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Choirs sing in memory of longtime music teacher

Rod Rasmus will be honored at a Community Christmas Concert, which benefits Habitat for Humanity

More than 50 voices will combine to sing Sunday afternoon in memory of longtime Forest Grove music teacher Rod Rasmus and to raise money for West Tuality Habitat for Humanity.

The annual Community Christmas Concert is scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Forest Grove United Methodist Church, 1726 Cedar St.

Laura Frye, director of the Sanctuary Choir at the Forest Grove United Church of Christ, will direct three combined numbers, including 'Beautiful Saviour,' arranged by F. Melius Christiansen, 'And the Glory of the Lord' from Handel's Messiah and 'Carol of the Bells' by Leonovych, arranged by Wilhousky.

The United Methodist and UCC choirs, as well as the UMC's bell choir and children's choir, will participate in the event.

Dace Horn, a Pacific University graduate, and her husband, Martin, will sing solos during the concert. Dace Horn will serve as accompanist.

Former students of Rasmus, who was choir director at Forest Grove High School from 1967 to 1991, are invited to join in performing the combined pieces, Frye said.

Rasmus died last February after a long illness, said his friend Ray Giansante of Forest Grove, a longtime English, speech and drama teacher at FGHS.

Giansante, who celebrated his 70th birthday with Rasmus in 2005, will dedicate the concert to his former colleague.

'When Rod came to Forest Grove High in 1967 there were eight or ten people in choir and the concerts were held in a classroom,' Giansante recalled. 'It wasn't very long before he had a substantial choir going.'

Rasmus also organized a community choir consisting of 'the best voices in town,' Giansante said. 'He built a wonderful choir that sang difficult and beautiful music,' he added.

Rasmus' widow, Elaine, still lives in Forest Grove.

'She always says that Rod loved music, but his joy was teaching kids to love music,' Giansante said.

At the end of the concert, audience members will be invited to sing Christmas carols and gather to enjoy cookies, hot chocolate and apple cider.

A free will offering will be taken at the concert, with proceeds going to WTHFH, which provides affordable housing for low-income people in the area, said Linda Kroll, fund-raising chair.

For details about the event, contact Frye at 503-357-7904 or Kroll at 503-359-8866.