Hubbard, raised in a musical family, received her early music education in the Livonia Public Schools. She achieved her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois and a Master's Degree in Flute Performance from Central Michigan University.
Hubbard currently gives private flute lessons and plays in The Arioso Trio, Wind Song Flute Quartet and Quintetto Sonare Wind Quintet. She frequently appears with Alpena Civic Theatre, Alpena Symphony Orchestra, and the Besser Male Chorus.
In addition, she teaches flute and chamber music at ACC and is flute instructor at Wolverine Band Camp and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. It is a privilege to have her as part of the chorus ensemble.
This year's concert will feature songs of the early concert years, sacred and spiritual selections, as well as more contemporary show tunes and standards. Included in this concert will be the Besser Quartet and an exciting piano duet selection.