The Best of Tim(es)

Since the fall of 2016, I have sung with Sonnenberg Station under the direction of Tim Shue. Last evening, Tuesday, March 19th, 2019, was Tim’s last concert to serve as director. He will be sorely missed. It was a privilege to be associated with such a class act. His wit, charm, humor, integrity, passion for music, and love of his colleagues and students is highly contagious.

I have multitudes of wonderful memories of evenings in rehearsal where we laughed ourselves to tears, but also of more difficult times where we shared tears of grief in support of our fellow musicians. For example, one Monday evening, all of the guys arrived to find that Tim had brought along his fuzzy, four-legged friend, Reinhart. Reinhart was full of energy that evening, and, as young, male dogs occasionally do, Reinhart showed a special affinity for Tim’s leg, all evening. So while the group attempted to master our repertoire, we had to do so amid outbursts of laughter, due to Tim having to simultaneously direct and wrestle an “excited” pup off his leg. This proved to be quite an evening to remember.

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Tim is always quick to joke at someone else’s expense but laughs even harder when it’s at his own. He cares deeply for his community, and I have seen him walk on water (ok, it was a shallow puddle and it was more like him “stepping in it,” but still…). I will miss spending my Monday evenings with him, but yet, I also wish him the very best as he moves on from this “song” in his life’s musical folder. I will always reflect on these past several years with fondness and consider them as the best of times in the “good ol’ days” that were spent among friends.

I look forward to what the future holds as Sonnenberg Station inaugurates Tim 2.0, that is, Tim Yoder, who happens to be one of my best friends. Tim (Yoder) has taken up the mantle to lead Sonnenberg Station onto the next stage of our musical journey, and I have complete confidence that there are many grand times ahead.

Shaun Rufener, Sonnenberg Manager

Posted on March 20, 2019 and filed under Musical Memories.

The Last Goodbye

Our next five Sonnenberg Station concerts are going to be good ones! I’m going to be savoring every note and memory because this will be my last season serving as its director. A dozen years ago, I was asked to bring leadership to a fledgling male ensemble, and I’m so glad I agreed! I’ve been able to be with some amazing men who are strong, funny, tender, and talented.

In checkout lines, restaurants, and other places where people gather, I’ve been the lucky recipient of affirmations from total strangers that come to our concerts faithfully and say how much it means to them; not just the music, but by seeing grown men doing something life-giving with unashamed passion and beauty. Music is important but developing a culture of active music making is even more important.

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I’ve always wanted to have the counter-intuitive wisdom to leave when things are going good, not bad! It is going very good, and it will be in safe hands with Tim Yoder taking over as director next fall. Perhaps I will sing in the future, but, for right now, I am looking forward to focusing on my school’s choirs next year as I return to teaching. Thanks to the thousands of people who have attended our concerts, and be sure to make one of the next five!

Tim Shue

Posted on March 5, 2019 and filed under Notes from the Director.

The Spring 2018 Season: A Word from our Director

I have been involved with Sonnenberg Station for the past 5 years. I joined as a second tenor and took over the accompanist role once Kevin Himes stepped away from the group. Choral music has always been a passion of mine and Sonnenberg Station is how I keep it in my life, considering my occupation as an elementary music teacher. Tim Shue was feeling as though he needed his spring seasons to be less hectic, so the idea was floated that I direct the group for the spring seasons; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

There are many different ways a choral concert can be planned. From light-hearted to deeply moving, Sonnenberg Station has been singing a varied repertoire from the beginning, and this season is no exception. We have our fair share of folk tunes, instrumental pieces, sacred choral works, and even a sea shanty.

I am excited to work with the group on the variety of sacred choral works that we are singing. There are a few pieces in our repertoire this season that I have been wanting to conduct or perform for years. One of them, “O Magnum Mysterium,” is a deeply beautiful and complex piece. It has harmonies that create a very intricate and delicate mood while still maintaining a soaring melody. Choirs that sing this piece are often challenged by its difficulty when trying to sustain proper vowels and intonation, all while singing 5 or 6 parts! Near the end of our concert, we contrast "O Magnum Mysterium" with a spiritual called, “Plenty Good Room.” Moses Hogan helps us show our range by switching the mood in a finger-snapping tune that encourages us all to settle into our seat in our “Father’s Kingdom”. There should be something for everybody!

