Red Kettle Concert marks 10th anniversary

November 29, 2018

A holiday tradition will reach a milestone this Sunday as the 10th annual Dodge County Salvation Army Red Kettle Concert is held at 4 p.m. in the Beaver Dam High School Auditorium.

It all began humbly enough when the Trinity Church-United Methodist Handbell Choir decided to ring bells for the benefit of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. Beaver Dam Noon Kiwanis had taken over organizing the local Red Kettle effort, and the handbell choir wanted to help.

“We had tried ringing bells at Shopko, but we have a lot of equipment and that didn’t work well,” Joanne Tyjeski said.

Tyjeski, Sally Cupery and Karl Nienhuis started the concert tradition. For the last seven years, Tyjeski and Nienhuis have organized the concert with help from Trinity Church and the Beaver Dam Noon Kiwanis Club.

Other choirs learned of the endeavor and were happy to join in. In the first year, Trinity Church-United Methodist, St. John’s Lutheran and Grace Presbyterian came together along with the Beaver Dam Middle School Jazz Choir to hold the concert at Trinity Church.

“It became apparent from the start that we would need a bigger venue, so in the second year it was moved to the Beaver Dam High School Auditorium,” Tyjeski said.

The concert is enthusiastically supported by area residents who are keen on supporting local causes. According to Tyjeski, all of the money collected through the campaign — and the concert — stays in Dodge County to help people fill their basic living needs. In the previous nine years, almost $38,300 has been raised.

One of the treasured attractions of the event is combined church choirs that form the Ecumenical Choir.

“This is an amazing opportunity for musicians that generally perform on Sunday mornings at our individual churches to get together and hear what everyone is doing, and to join together,” Tyjeski said. “It is so moving to hear all the voices unite at the beginning and the end of the concert.”

Church choir directors take turns leading the group, which includes 70-75 singers. This year, Cheryl Zieman is directing its members.

Pastors from each of the participating churches take turns hosting the event. This year, the welcome and benediction will be provided by the Rev. Cherie Forret of Trinity Church.

There are other special attractions as well.

“We have a great group of musicians this year,” Tyjeski said. “We are excited to welcome back Connor Klavekoske on piano. He has played in the past and is excited to return. The last number of years, John Landdeck has been entertaining the audience with his original arrangements of Christmas carols. New to the concert this year is Kate Rush on the violin.”

Holiday music includes both traditional favorites and non-traditional music and arrangements as well. In addition to individual church choirs, for example, the S4 Saxophone Quartet will perform “God Rest Ye Merry Hepcats.”

All musicians face the challenge of taking on another commitment during the holiday season.

“This is the busiest time of year for church musicians and pastors, and I really appreciate that they take time to do this every year,” Tyjeski said. “It has become a tradition in Beaver Dam and it is my hope that it kicks off the Christmas season with great music and generous donations for the Salvation Army.”

There is no cost to attend, although donations will be gratefully accepted. Bell ringers will be posted in the high school commons area after the event. Checks should be made payable to the Dodge County Salvation Army. Donations may also be mailed to the SARK Campaign, c/o Jamie Henning, American Bank, 115 Front St., Beaver Dam, WI, 53916.

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