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Something to sing about

| Glen Mabie

Every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 o'clock, the sound of singing can be heard coming from the Greendale Community Church in suburban Milwaukee. It is the sound of joy, the sound of passion, the sound of Blugolds coming together.

It is the sound of the Chant Claire Chamber Choir, the melodious brainchild of UW-Eau Claire alumnus Benjamin Bedroske. After he graduated with a bachelor of music education degree in 2011, he moved to Milwaukee and began his career as a teacher. But Bedroske felt something was missing, something he was unable to find in Wisconsin's largest city.

"I sang with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Chorus for a season and enjoyed it, but it was a different kind of experience from what I was looking for," Bedroske said. "I didn't find anything in the Milwaukee area that really fit my need, and that was kind of the impetus to start this group."

So he formed Chant Claire. The name is French and means clear song. He took the name from a summer choral group he organized with a friend while still a student. There are about 30 members in the choir, and Bedroske said half of them are Blugolds.

"That was part of the reason why I thought starting a new group would be so great," Bedroske said. "I knew so many of the friends I had sung with in college were in the Milwaukee metro."

One of those friends is Lauren Schell, who is entering her second year as a music teacher at Kennedy Middle School in Germantown. Schell said Chant Claire gave her the musical outlet she was looking for outside the classroom.

"Just being able to be in a group with high-caliber musicians is huge," said Schell, who received a bachelor of music education degree in 2012. "My soul was searching for that kind of experience, where people took the music seriously and practiced outside of rehearsal."

Reconnecting with fellow Blugolds was one benefit for Amber Hayden, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in music in 2007 and a bachelor's in mass communication-public relations in 2010. But more important, she said, was filling what she called a musical void in her life.

"I wouldn't give it up for the world," Hayden said. "I look forward to rehearsals every week."

The choir began practicing in fall 2013 and has performed two Milwaukee concerts —at All Saints Cathedral and Alverno College. Chant Claire also has joined with other choirs for joint performances. One of those events combined three choirs led by Blugolds. Chant Claire joined the UW-Eau Claire Concert Choir, under the direction of professor Gary Schwartzhoff, director of choral activities at UW-Eau Claire, and the Muskego High School Concert Chorale, directed by Matthew Wanner, a 1998 UW-Eau Claire music education graduate.

Bedroske, who is a choral director at Hamilton High School in Sussex and at St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Milwaukee, is now planning for Chant Claire's second full season, which includes another Blugold connection.

"What's being planned for the first concert this coming spring is a program of all Wisconsin composers," Bedroske said. "We'll probably feature several composers from UW-Eau Claire as well as music from composers from around the state and possibly some arrangements of music by Bon Iver."

To follow Chant Claire's concert schedule, go to the choir's website at www.chantclaire.org.