Aside from being excited about directing a choral group, I was also excited about the possibility of arranging some songs for the group. I arranged a piece for this season called, “The Old Churchyard.”  You’ll hear it near the beginning of our concert with Nate Gundy on the guitar and Bill Seymour on the penny whistle. This song is a revised version of an early 19th century Scottish Song called, “The Old Kirk yard.” “Kirk” is a Scottish word that means church, or even more specifically can mean “the Church of Scotland.” I learned of this piece when I heard  Offa Rex (British singer Olivia Chaney coupled with The Decemberists) performing it on their new album of traditional English songs. It was a very haunting and beautiful song that I thought would be a wonderful choral piece if it were arranged properly. The words speak of the process of grieving. The song acknowledges the pain that we feel when a loved one is lost but also rests in the hope that on one bright day “sunshine will burst through these prisons of clay, and old Gabriel’s trumpet and voice of the Lord, will wake up the dead in the old churchyard”. Such a powerful message that is oftentimes painful to hear when grieving a loved one. We hope to do it justice! We look forward to seeing you.

-Tim Yoder

Posted on March 11, 2018 and filed under Notes from the Director.

Fall 2017 Concert Season

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Sonnenberg Station is a 17-voice men's choral ensemble based in Kidron, Ohio. For more than 10 years, the group has performed in over 50 different venues to appreciative audiences throughout Ohio. Each season offers diverse selections from contemporary to classical, hallowed to lighthearted, including arrangements by the group's director, Tim Shue.

This season's performances will inspire and uplift with a sprinkling of humor tossed in for good measure as the group adds their own flavor to pieces representing a variety of cultures, eras, and styles.

Join Sonnenberg Station as they share the Fall 2017 season's repertoire at the following venues:

Sun. Nov. 5 at 7pm: Faith Lutheran Church, Millersburg
Wed. Nov. 8 at 7pm: Wadsworth Trinity United Church of Christ, Wadsworth
Fri. Nov. 17 at 7pm: St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, Apple Creek
Sat. Nov. 18 at 7pm: Trinity United Methodist Church, Orrville
Sun. Nov. 19 at 7pm: St. Timothy’s Episcopalian Church, Massillon

Concerts and details are subject to change. Please confirm dates, times, and venues before attending. Please check back here and at www.sonnenbergstation.org and on our Facebook page for updates. A love offering will be taken at each performance.

Posted on October 20, 2017 and filed under Concert Schedule.

Sonnenberg Station's Spring 2017 Season

Sonnenberg Station is an 18-voice men's choral ensemble based in Kidron, Ohio. Now in its 10th year, the group has performed in more than 50 different venues to appreciative audiences throughout Ohio. Each season offers diverse selections from contemporary to classical, hallowed to lighthearted, including arrangements by the group's director, Tim Shue. 

This season's performances will inspire and uplift with a sprinkling of humor tossed in for good measure as the group adds their own flavor to pieces representing a variety of cultures, eras, and styles.

Join Sonnenberg Station as they share this season's repertoire at the following venues:

Sat.  April 22, 7pm Cornerstone Community Church; Dalton
Sun. April 23,  7pm Smithville Mennonite Church
Mon. April 24, 7pm Maple Terrace at Orrvilla
Sat. April 29, 7pm Fohl Memorial United Methodist Church with Fairless High School Men's Ensemble)                   
Sun. April 30, 7pm Trinity United Church of Christ; Wooster with meal. Time TBA. 
Sun. May 7, 7pm Sonnenberg Mennonite Church  (with Central Christian Singing Comets)

Concerts and details are subject to change. Please confirm dates, times, and venues before attending. Please check back here and at www.sonnenbergstation.org and on our Facebook page for updates. A love offering will be taken at each performance.

Posted on March 21, 2017 .

Group celebrates 10 years of friendship and music

From the Holmes County Bargain Hunter:

Group celebrates 10 years of friendship and music

By Ellen Pill

Tim Shue, the director of Sonnenberg Station, settled into his chair and smiled. He said, “The group started before it had a name. It was just eight friends that had an interest in singing.” 

