A group of Osakis students will add their singing skills to an unusual event with an unusual name – “Real Men Sing!”
Nine Osakis High School students, ranging from eighth to 11th graders, will participate in the Real Men Sing Festival in Staples on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Staples Motley High School Gym, according to Nicole Mattfield, the new fifth through 12th grade Osakis choir director.
“I decided to offer this opportunity for the choir to participate because I think it's important for students to meet other choir members from the area schools, especially for young men,” said Mattfield. “They can realize that singing is a cool thing — after all, the event is called Real Men Sing! for a reason.”
Mattfield added that the students may even experience singing with boys from other schools who they may play against in sports. “Rather than this be a competitive event, this is an event that brings all those boys to one event to experience and perform great music together,” she said.
This is the 16th Real Men Sing Festival, which provides young men in middle school and high school choirs throughout Minnesota the opportunity to work under some of the best choral directors in the state, according to the Staples Area Men’s Chorus, which organizes the event.
The chorus books the facility, hires the guest conductors and a voice teacher, buys the music, provides an afternoon snack, and an evening meal for all participants.
In 2013, the chorus added a Real Men Sing Junior initiative.
“Logistically it made sense,” said Staples Area Men’s Chorus Director Steve Hoemberg in a news release. “Schools were already bringing buses, but they weren’t always full with just high school guys, so why not fill the empty seats with younger guys and make the festival even better?”
Participating schools are not limited to bringing only their “best” students, like many festivals. Instead, they are encouraged to bring all of their male singers to the festival.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to make music,” Hoemberg said. “Our very own chorus is made up of men of all ages and walks of life, including different levels of musical skill. We pride ourselves as an organization in being inclusive. If guys are willing to join our group, then they have earned the right to sing.”
Rehearsals and workshops are held during the morning and afternoon, prior to the concert.
Since 2003, Real Men Sing! and Real Men Sing Junior have featured more than 4,000 participants.
The event has gained notoriety throughout Minnesota and across the nation, including Wartburg College in Iowa.
Overall participation is expected to once again exceed 300 singers. The concert will also feature several select soloists.
“These kinds of events and traditions aren’t pulled off by organizations that aren’t highly organized with many dedicated and talented members,” said Don Hoffmann, a singer in the chorus and one of the group’s grant writers.
The Real Men Sing! conductor will be Dr. Matthew Ferrell, director of choral activities at St. Cloud State University, and the Real Men Sing Junior guest conductor will be Adam Reinwald, assistant director of the National Lutheran Choir and founding member of world-renowned male vocal ensemble, Cantus.
For more information, as well as information about other events of the Staples Area Men’s Chorus, go to www.staplesmen.org or visit their Facebook page under “staples area men’s chorus.” Tickets are also available online at www.staplesmen.org, at Nelson Insurance Agency on Second Avenue in Staples, and at the door.
The project was made possible by a grant provided by the Five Wings Arts Council with funds from the McKnight Foundation supplemented with Legacy funds.