Rockford Area Historical Society

Museum fundraiser just keeps getting better

January 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

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 […]

Nationally recognized band coming to Rockford

December 22, 2011 // 0 Comments

Band to accompany Mark Randisi, the ‘Sound of Sinatra’ Johnny Trudell is regarded as one of today’s finest trumpet players and is the respected director of the Johnny Trudell Orchestra/Big Band. He has performed with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Tex Beneke, and Quincy Jones. He has also served as lead trumpet player for Motown Records, recording with such greats as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations, and The Four Tops. Trudell is the music director for Detroit’s Fox Theater and his famed orchestra has backed the legendary Bob Hope, Wayne Newton, Tony Bennett, Johnny Carson, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bill Cosby. They have also played for various Broadway shows including Evita, Gypsy, The King and I, Fiddler On The Roof, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and many others. Trudell also serves as music director of The Gem Theatre and the Meadow Brook Music Festival, and now… he is bringing his band to Rockford! This event is a rare Rockford opportunity for an evening of vocal and instrumental music that you won’t want to miss. Close your eyes or turn your head. You’ll hear a great band and a familiar voice, but it won’t be “Old Blue Eyes.” It will be Mark Randisi, presenting Sinatra classics naturally, authentically, respectfully and reminiscent of the originals, just the way you want to hear them. Author, radio and television host Mitch Album has been to Randisi’s shows, and proclaimed, “Mark’s show is a must-attend!” Lee Thomas of Detroit’s Fox 2 Entertainment stated, “Mark Randisi is a first rate act all the way.” The Saturday, Feb. 18 performance is a fundraising event for the Rockford Area Historical Society. Tickets, starting at just $35, make a great gift and are available in time for Christmas. For more information, visit the show’s website at Tickets can be bought there with a debit or credit card. Tickets are also available by cash or check at these area locations: The Rockford Squire, Antor Travel, Double Take, Creative Concepts, Rockford Ambulance, Courtland Township Offices, Algoma Township Offices, and Dish Network (Plainfield, south of 5 Mile). Limited handicapped and limited-mobility seats are available by calling (616) 350-3959.


December 22, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford Area Historical Society News and Updates Dear Editor, The opportunity to improve our local museum by relocating it to the vacant Rockford Courthouse building has appealed to the giving spirit of many individuals and businesses not only in our area but also from other places. Pledges and donations have been received on a daily basis from all over the place. Many of those, but not all, donating have ties to our area and realize that the time is now to help improve our museum situation and to make a change that will affect our community in a positive way. We need a new museum! I feel that it is important to emphasize that we need a better building to continue to do the job of preserving and presenting our history. A better, larger building will allow the display of things not available for display presently because of lack of space. A new museum will allow for easier public access to our displays and our research areas. Our new museum will have restrooms and storage space. Our new museum will be safer and public parking will be much easier. Please notice that everything mentioned so far has to do with the building improvements, but there is more. We need to have a museum that is open on a regular basis. Our present museum is not open enough because volunteers (docents) are not always available. We try to have regular summer hours but sometimes volunteers are not able to fill all of the time slots. We are not open in the winter on a regular basis. We are open by appointment and volunteers handle that. Volunteers also open the museum for Rockford student tours and other group outings. It is time to emphasize that our volunteers do a great job! We have had some hardworking museum directors who have donated their time and energy to run our museum. People like Katherine Mancell, Kathy Cornwell, Susie Fair, Char Guzin and present director, Pat Frye and her assistant Janet Matthews, have all been important in keeping our museum alive. They were not paid money for their efforts. All of the docents who worked with them over the years also were not paid. The directors and docents are not the […]

Rockford Area Historical Society news and updates

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

By TERRY KONKLE President As many people know, the Rockford Area Historical Society believes that the preservation and presentation of our history is important. A major goal of the group is to help fund a museum to display our history and to educate all ages as to what has happened in our area over the years. Right now our society, with the help of others, is working to create a major change for our area. We need lots of help from people, organizations and businesses to make a positive impact on our history. Members of the Rockford Area Historical Society along with many other people in our community continue to work toward moving the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its present location to the vacant portion of the Rockford District Court building. Fundraising has been going on for about three months, and we have received many pledges and money toward the project. We have also had offers of help with the cost of construction from several businesses. As of December 1, 2011 we have commitments for close to $120,000. This is about one third of what we projected to the city of Rockford ($340,000) to be needed to finance the move.  Because of the offers of in kind help, the total cost should be lower than the $340,000. Fundraising brochures, which explain our project and show how to pledge or donate, are available at many local businesses including the Rockford Squire, Herman’s Boy and Antor Travel and by contacting the society (Terry Konkle 616-866-0530). It has been brought to our attention that the partial Michigan tax credit  for donations to groups like a museum will NOT be tax deducible in Michigan after this year, so donors should be aware of it when making donations (make them before the end of the year). The Rockford Area Historical Society and the Rockford Area Community Endowment are both 501 (c) (3) non profit organizations. The society has a fundraising event planned for Saturday, February 18, 2012 when Mark Randisi will bring his outstanding Frank Sinatra show,”THE SOUND OF SINATRA” to the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Publicity and ticket sales information is in place and tickets are already being sold on line at and at the following area locations: Antor Travel-Northland Drive and12 Mile, Double Take-Rockford, […]

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