After six months or so the group approached Shue and asked if he’d like to provide some leadership for the singers. It was a perfect match for the choir director who lives in the area, and he was happy to give up a commuting gig for one much closer to home. 

Gradually the director started issuing invitations to add more singers. They currently have 18 members. During their second season it was decided that they probably could use a name for the group. 

At that time they were rehearsing at the Sonnenberg Mennonite Church. “A lot of the guys have ancestral roots to the community,” Shue said. “My great-grandmother was from here, one of the Swiss Mennonites.”

The Sonnenberg Station was a rural Ohio train depot near the church where they rehearsed. Although the train station is now a feed mill, it’s still “a kind of local landmark,” Shue said. “Since a lot of us were connected here, it has geographical connotations, so rather than choosing some over-used Italian music term like ‘The Allegros’ or something, it’s really nice to have a local connection with the name.”

The group usually performs around five concerts per season. Often they are invited to sing, and sometimes they find an intriguing venue and will ask to perform. “We like to sing in beautiful, acoustical spaces,” Shue said. “For probably one of my favorite seasons I wanted to highlight some of the oldest churches in Wayne County. We did that two years ago. It took us to not necessarily large venues but special venues from an historical standpoint. Oftentimes the older churches have great acoustics because they were built for that before microphones and sound systems.” 

What kind of music is the audience likely to enjoy at a Sonnenberg Station concert? “We like to sing a variety, and the audience likes to hear a variety. We do spirituals, folk, classical ... Every year we try to do a comical number, something with a little twist.” 

Shue arranges one song per season for the group. They mostly sing a cappella with some songs accompanied on piano by chorus member Tim Yoder. 

The members come from all around to take part in Sonnenberg Station. Rehearsals are now conducted in Kidron with members coming from the local area as well as Millersburg, Streetsboro, Wadsworth and Charm. With the current 18 members the number feels just right and isn’t likely to expand. 

This year celebrates the 10th year the men have been gathering to sing and perform. Shue shared his ideas about what keeps the group going. “I think that thing that has nourished us for this long is that we see that the community seems to value what we do. I don’t think it’s just musical. I think they are inspired that a group of men are getting together to do something artistic and beautiful. We have people I don’t even know who follow us to our concerts, like rock band groupies,” he said with a laugh. 

Continuing more seriously, Shue said, “It’s really very touching [the stories we hear]. It takes us into really rich experiences. We had no idea it would ever go 10 years.” 

Jordan King, a native of Dalton, drives an hour from his home in Streetsboro once a week for the rehearsals. “This is my second year. It’s been a great experience. It’s really rewarding ... and it’s just fun getting out there and singing. All the guys are great.”

In his fifth season with the group, Clinton Miller’s father was an original member of the chorus. “They needed another low baritone, so here I am. You meet different people ... It’s fun to connect with an audience. It makes all the rehearsal worthwhile.”

Dave Risser is new to the group this season and enjoying the experience. “It’s great to get to know other guys with the same passions ... This is really fun music to sing. It’s challenging ... Tim is an excellent director.” 

It’s clearly about more than the music for this closely-knit group of talented friends. “We always joke,” Shue said, “about how other guys get together and watch football or go bowling. This is kind of our bowling league. It’s not just about the music ... If I was to choose who I wanted to hang out with, these are the people. As an adult it’s pretty rare that you get a chance to sing. This is a cool opportunity to make music, and we’re pleasantly surprised that people want to keep hearing us. We do it because we love it, and to have an audience is a bonus.”

Area audiences can enjoy Sonnenberg Station’s heartfelt, eclectic and enthusiastic performances throughout the coming season. There is never a ticket price. The group simply asks for donations to cover their expenses. Find them at www.sonnenbergstation.org and on Facebook.

Posted on October 24, 2016 and filed under Newspaper Article.

Fall 2016 Season

This coming Sonnenberg Station season marks 10 years of music and memories! Please mark your calendar to join us for one of the upcoming performances, some locations yet-to-be announced.

Saturday, October 29 at 7pm: Music on Market in Wooster
Saturday, November 12: TBD
Saturday, November 19: TBD
Sunday, November 20: TBD

 

Posted on August 23, 2016 .

