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Local director starts chorus

Derek Glenna wants to start a women’s a capella chorus.



If you have any desire to sing and harmonize, it’s time to discover your inner diva.

Local chorale director Derek Glenna is launching a prospective chorus of Sweet Adelines International, a non-profit organization of women singers “committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education, competition and performance.”

Sweet Adelines choruses and quartets sing a cappella, four-part harmony music. The music includes special arrangements of today’s ballads, classic songs, popular show tunes and mainstream music.

An informational meeting and first rehearsal will be held 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 26 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.

A barbershop quartet? Isn’t that only for men? Wrong.

“There is a youth movement,” said Glenna, 29, who has been singing a cappella for 20 years. “Everyone assumes it’s a bunch of retired guys singing barbershop.”

Sweet Adelines membership extends over five continents. The organization celebrates its 69th anniversary this July.

Women of all ages and abilities are invited to attend the newly forming northern Minnesota chorus. All singing voices are needed – low and high.

The ability to read music is not required, emphasizes Glenna.

Vocal instruction will be a regular part of chorus rehearsals. Learning CDs are provided so singers can practice at home, said Glenna.

He anticipates drawing singers from Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Walker, Frazee, Wadena ­– any town within one hour’s drive of Park Rapids, where rehearsals will be held due to its central location.

“People keep telling me there are so many great singers in this area,” he said.

Each year, the chorus will have an opportunity to compete at regional, national and even international contests.

The chorus will perform at annual shows, community events and group functions.

Glenna is eager to network with local student singers and choir instructors as well.

By day, Glenna is a mortician at Jones-Pearson Funeral Home. He and his wife recently moved to Park Rapids.

Glenna’s directing career began when he was 17. He most recently served as director of the Vallee De Croix Sweet Adelines chorus.

Glenna, a baritone, co-founded Grand Design Quartet with a longtime friend. The all-male barbershop group was crowned 2012 Land O’Lakes District Champions. They’ll be competing this July at an international contest held in Las Vegas.

Not sure if you can sing?

“Try it,” says Glenna. “Show up one evening to see if it’s something you like.”

For more information, call Glenna at 651-361-9273.