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Soprano and Cottage Grove resident Mary Beard will perform in a concert by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)

Cottage Grove resident lends voice to Twin Cities Women's Choir

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When Minnesota has its musical portrait painted by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir May 9-10, Cottage Grove resident Mary Beard will be among those singing its praises.

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“Every song that we are singing has some connection to Minnesota,” said Beard, who joined the choir in 2009. She sings in the second soprano section.

Their concert, titled “Minnesota! Nice!” is part of their annual Divas & Desserts fundraising gala at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis.They will premiere two new works: “Bdote” (meaning “where two waters come together”) by Minnesota composer Janika Vandervelde, and “Funkytown Remix” by Randi Grundahl Rexroth, who is assistant director of the choir. “Funkytown” was a No. 1 hit in 1980 for Minneapolis-based disco band Lipps Inc.

Also on the bill is “Over the Rainbow,” which was made famous by Minnesota native Judy Garland. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was included because the doomed ship of the song’s title departed from Duluth. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is self-explanatory.

Beard joined the Twin Cities Women’s Choir after a colleague at the University of Minnesota suggested she attend an open rehearsal, where prospective members can sing with the group.

“I really liked the director,” Beard said. “I thought that she had a really good understanding of vocal production and vocal health. I liked their selections of music -- some serious, some classical, some contemporary -- so it was a really good mixture. “

She also sings in Encore, a smaller ensemble within the group, and serves as its music librarian. Her husband Paul is part of the Back-Ups, a group of spouses and significant others who volunteer behind the scenes for the choir.

Pat Teiken, executive director of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir, said that Beard’s commitment to the group goes beyond Do-Re-Mi.

“She provides leadership there,” Teiken said. “She’ s just a wonderful part of the choir. She’s got such a positive attitude.She’s always willing to lend a hand.”

The Twin Cities Women’s Choir, which began in 1997 with 16 members, now has nearly 150. Its mission is to support choral music by and for women.

Choir members support each other outside the concert hall, Beard said. Anyone who is going through a difficult time can turn to friends in their “section,” for help. If a member is recovering from surgery, her fellow singers visit them and arrange to have meals delivered.

If someone has a death in the family, members will attend and may be asked sing at the funeral.

“It’s very much like a church community,” Beard said. “Only it’s a singing group.”

If you go:

The annual Divas & Dessert gala will be held at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, 3450 Irving Avenue S. in Minneapolis. Advance tickets are $25 and $22 for students and seniors and $30 at the door. For more information, call 612-333-8292 or visit www.TwinCitiesWomensChoir.org.

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