Bluff Country Singers group performing in Spring Valley, Dec. 8

Even veteran Bluff Country Singers fans will be surprised at the opening of this year’s Christmas Concert on Sunday, Dec. 8. Both the 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. performances will begin with expressions of JOY the likes of which seldom reach the ears of even the most dedicated Christmas music fans.

This opening, resonating with baritone saxophone notes, seven member brass ensemble, piano, and 40 voices, will make the builders of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Spring Valley glad that the rafters are firmly attached to the walls.

That brass ensemble returns at the end of the concert to help bring the audience to its feet with the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

In between is a feast of carefully curated Christmas arrangements and solos impeccably directed by Elliott Grandall and accompanied by Suzanne Eberle on the Our Savior’s grand.

There is always a risk, especially with seasonal music, that a selection brought out year after year with only a minor dusting-off may take on a rote, repetitive quality.

However, with a group that pays attention to careful conducting, familiarity is used as an opportunity for more intimate expression rather than an easy path from rehearsal to performance.

This is most certainly true of the 40 voice Bluff Country Singers and Elliott Grandall. Of particular note: “Where Shepherds Lately Knelt”, “He is Born” (this year augmented with Katie Eickhoff on oboe who also solos in “O Come Immanuel” and “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming”), “Masters In This Hall," and “Sleigh Ride” as well as a solo performance of “O Holy Night” by Amanda Geer.

New selections and arrangements this year include: “Antiphonal Gloria” in yet another surprise setting; “Carillon on a Ukrainian Bell Carol” with David Grandall on the pipe organ; “Sans Day Carol;" “The Christmas Waltz;" a rousing contemporary version of “Let us Rejoice, Christ is Born”; and a whimsical “Fum, Fum, Fum."

The audience will have an opportunity to sing “Angels We Have Heard on High” during the free-will offering.

Members of Bloomfield Cloverleafs 4-H club will provide and serve refreshments following the afternoon performance.

This season’s Bluff Country Singers:

Soprano: Hisako Eppen, Pam Freet, Sally Jeske, Amanda Geer, Myrna Legried, Wendy Moon, Liz Newberg, Darlene Popadak, Gail Rollie, Candis Wiste and Judy Wille.

Alto: Deb Dahl, Loretta Ascheman, Anna Enderle, Karen Grandall, Annette Johnson, Janet Kappers, Jenna Moon, Sue Krahn, Julie Mlinar, Pam Nelson, Ellen Rollie, Carol Gross, Carol Skare, Brenda Staudinger and Danette Steinmetz.

Tenor: Myron Allen, Marcy Capelle, Harlan Eickhoff, James Engesser, Garry Post, Jake Stacken, Nancy Stender and Naomi Stukey.

 Bass: Jon Dahl, Dick Jahn, Kirby Johnson, Doc Lyon, John Martinka and Jeff Thauwald.

Brass Ensemble: Trumpet: Josh Hogberg and the Rev. Rolf Svanoe; Horn: Charlie Emig and Megan Hammon; Trombone: Kevin Geer; Baritone: June Torrison; Baritone saxophone: Trey Pokorney.

The Bluff Country Singers is devoted to performing music of all types with annual Christmas and spring concerts.

The next spring concert will be performed April 26, 2020. Area musicians interested in joining Bluff Country Singers are invited to contact Elliott Grandall at 507-346-7882.