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Vespers marks of 75 years of Christmas tradition

POSTED December 16, 2011 2:27 p.m.

Members of the Great Bend High School A Cappell...

The Great Bend High School A Cappella Choir could be singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Diamond Christmas” at its annual Vespers Concert later today. After all, it is the diamond anniversary of the traditional religious concert that began in 1936.
Under the direction of Susan Stambaugh, USD 428 vocal music teacher, the concert starts at 2 p.m. today at the high school auditorium. It will begin with a processional of high school students, wearing red choir robes and carrying battery-operated candles, singing as they walk down the aisles of the dark auditorium.
Stambaugh said the concert is a long-standing tradition in this community. The first time the A Cappella Choir sang in public was at the Vespers Concert in 1936 and the community has made it a well-attended – even standing-room-only – event ever since.
While Stambaugh stresses tradition and the educational value of singing music originally commissioned for the early church, some of her students have a deeper connection to the music.
“It’s very powerful to be part of a tradition that’s lasted 75 years,” said Katlin Fuel, senior. “It’s really powerful to hear all of those voices. It’s an honor to be allowed to do something like this.”
Andrew Koster, senior, agreed.
“It’s a great spiritual time to bond with our fellow choir members,” he said.
“It’s our way of explaining to the community the reason for the season,” said Holly Mosier, senior. “Seventy-five years is a long time. I hope it lasts 75 more.”
Following the concert at 3:30 p.m., the Great Bend Youth Choir will perform. Fourth through eighth graders from the community auditioned to sing in the choir. It is jointly directed by all of the USD 428 music teachers.

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