2018-08-09 / Outdoors

Summer Singers to close out Manitou Music series

When the Summer Singers take the stage Tuesday, 60 voices will create a chorus for the finale of the 28th annual Manitou Music Festival.

They’ll be paying tribute to the choir’s former director, Dana Allen.

Allen, who directed the Glen Arborbased community choir from 2014 to 2017, will be honored at the concert for her dedication to the group even after being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015.

“Dana’s enthusiasm and love of music has been an inspiration to the Summer Singers,” said choir member Cindy Graves. “We wanted to show our appreciation by dedicating this year’s concert to her.”

As a vocal and instrumental band teacher, Allen had a gift for leading and a passion for music, which Graves said made her such a well-loved director.

“She just had a real zest for getting people fired up about things,” Graves said.

And Allen’s family readily supported her efforts, evidenced by their upcoming contributions to the concert.

Allen’s stepmother, Mary Nieuwenhuis, will serve as a guest conductor for several pieces; her father, Bruce Nieuwenhuis, will sing bass; and Mary Nieuwenhuis’ sister, Liz Bert, will accompany the choir on the cello.

The song lineup will also feature several of Allen’s favorites from past concerts, including Let the River Run, Dona Nobis Pacem, I Dream a World and Seasons of Love from Rent.

Allen has left quite the legacy for the choir's new director, Mimi Gass, to follow. But Graves is confident in her abilities.

“She has a long standing career as a musician and is very talented,” Graves said.

In Graves’ opinion, the “community” part of a choir is most essential, and she’s confident it will continue to be just as strong due to Allen’s contributions.

“It was a natural thing to get involved for me when I retired up here,” said Graves. “It’s really nice to be able to sing with other people who share a love for music.”

For the past 16 summers, the Summer Singers volunteer choir has welcomed all to its weekly rehearsals to sing a mix of upbeat popular music and American standards at the Manitou Music Festival and the 4th of July flag raising at Old Settlers Park.

There is no cost to the attend the concert, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Glen Lake Community Reformed Church.

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