Concert supports historical church
“Surely the presence of the Lord was in this place!” exclaimed a past concert attendee. Beautiful music will resound in Hoven’s St. Anthony of Padua “Cathedral on the Prairie” on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. Two large choirs, two accomplished soloists, an engaging narrator, and a 24-piece orchestra will be featured at a grand pre-Christmas concert with the theme “Love’s Pure Light.”
A 56-member All-Faiths Regional Festival Choir, directed by Michael Coyne and rehearsals accompanied by Rhonda Strouckel, and Northern State University’s 39-member Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Timothy Woods, are again honored to perform with Conductor Thomas Fortner and the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO).
One past concert goer wrote, “Wow! What a wonderful way to begin Advent!”
Dr. Timothy Woods, who was the concert guest soloist in 2015, brings Aberdeen’s NSU Chamber Singers for their tenth year. He considers his Hoven performances among career highlights. Thomas Fortner, SDSO’s assistant conductor since 2017, comes to Hoven for his second time conducting at the Christmas on the Prairie Concert.
“Beautiful church, polite ushers, lovely setting, and great sounds of music from both of the choirs and the symphony!” another past concert-goer wrote, adding, “We enjoyed the afternoon in Hoven. Keep up the good work.”
Two featured soloists and narrator
Featured concert soloists are Baritone John Moore and Soprano Michelle Monroe.
John Moore garners praise in the United States and Europe for his energetic performances for both operas and concerts. A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, Moore’s reviews relate how he comfortably commands the stage with his “muscular-based beautiful booming baritone.”
Michelle Monroe, dedicated teacher and versatile performer, appears frequently as a soloist with regional orchestras. Monroe received special praise for her performances of Jeremy Beck’s monodrama Black Water and Jake Heggie’s cycle Eve-Song. Critics wrote of her voice, “Just glorious… its range, nuance, and beauty – [her] command of dramatic shape and musical details… all just marvelous… she was truly engaging.”
Narrator Tom Roberts, who lives with his wife Tammy in Sioux Falls, is originally from the Ipswich/Aberdeen area. Their lengthy affiliation with the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota (CHS) led to a CHS fundraising children’s book, ‘Twas the Night Before Christ. The couple continues to be deeply involved with CHS, and Roberts continues to donate proceeds from his books to CHS. For over 28 years, Roberts performed and taught theater throughout the Midwest and overseas.
Traditionally, as the concert nears its end, the audience is invited to join the SDSO, both choirs, soloists, and St. Anthony’s Choir Accompanist, Alice Simon, on the church’s 17-rank, 1,127-pipe organ to sing Silent Night and Joy to the World. The combined choirs and soloists join the SDSO for the grand finale, the time-honored “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah.
Concert coordinators in Hoven are Noreen Glodt and Colleen Simon. Although Simon has always sung in the All-Faiths Festival Chorus, this is the first year she has helped with concert preparation in the church office. “As a chorus member, it always seemed like the
concert details magically came together,” Simon said, adding jovially, “Now, I know it isn’t magic! So many people are busy helping behind the scenes. I have really enjoyed seeing the concert from this side of things.”
Following the two-hour concert, patron ticket holders will fill Hoven’s American Legion Hall, festively decorated by Lynda Wagner, for a meal provided by Cheryl’s Catering Service that includes beef bourguignon, candied honey-buttered baby carrots, fresh-baked artisan breads, and an assorted array of desserts.
Credits to many
Affectionately called the “Cathedral on the Prairie” because of its mammoth size, several volunteers in the Hoven area are enthusiastically preparing to host St. Anthony’s 15th annual pre-Christmas concert and gala reception.
Larger cities may have concert halls, but because of the marvelous acoustics in St. Anthony’s “Cathedral on the Prairie” and the generous volunteer spirit of local people, every first Sunday in December, Hoven, population 400+, proudly welcomes it’s guests, causing the population to briefly swell to over 1,000. “One has to see the church to truly appreciate the work of the ancestors who built it, and the dedication of the present-day parish that maintains it,” wrote an attendee of last year’s concert. Tickets are available by calling St. Anthony’s Rectory at 605-948-2451, Ext. 5, during normal business hours.