Museum fundraiser just keeps getting better

Featuring Mark Randisi and the famous Johnny Trudell Big Band being joined on stage by a local group to recreate a famous Frank Sinatra scene, “Sound of Sinatra” will be presented by the Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium. The scene features Sinatra singing the song “High Hopes” with a group of youngsters. In the February 18 show, that song will be sung by Randisi and the Rockford Community Children’s Choir.

Many area residents are familiar with the Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) that supports a variety of area events such as the annual Ice Festival and Art in the Park, as well as performance groups including the Rockford Community Band, Rockford Community Orchestra, and Rockford Community Choir. The Rockford Community Children’s Choir (RC3) is the latest ensemble to collaborate with the RAAC.

RC3 was formed in September 2011, by Renee Vande Wege, a local resident with strong credentials as both a vocalist and music teacher. Vande Wege has earned a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from Hope College and a master’s degree in music education from Michigan State University. She is also certified in music learning theory. She has worked with elementary musicians and private voice students in Rockford, Cedar Springs and Grand Rapids. Vande Wege has also been a member of the Opera Grand Rapids chorus since 2001.

Having been a member of the Rockford Community Choir for six years, Vande Wege now serves as that group’s director. She was motivated to form RC3 by her strong desire to provide area youngsters with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and sing with other children. She believes that, except through the efforts of a handful of dedicated churches in the area, those opportunities are too limited, especially with the current school music program reductions due to budget constraints.

In 2012, RC3 will become more visible in the area as they perform in a variety of events including the “Sound of Sinatra” show for the Rockford Area Museum, the RAAC Spring Concert on April 15, and likely Rockford’s Community EXPO on March 17.

The second session for RC3 begins on January 10, 2012. Rehearsals are held on Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. Session II singers will be performing “High Hopes” with Randisi for the museum fundraiser. Any youngsters with an interest in developing their vocal talents in a fun atmosphere are invited to join. More information about RC3, the Rockford Community Choir, and music classes for young children can be found on Vande Wege’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/reneevandewege/home.

It is true that if you close your eyes or turn your head during the show, you’ll hear a great band and a familiar voice that might make you think you are listening to “Old Blue Eyes” himself. But this show offers even more: a fine group of local youngsters enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience of appearing on stage with world class entertainers in an inviting atmosphere while helping to create an exciting new museum that will benefit the entire area.

Tickets are available online at www.ramshow2012.com and at several Rockford area locations, starting at only $35. Ticket sales through the holidays have been strong. Anyone interested is urged to order tickets as soon as possible. For a truly special evening, there are a limited number of VIP tickets available with guaranteed “up front” seating and a post-show “meet and greet” reception with hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and a chance to meet Randisi. Tickets for wheelchairs and limited mobility seats are also very limited. Those can be ordered by calling (616) 350-3959.

For more information about the show, the museum or tickets, visit the show’s website at www.ramshow2012.com.

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