Singing is a full body experience

On the first night the freshly-formed Kenai Peninsula Singers amassed 40 locals inside the Kenai Central High School choir room. Founder Simon Nissen, the school’s choir director, had no idea the group would be that large.

“What beast have I awoken?” Nissen said laughing. By the third rehearsal, Tuesday night, there was almost standing room only.

Dan Snyder came to watch his grandson, Hamilton Cox, sing with the group, but had to remain on his feet just inside the entrance.

“It looks like all the seats are getting taken up,” Snyder said scanning the room.

Nissen leads the choir through 20 minutes of warm ups to start off the night. This is when the singers learn one of his teaching philosophies.

“Singing is a full body experience,” Nissen said to the group. This was when he asked everyone to stand and be prepared to learn some quick dance moves they would incorporate into one of the warm up tunes.

That evening was Karolee Hansen’s first rehearsal. After grabbing a copy of “Hallelujah,” “Gesu Bambino,” “Ave Maria,” “Ding Dong Merrily On High!” and “Go where I send thee,” she asked which section was for the sopranos.

The room was divided into sections for bass, tenor, alto and soprano singers. Hansen took her seat in the group nearest the door with the other sopranos, the highest pitched performers of the group.

Nissen said he is not turning away anyone who wants to sing. He intended hight school freshmen be the youngest members of the choir, but elementary school students also sang on Tuesday.

“It is a great opportunity for people to come sing with their families,” Nissen said.

Nissen chose each song rehearsed Tuesday Nissen said. He wanted to include a variety of musical styles that would push the singers alittle out of their comfort zones. In only four weeks the choir will be performing what they have learned before an audience, he said.

The Kenai Peninsula Singers will be performing with the Redoubt Chamber Orchestra, organized throught the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, on Dec. 19, at the high school, Nissen said. They will be singing on their own and collaborating with the orchestra during the event.

Nissen created the group less than one month ago because he was unable to find a community choir where he himself could sing. He said it made him realize there was a need for that kind of musical outlet.

At the second rehearsal Nissen thought he had printed too many copies of rehearsal music. Then he ran out.

Nissen said he hopes the group will remain as strong following the holidays. He said he plans to keep teaching the choir as long as there is an interest.

“I think singing is an all the time thing,” Nissen said. “I don’t think it is something we should ever stop. It is something we can do for our whole lives.”


Reach Kelly Sullivan at

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