Sonshine Singers will have ukulele this year

The Sonshine Singers’ annual March Ministry concert will be at 7 p.m. March 15 and 2 p.m. March 16 at Decker Auditorium, Iowa Central Community College.

The 130 singers hail from 45 area churches, with members from Spencer, Alta, Otho, Gilmore City, Waterloo, Storm Lake and Stratford, among other towns. An orchestra of 11 will accompany the group on select numbers.

While many things are the same, this is the first year they’ve used a ukulele, said Director Armona Redenius.

“We have never had a ukulele for accompaniment,” Redenius said. “It is so cool on the song ‘Don’t Worry About Tomorrow.'”

Playing ukulele will be the group’s bass player Steve Kelleher and singer Joe Svendsen.

“He plays a mean ukulele,” Redenius said. “This is a fun arrangement.”

This year will feature a four-hand piano accompaniment on “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth,” featuring pianist Sue Feltman and assistant pianist Denise Valentine. Feltman has been with the group since it began 14 years ago, said Redenius.

The choir will perform all types of anthems from the heartfelt – “Come to Jesus,” “Blessings,” “More Precious Than Silver” – to more upbeat gospel like “Miracle Man,” “Soon and Very Soon,” and “Great, Great Morning.” As always, the purpose of the concert is to celebrate story of Christ’s birth, his life and teachings, and his resurrection, Redenius said.

The choir stays roughly the same size from year to year, she said, but it’s growing where it matters.

“We’ve gotten some young people, not only from Fort Dodge Senior High and the community schools, but from out of town, from other high schools, so that has been a wonderful blessing to have more youth involved,” she said.

Also accompanying the group will be members of the Jive for Five brass ensemble; Craig Johnson and Kevin Thompson on percussion; Michelle Curtis on flute; and a string ensemble with Bill Sergeant, Paul Thompkins, Lori Marty and Paula Ravn.

Picking out the songs for the ministry always takes “quite a bit of time,” said Redenius.

“The summer months for me are very busy. I review a lot of music from publishers I’ve ordered from over the past 14 years. Then comes the task of just really listening to the music, and providing a diverse ministry of not only gospel, up-tempo, songs, but also heartfelt songs that will not only touch the listener, but touch the singers.

“I spend plenty of time in prayer as well, just hoping that God will inspire me to pick out the right songs that will touch the hearts and minds of those who listen.”

There will be no CD recording of this year’s concert, unlike previous years.

“Hopefully we will take some songs that have not been recorded, and in a few years put together a recording that will include them,” she said.

Those who miss the songs of the March ministry will get another chance in August. The choir will perform many of the same selections on Aug. 25 at the Mission Alliance Church in Blairsburg.

“It’s a way for the snowbirds to come and hear the music,” Redenius said.