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Gar Lockrem Community Choir performs Saturday evening

Enjoy the music of the season and choral music from cultures and faiths around the world when the Gar Lockrem Community Choir presents "Miracles and Mysteries" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the United Methodist Church, 615 W. 15th St.

Garland O. Lockrem was a music teacher at Henry Sibley High School in West St. Paul for 26 years, from 1956 to 1982. He championed strong music programs as part of the regular school curriculum, at a time when music was not highly regarded as an academic discipline. Under his guidance, the music program at Henry Sibley grew into a nationally recognized program. His concert choirs toured Europe and performed several times here at home with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Lockrem's annual Christmas concerts at Sibley were patterned after his alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead. The artistic splendor and musicianship of those concerts were eagerly awaited at the holidays.

Lockrem was a man of deep faith and deep thought, a fact evidenced by readings from his personal journals at his funeral May 26, 2006, at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan. At the conclusion of the service, former students were invited to step onto risers and sing some of his favorite hymns. The risers were quickly filled.

Elizabeth Bertz-Westlund, a former student, established the Gar Lockrem Community Choir the same year. Gar's daughter, Terolle Turnham, a well-known music teacher and Minnesota Teacher of the Year, conducted the first concert in December 2006. She continues to sing with the choir today.

Another former high school teacher, William E. White, took over as music director in the spring of 2007. Under White's direction, the choir quickly grew in number and quality into one of the finest community choirs in Minnesota.

In the fall of 2010, White passed the baton on to the current director, Aaron Kapaun, who now leads the music program at Henry Sibley. GLCC continues to attract gifted singers from around the Twin Cities.

The GLCC has grown into a group of more than 50 active singers (plus nine more on temporary leave of absence), ranging in age from teens to the 80s. Many of the current singers never knew Lockrem; but knew other teachers who, like him, instilled in their students an understanding of the art and science of music, a sense of ethics and a life-long passion to learn and to sing inspired most.

In addition to performing about seven concerts a year, GLCC honors Lockrem's legacy by promoting greater awareness of the importance of music education through community outreach efforts, and by providing grants to local schools to help support music programs.

In addition to its regular winter and spring concerts, GLCC looks for opportunities to collaborate with other groups whenever possible. GLCC was selected as a solo choir at St. Olaf's annual choral festival in November 2009 and performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Dakota County Symphony Orchestra in February 2011.

This Saturday's concert at the United Methodist Church is free. A free will offering will be taken.