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4/19/2014
Chorus prepares Gershwin song set
From left, Monica Mangis, Chandra Oshima, Nagisa Nishiwaki, K.A. Swiger and Lallette Kistler rehearse on Tuesday for the Ketchikan Community Chorus' upcoming spring concert, "Gershwin Portraits." In the back row, from left, are Ole Sullivan, Fred Miller, Cathy Tillotson, Margie Thynes and Sheila Zastrow. Staff photo by Nick Bowman


By MARJORIE CLARK

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan Community Chorus is preparing to knock your socks off with its Steppin’ Out 14 performance of "Gershwin Portrait."

The show is a cabaret performance of the works of Ira and George Gershwin, featuring a number of soloists and ensembles. The 29 vocalists will be accompanied by seven instrumentalists, including Trina Purcell at the piano, Karl Richey on guitar, Andy Pankow on bass, Duncan Menzies on drums, Lora Starr playing trumpet, Amber Junker on trombone and Wyatt Anderson playing tenor saxophone.

The chorus' usual pianist, Angela Garton, has participated in rehearsals, but is unable to attend the performances. Director Steve Kinney said they were lucky to have Purcell step in.

The selection of 30 tunes is enhanced by choreography by Clare Bennett and Carol Schafer.

The performance will feature tunes such as "I’ve Got Rhythm," "Strike Up the Band" and "Clap Your Hands," as well as selections from "Porgy and Bess," such as "Summertime," "I Got Plenty of Nuttin" and "My Man’s Gone Now." Other selections will come in sets of jazz, love songs and ballads.

Kinney has been involved with the community chorus for nearly 50 years, and has served as the musical director for almost 18 years. He said the community chorus did a Gershwin-themed show similar to this one approximately 16 years ago, and people still bring it up in conversation.

"I encourage people to take this one in," he said. "These types of shows don't come around every year."

He said the chorus shuffles its music every year, sometimes doing major classical works, such as Handel's "Messiah."

"We do a wide range of music," Kinney said. "We try to do that so vocalists hopefully find their preference and over the course of a couple years they find something that speaks to them"

Lallette Kistler, Sarah Fitzgerald, Melissa Nicklin and Kira Beck have solos throughout the performance. Two quartets will also take the spotlight: Affinity, with Judy Knecht, Cathy Tillotson, Margie Thynes and Sheila Zastrow; and Sprit Wind, with Bob Alguire, Michael Fitzgerald, Steve Kinney and Ole Sullivan.

Kinney said the show has been in the works since the beginning of the year.

"It takes a tremendous amount of work because you have to learn the music, and then know it and memorize it, and then put the movements together," Kinney said. "It's a different experience to keep the music together with the choreography steps."

Kinney said members of the choir have been very dedicated, with two rehearsals a week since January.

"Clare (Bennett) and Carol (Schafer) have been very patient with us learning all the nuance and moves," Kinney said.

Kinney said Gershwins’ catalog of music is such a hit with the performers and the audience because the melodies are engaging.

"It has a beat that people tap their toes and snap their fingers along to," Kinney said. "They get involved with the music."

The Ketchikan Community Chorus will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26, at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. Tickets are available at McPherson Music, The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council, Silly Munchkins and Celebration Station.