Sharing their gifts

TRACY – About four years ago, Marge Robinson handed over the reins of the annual Fine Arts Council of Tracy’s Celebration in Song to Katie Lanoue.

Lanoue soon realized how much work goes into putting together an afternoon of vocal and instrumental music.

“A lot of time spent on the phone and e-mailing,” Lanoue said.

This year’s Celebration in Song on Sunday at Tracy Lutheran Church was dedicated to Robinson, a longtime president of FACT, who died last week from cancer. At the beginning of the concert, Lanoue said Robinson holds a special place in their hearts, saying that she was a passionate supporter of the arts.

“I pray that Marge is watching us from above today,” Lanoue said.

Tracy Area High School graduate Celia Brockway sang a song from “Un Ballo in Maschera,” one of Verdi’s operas. Brockway remembers performing at her first Celebration in Song back when she was in the eighth grade. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Iowa and was happy to perform during her school’s break. She said it’s really great that a small community like Tracy can show what it has to offer as far as the arts are concerned.

“There’s a great amount of support for the arts in the community,” Brockway said.

Brockway said she’s relatively new to performing opera as she just done the piece a couple of times for class before singing it in front of community members on Sunday.

“It’s about a Mardi Gras party,” Brockway said about the piece.

Performers at Sunday’s show said they appreciated seeing the various talent.

“It’s fabulous,” said Sue Nelson of Lake Sarah Baptist Church’s praise team.

Tracy Elementary music teacher Donovan Hanson got to be part of the program.

“It was a lot of fun to hear things that you don’t hear all the time, to hear such talent,” Hanson said.

Melissa, Annika, Becca and Amelia Sahlstrom did a vocal quartet to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

“At home, me and my sisters sing all the time,” Annika Sahlstrom said. She said that “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one they like to sing while cleaning the kitchen.

Annika Sahlstrom also liked the variety of music that’s performed every year.

“It keeps it fresh, it’s entertaining,” Sahlstrom said.

Celebration in Song showcases people’s talents from around the community, said Deb Miller, FACT president, which includes teachers, nurses and dairy farmers.

“It’s fun to see those neighbors you don’t normally (see performing),” Miller said. “I love it because it lifts your spirits in January.”

Plus there’s always full roster of performers and a full house to see those performers, Miller said.

Miller and Lanoue said that Robinson was a strong presence with FACT.

“She’ll be greatly missed,” Lanoue said.

“Marge was the steamroller that got it going,” Miller said. “She just loved this kind of thing. She’ll be badly missed.”