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REAL Men Sing! festival planned Oct. 3

STAPLES - The annual Real Men Sing festival will be Oct. 3 at the Staples Motley High School. The festival will feature the returning North Dakota State University Statesman choir and making its first appearance at the festival is the professiona...

Cantus Vocal Ensemble will be the special guests at the Real Men Sing! festival planned Oct. 3 at the Staples Motley High School in Staples. The concert begins at 7 p.m. (Submitted)
Cantus Vocal Ensemble will be the special guests at the Real Men Sing! festival planned Oct. 3 at the Staples Motley High School in Staples. The concert begins at 7 p.m. (Submitted)

STAPLES - The annual Real Men Sing festival will be Oct. 3 at the Staples Motley High School.

The festival will feature the returning North Dakota State University Statesman choir and making its first appearance at the festival is the professional group Cantus, acclaimed as "the premier men's vocal ensemble in the United States."

This choir festival of learning will culminate with the performance open to the public at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 in the gymnasium.

Participating schools include Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Staples Motley, Pillager, Bertha-Hewitt, Brainerd and Sebeka. Additional registrations are expected and registrations are open online at www.staplesmen.org/samc/ with details on how to participate.

Real Men Sing! (RMS) is a program for high school students and adults and it is conducted by guest director Chris Aspaas, the director of choral activities and associate professor of music at Texas Christian University. Aspaas formerly at St. Olaf College conducted a 90-member Viking Chorus as well as the Saint Olaf Chapel Choir, a 100-voice ensemble specializing in the performance of oratorio and larger multi-movement works. Additionally, Aspaas led the All-Northwest Mixed Choir in 2015 and will lead the American Choral Directors Association Southern Division Men's Honor Choir in 2016.

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Voice Clinicians will be working with the soloists in a breakout session during the day. RMS will be accompanied by Sandy Paskewitz. Section leaders are Erik Espe, tenor 1, Tony Sanders, tenor 2, Brian Stubbs, bass 1 and Rob Freelove, bass 2.

"RMSjr! is now in its third year and has been very beneficial ... We received a lot of positive feedback from the students as well as from their directors," Staples Area Men's Chorus Director Steve Hoemberg said. "The program was set up to bring middle school students into the Real Men Sing experience at an age in their vocal development to help them understand their changing voices. It is our hope that they will continue to enjoy using their voices and continue with their choirs and singing throughout their lives."

RMSjr! Guest Director Joe Osowski is the director of choirs at St Michael-Albertville High School, and previously served as choral director at Anoka-Hennepin and Worthington School Districts. Choirs under his direction have been featured at numerous festivals throughout the region. Osowski is also the artistic director of the East Central Minnesota Chorale, a community choir based in Cambridge. Osowski is an active member of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and American Choral Directors Association, most recently serving as the North District chair for ACDA-MN.

Both groups will participate in a day of music education and classes to encourage vocal development and performance skills. In addition to large group and sectional rehearsals, the groups will also participate in a master class with Cantus.

The Staples Area Men's Chorus, the organizers of the Real Men Sing event, want to thank the community for supporting their fundraising efforts to support the Real Men Sing event which continues to be free for all students attending. In addition, the following agencies have made direct contributions: The Five Wings Arts Council with funds from the McKnight Foundation supplemented with Legacy funds; the Staples Lion Club, Staples Motley Community Foundation, National Joint Powers Alliance and Popplers Music.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and available online at www.staplesmen.org , at Nelson Insurance Agency in Staples and from any member of the Staples Area Men's Chorus.

Following the 7 p.m. concert, an optional Afterglow, an informal concert with food and cash bar, will be held at the Staples Community Center.

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