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"The Singers" are back, but without Dale Warland

Many of Warland’s musicians have joined the new group.

For decades, the mellifluous sounds of the Dale Warland Singers (DWS) were a mainstay in the Twin Cities. Warland, a graduate of St. Olaf College, formed the choral group whose members often re-ferred to themselves, in shorthand style, as ‘The Singers.’
Two years ago Dale Warland decided to retire and close down his famous ensemble. According to Matthew Culloton, then a member of DWS, “The decision to form a new group with members of the existing one was made the day after Minnesota Public Radio announced Dale was closing the group down.”
Culloton, who has been named artistic director and conductor for the successor ensemble, told Metro Lutheran, “We were in Kansas City for a concert. The idea for the new group was actually conceived in a Kansas City hotel room.”
That was in spring 2003, a year before DWS dissolved. Culloton says, “An informal survey of members of the singing group made it pretty clear a lot of them wanted to keep going. So we decided we should.”
‘The Singers’ came into being last fall and sang its first series of concerts in early December — identical programs in St. Paul, St. Cloud and Wayzata. “Christmas with The Singers” featured Advent and Christmas music. Response was positive and strong. Says Leslie Quigley Cornils, the new group’s executive director, “After those first concerts, people were saying, ‘You really connected with us.’ That’s what we were hoping would happen.”
Thanks to F. Melius Christiansen, the founder of the St. Olaf College Choir, choral music has become a major part of the cultural scene in Minnesota, and in the Twin Cities in particular. That’s made for a proliferation of choral groups. Cul-loton, a graduate of Concor-dia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, says there’s room for all of them.
“Each has a niche. Some, like the Rose Ensemble, sing older material. Some, like VocalEssence, feature newer works. Some are small chamber choirs. Some, like ‘The Singers,’ are full-sized choirs. Exultate likes Bach. The National Lutheran Choir provides almost a worship experience at their concerts.”
Will ‘The Singers’ be a reincarnation of DWS or something new? Culloton says, “The connection to DWS is not a bad thing. But we’re something new and different. People should know they’re in for an eclectic concert when they come.”
The new group includes graduates of Augsburg, Con-cordia Moorhead, Luther, Martin Luther College, St. Olaf, the U. of M. and NDSU.
The next pair of concerts for ‘The Singers’ will be March 12 in St. Cloud and March 19 (8 p.m. at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis). The March concerts will feature music of Brahms, Howells, Pou-lenc, Gibbons and Tallis.
For more information, or for concert tickets, go to www. singersmca.org.