Meet the Sonnenberg Singers: Winfred Ressler

Meet the Sonnenberg Station Singers!

Winfred Ressler is from Kidron, Ohio and has been a part of Sonnenberg Station since its beginning in 2006. His hobbies--in addition to singing, of course--include sports, beekeeping, gardening, cooking (and eating), and spending time with his wonderful wife, Barb, and daughters, Olivia (22), Anna, (18), and Sarah (16).

When asked how he first started singing with Sonnenberg Station, his response was, "Willingly."
"For some reason, I love making music," Winfred says. "I've been involved in some kind of vocal group since high school. Being in Sonnenberg Station gives me the opportunity to not just sing, but to sing quality music, performing it well in many wonderful settings."

Winfred says that since their inception, the group's sound has improved and he believes it continues improving each year.

"Sonnenberg Station also feels a bit like a small group," Winfred says. "Living in a household full of women, it's nice to be able to get together with a group of guys."

Make plans to experience Sonnenberg Station Men's Ensemble at one of this season's performances.

Sunday, November 8 at 7pm: Maple Grove Mennonite Church, Hartville, OH
Monday, November 9 at 7pm: Fairless High School, Navarre, OH
Saturday, November 21 at 7pm: Berlin Mennonite Church, Berlin, OH
Sunday, November 22 at 7pm: Central Christian School, Kidron, OH
Monday, November 23 at 7pm: St. James Episcopal Church, Wooster, OH.

Concerts and details are subject to change. Please confirm dates, times, and venues before attending. Please check back here and at www.sonnenbergstation.org for updates. A love offering will be taken at each performance.

Posted on November 2, 2015 and filed under Singer Bios.

Meet the Sonnenberg Singers: Craig Strasbaugh

Craig Strasbaugh has been singing with Sonnenberg Station Men's Choral Ensemble for five seasons. Here, he shares a bit about himself, his family, and his love of music and life.
"I was a middle school transplant to Dalton, Ohio from the urban world of Tampa, Florida. Even though I currently live in Orrville, my roots are still stuck in the dirt of the family farm where I have been the 7th generation to reside and my girls are the 8th to explore and get dirty.
I met my wife Jenny (yes, we are Jenny Craig) working summers at Camp Luz, which continues to be a place of great importance to our family. In August, we added daughter three, Aubrey, to our household. Her older sisters, Elena and Marita, treat life as a musical and every book as a hymnal- leaving us grateful for them as well as in stitches over their productions.
Other than singing, I love to run, cook, play frisbee, crochet, color with a good box of Crayolas, and spend time with high schoolers and junior high schoolers (I seriously don't understand how people can NOT like junior high kids). Add a love for books and writing, and I practically have no time for a job.
I am now in my 5th season- I think- with Sonnenberg Station. I think I got pulled in out of desperation to fill a second tenor slot a few practices into a season, and they just haven't kicked me out yet. It has been a great creative outlet and group of guys to connect with.
Really, I just fell in love with choral music once I learned to read music as a seventh grader. Sonnenberg Station is such a fun group to grow with. We laugh as much as we practice (You could even say we should hush up and practice more. Sorry Tim!). Besides, it is one of the few places I spend consistent time with grownups, so it is a real treat.
I have not yet settled on a favorite song this season, but my daughters would say "Dirait-on" because they like when I sing it to them at bed time."
We invite you to see Craig and the rest of the singers of Sonnenberg Station Men's Ensemble at one of this season's performances.
Sunday, November 8 at 7pm: Maple Grove Mennonite Church, Hartville, OH
Monday, November 9 at 7pm: Fairless High School, Navarre, OH
Saturday, November 21 at 7pm: Berlin Mennonite Church, Berlin, OH
Sunday, November 22 at 7pm: Central Christian School, Kidron, OH
Monday, November 23 at 7pm: St. James Episcopal Church, Wooster, OH.
Concerts and details are subject to change. Please confirm dates, times, and venues before attending. Please check back here and at www.sonnenbergstation.org for updates. A love offering will be taken at each performance.

Posted on October 24, 2015 and filed under Singer Bios.