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Mill City Singers' 2017-18 Season Recap

Article by Claudia Kittock

Photo credit: Ryan Ojard

What a season! The Mill City Singers' 2017-18 season surpassed every goal we set. It has been a year of singing with both old and new friends and in new venues. One of the magical things about this group is that new singers joined us at every one of the 30 rehearsals we had. Every rehearsal...think about that. It has also been fascinating to ask newcomers how they happened to join our community. The answers are always surprising. They range from "I read about it on Facebook" to a young couple sightseeing at the Guthrie being approached by a Singer who asked them if they liked to sing. Each of them is now firmly ensconced in the group.

We rehearsed for 30 Saturdays throughout the year. Our rehearsals are held at the Guthrie in a rehearsal room on the 8th floor, from 2:00-3:30pm. Everyone is welcome, and attendance is not recorded. We understand adults live real lives with real complications, so people are encouraged to come when they can. Everyone is welcome to every rehearsal.

The Singers were founded by and supported by the Friends of the Mill District charity.  Every project supported by the Friends is free to participants. We know that the only way to remove to remove barriers, so money is never a consideration. The Friends raise the money to pay for the salaries of JD and Fred Steele through grants and donations from our generous group of donors. We are blessed with a neighborhood of friends who offer us financial support, an MRAC grant, and a charity that provides all the supportive work on a voluntary basis.

Our season began with rehearsals on September 9th. The first performance was at the Capri Theater on October 17th. If you have never been to the Capri, you have a treat coming. It is a wonderful venue on North Broadway. A restored movie theater that has now become a performance venue, the Capri is always filled to capacity and by the end of the evening, the entire audience is on their feet clapping and singing with all of us. The Capri concerts also include the Capri Glee and the MacPhail Youth Community Choir. We perform separately and then end the evening all onstage singing together.

We also discovered this group loves to party. At least twice a year, Rick and Claudia Kittock host a choir party. It is the easiest party possible. We open the doors, and a party breaks out. Everyone brings a dish to pass and a beverage of choice and that's it. We laugh, we hug, we laugh some more, we tell stories, and then we hug ‘goodbye’. To say "a good time was had by all" is an underestimate for this group.

Caroling for Winterfest, sponsored by the Friends of the Mill District, has becoming another annual event. We did that on December 2nd, and loved walking our beloved Mill District singing at the top of our voices.  People coming into the Guthrie to see A Christmas Carol joined in, honked as they drove, and some even stopped to ask who we were and where did we come from!

January is our hiatus month. It is a good time for a break for travel and/or recovery from the holidays. We have also found that as the month of January progresses, we all miss the Singers more with every passing day and the return in February is joyful and exciting.

In March, we were thrilled to perform in the Target Atrium of Orchestra Hall. The Singers were invited to become community partners with the Orchestra and were able to sing on two nights in March. Led by the magical JD and accompanied by the incredibly talented Fred, the audience grew and grew until people were spilling into the hallways. Part of this program is that each singer received a ticket for the Orchestra event on one of the evenings we sang. What a thrill! We had a wonderful time, yet again.

May and June were incredibly busy. We sang at the Capri Theater again, had another Singer party, and added performances at the Loring Park Music Festival, the Twins game (singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame), and ending the year with a moving performance at the Ordway. The Ordway event, Epilogue, was an evening of speakers, videos and music by the Singers all around the theme of the Vietnam War. We sang Glory, You’ve Got a Friend, Turn, Turn, Turn and Let It Be.

If all of this sounds too good to be true, come find out. Our new season begins on September 15th, with our first performance at CedarFest on September 16th. You read that right! It should be great fun on an outdoor stage next to The Cedar. Interested? Contact Claudia Kittock at I don’t think you want to miss the chance to make music with friends and neighbors. 

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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