BAXTER - Choral music not only brought Bob Dryden and Sheri Drown together, but helped heal their broken hearts.

The couple never would have met or fallen in love had it not been for their shared love of choral music, or specifically, their interest in The Legacy Chorale. Now they plan to marry in mid-May, surrounded by family and friends and more than 40 members of the Chorale who will sing at least five different songs in celebration of their marriage.

Drown, 61, joined The Legacy Chorale when it began in the fall of 2002 but took a year off while her husband of 35 years, Pastor Dan Drown, was battling cancer. Ironically they had met while singing in a chorale in college. Sadly, Dan Drown was never well enough to watch his wife perform in The Legacy Chorale. He died on March 7, 2003.

Bob Dryden and Sheri Drown discovered as members of The Legacy Chorale that they make beautiful music together - outside of Chorale rehearsals. The couple, shown sitting at the grand piano at Dryden's home, where Dryden proposed for the second time in front of a houseful of Chorale members at their annual Christmas party, plan to marry in mid-May. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

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Sheri Drown sold their home in the Pine River area and moved to Baxter, primarily so she wouldn't have to travel so far for Legacy Chorale rehearsals.

At the same time, Dryden, 68, was mourning his own loss. His wife of 39 years, Linda Dryden, died on Nov. 6, 2003, of breast cancer. After she died, Dryden's friend, Steve Bardolph, encouraged him to attend a Legacy Chorale performance in St. Cloud with him. Before Dryden even left the performance, he knew he wanted to become a part of the Chorale. Dryden served as a director of theater at Central Lakes College from 1969-1996. He was initially a music major in college but changed his major to theater.

"It was phenomenal," Dryden said of the Legacy performance. "I could not believe what I was hearing and I was thinking, 'Where were all these singers in all those years when I was casting all those musicals (at CLC)?'"

If you go

Legacy Chorale presents 'All Rutter'

The Legacy Chorale of Greater Minnesota will present its spring concerts, "All Rutter," featuring "Requiem" and "Feel the Spirit," by John Rutter April 10, 12-13.

Area performances are 7:30 p.m. April 10 at First Lutheran Church, Aitkin, and 2:30 p.m. April 13 at Heritage of God Assembly Church, Baxter.

Tickets are $8 for adults and seniors and free for students 18 and younger. Tickets may be purchased at the door and in advance at the Dispatch and Aitkin Independent Age and from Chorale members.

Receptions will be hosted after both concerts, which are directed by Sarah Aamot-Lundin.

The Chorale includes 61 singers from 15 Brainerd lakes area communities.

For more information, contact Bob Nelson at 820-6034 or (888) 899-6034 or visit the Web site, www.legacy chorale.org.

Legacy Chorale hosts "Pasta, Pipes and Pedals"

The Legacy Chorale will host "Pasta, Pipes and Pedals," an annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser and organ recital from 5-7 p.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brainerd. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger. Carry-outs will be available.

The fundraiser will feature guest organists Heather Larson, 5 p.m.; Patricia Lundeen, 5:20 p.m.; Grace Forbord, 5:40 p.m.; Karl Robson, 6 p.m.; and Cathy Taylor, 6:20 p.m.

For advance tickets or additional information, contact Bob Nelson at 820-6034 or (888) 899-6034 or visit the Web site, www.legacychorale.org.

"It's been a source of healing for us," Drown said of The Legacy Chorale. "We just sing such wonderful music that I think it's ministered to our hearts and brought healing. That's what music does."

While the couple has known each other since 2004, it wasn't until last year that Dryden discovered that she was a widow. A group of Chorale members were at Drown's home practicing to sing for a funeral and Dryden overheard her talking about her late husband.

"I knew she was married to a preacher but I didn't hear the word 'was,'" said Dryden.

Dryden later asked her out. Their first date was to a mystery dinner theater performance on April 27 at Rockwoods in Baxter. They discovered how many interests they share in common. They both love attending concerts and the theater and they love to travel and entertain. They also shared the stories of the loss of their spouses and what life has been like since both have been gone.

On Nov. 27, 2007, Dryden was driving Drown to the Twin Cities airport for her 2-1/2-week trip to Hawaii and somewhere between Brainerd and Minneapolis they both decided they were definitely more than good friends. Upon her return, Dryden greeted Drown with an engagement ring and a proposal - right in the parking ramp at the Hubert H. Humphrey Terminal.

The couple had to hurry back to Brainerd because Dryden was hosting more than 60 Legacy Chorale members and their spouses at his home for their annual Christmas party that night. Drown took the ring off and they planned a big announcement at the party. As the whole group sang around the piano, Dryden broke the news.

"I told them, 'I did something this afternoon that I really enjoyed so I wanted to do it again," said Dryden. "So I proposed again."

Everyone let out a collective gasp.

"There was no air in the room," Drown said with a laugh. "Women started to cry. We shocked them."

Drown has three sons and a grandson while Dryden has four children and four grandchildren. All will be in attendance at their church wedding in mid-May. The wedding also will feature harp music, a mixed quartet from the Chorale, along with more than 40 members who will sing five songs at the nuptials.

"We vowed we would thank God every day for bringing us together because we believe he did," said Drown.

Dryden said the Chorale - and Drown - allowed him to sing again. He sings a different love song to Drown each day.

"There was a dark time where there wasn't anything to sing about," said Dryden.

Both said their spouses, just before their deaths, asked them to find love again. They both feel each would give them their blessing on this marriage.

"Linda said on her death bed that it would be a tribute to our marriage if you remarry - but give me a year," Dryden said with a smile. "She had a great sense of humor."

"I think it's wonderful," Sarah Aamot-Lundin, Legacy Chorale director, said of their union. "It's just further proof that music brings people together and just about every couple singing in the Chorale right now met each other in their college choirs. I'm kind of proud to be part of the reason they got together."

There are 10 other couples who have or are currently singing in The Legacy Chorale. They include Aamot-Lundin and her husband, Mike, Baxter; Daniel and Virginia Rohr, Brainerd; Sue and Charlie Johnson, Brainerd; Bob and Shari Nelson, Baxter; Mike and Carol Smith, Baxter; Lawrence and Sonya Chamberlain, Brainerd; Bill and Shelly Satre, Brainerd; Rob and Anne Freelove, Little Falls; Dave and Jennie Pelowski, Baxter; and Dick and Sally Sundberg, Minneapolis.

JODIE TWEED may be reached at jodie.tweed@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5858.