Manson Meridian Singers set February show

MANSON – When thinking of a theme for the 42nd annual Manson Meridian Singers program, Jerrold Jimmerson, the group’s conductor, said it was something he just dreamed up. “I was just starting to look at music,” he said. “I had a whole file of ideas at home, but this one was amazing. It was really kind of a middle of the night thing.”

At that moment, Jimmerson said the 2013 season’s theme, “Any Dream Will Do,” started to come to life.

“Everything starts with nothing,” said Jimmerson. “I like taking the idea, selecting the music, and developing it into something.”

The show will feature several familiar numbers performed by the entire 28-member mixed choir, along with small groups and soloists all centered around dreams, including “Any Dream Will Do” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat;” a medley from “Les Miserables” which includes the song “I Dreamed A Dream;” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain from “The Sound of Music;” and “Over the Rainbow.”

“It’s amazing how many songs out there are about dreams,” Jimmerson said.

Jimmerson is in his 27th year of conducting the group and said its future was uncertain just a few months ago.

But the show was able to go on.

“We were short some singers,” he said. “It goes in cycles. We didn’t know there for a while, but everything works for the better.”

The fall auditions brought together a group of 11 men and 17 women, which is not the smallest group Jimmerson has worked with. The largest group he has conducted was made up of 48 members and the smallest 24.

The call for members also brought several new singers into the mix.

“We added seven or eight new people this year that we may not have added otherwise,” he said. ‘This group is good for the community and our people; it’s something you don’t want to see not existing. As long as there is interest, I will be here. I will always want to see this group succeed.”

Since September, the group has been meeting weekly to rehearse the music. January becomes crunch time for the singers, Jimmerson said, and they meet two nights per week during the month preceding the performance.

“You get into January, that’s when you want to get away from using the music and work on memorization,” said Jimmerson. “That’s when we polish up what we don’t know well yet.”

The group is backed by the three-piece instrumental combo of Brad Bleam on bass, Brad Hoefing on guitar and Jon Merritt on drums. They are accompanied by Lori Erkenbrack on piano.

New to the show this year, a children’s choir will also be featured. They will accompany the adult group in three selections: “At Home, Let There Be Love,” “Children’s Suite” and “We Are The Children of Promise.”

“With a smaller group, we were able to add a children’s chorus,” said Jimmerson. “They will join us for some of the religious numbers.”

Participation in the group is not limited to Manson residents. Members travel from Fort Dodge, Rockwell City, Twin Lakes, Pomeroy, Lake City, Badger and as far away as Holstein. Some come just for the musical experience, while others members enjoy the friendship and camaraderie shared among the group.

“I love the camaraderie of it,” said T.H Hoefing, of Manson, who has been singing with the Meridians for 38 years. “There are lots of neat people in this group. And I enjoy the music; music is a hobby of mine. For me, it’s just really cool to be a part of a group of so many talented people from the area.”

Jan Dugger, of Manson, is performing in her 24th show with the ensemble. She participated in one of the first Meridian shows and took several years off to keep up with the busy schedules of her children, but joined again 23 years ago.

“I love it,” said Dugger. “I love the music, and I really enjoy this year’s theme. This is a great group, and I love to sing. There really is a lot of local talent.”

Dugger said she appreciates the time she gets to spend with fellow singers during the months they spend preparing for the annual show.

“We all become friends,” she said. “You really do miss them after it’s all over.”

Jimmerson agreed.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see people of all ages and our community working together to make this happen,” he said. “You see them become good friends, and once it’s done for the year, we all miss it.”