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Published: Thursday, 10/20/2005

N.Y.-bound church choir tunes up with local concert

Practice has paid off for Toledo's Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament adult choir. The ensemble sets off for Carnegie Hall in New York next week when it performs alongside other nationally selected choirs at a Nov. 6 event sponsored by MidAmerica Productions.

Here in Toledo, music director Robert Rae will lead the choir in concert Sunday afternoon at Blessed Sacrament Church. Both the Toledo and New York concerts feature Haydn's 1796 "Mass in the Time of War."

The choir was invited to the New York performance last fall by Paul Stanberry, who directed the group in the 1970s. Stanberry was to conduct the New York performance but he was forced to cancel due to illness. Instead, the choir will sing under the direction of Richard Sparks, said Tom Ulrich, a choir member for the past 35 years.

In order to mitigate expenses, the choir has held a variety of fund-raisers ranging from car washes to bake sales. Last February, the group released a CD, which has sold more than 700 copies, said Mr. Ulrich.

The choir has about 40 members ranging in age from early 20s to 80s. Only 29 members will travel to New York.

MidAmerica Productions has been bringing together conductors, soloists, and ensembles from across the United States for 21 years. During that time, more than 2,100 ensembles and about 88,000 performers representing all 50 states have participated. Programs have taken place in New York's major venues, including Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Conductor Robert Rae leads the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament adult choir in a free program of music by Haydn and others at 3 p.m. Sunday at Blessed Sacrament Church, 4227 Bellevue Rd.

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