Where it all began….
On Tuesday evening, October 21st 1969, ten men and an accompanist met in the basement of the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Church, rural Louisburg, Minnesota. These original young men and their accompanist were Jim Boraas, Mike Crosby, Sherwood Dove, Glen Nelson, Ron Schoephester, Orrin Tofte, Paul Trelstad, Luther Trelstad, Roger Voorhees, David Wasberg and Nancy Moen. This was the beginning of a men’s chorus that was to continue for decades. They named themselves “The Chord-Ayres” referring to men’s voices sung in harmony. Little did they realize that their small group of ten would soon become a much larger group of men; some farmers, businessmen, teachers, retirees and others who would leave their jobs and everyday concerns and get together just for the love of singing.
During the next forty years, the group would be led by four directors: Paul Trelstad, Scott Fuhrman, Tony Faith and Ted Albers, the present director. The four accompanists have been Jan Voorhees, Mary Schirm, Nancy Moen, Janet Kleven, and the present accompanist Linda Anderson. The singers and their accompanists have represented the communities of Appleton, Boyd, Correll, Granite Falls, Dawson, Madison, Milan, Montevideo, Ortonville and Wood Lake.
Associations & Sponsorships
In the early years, the Chord-Ayres enjoyed the association with the Southwest Minnesota Male Chorus Association. Included were similar choruses from Benson, Canby, Litchfield, Marshall, New Ulm, Ortonville and Pipestone. They had no particular choice of musical type, but chose to sing a variety of styles to include barbershop, sacred, popular, classical and patriotic. They have maintained a membership of thirty-five dedicated singers who are constantly in demand to perform for a variety of situations to include weddings, funerals, church and civic concerts, patriotic events, nursing homes performances, variety shows, county fairs as well as Memorial Day and Veterans Day Commemorations.
In 1970 they came under the sponsorship of The Russell Johnson Post #72 of Appleton, Minnesota; a sponsorship that continued for the next 12 years. While under the sponsorship of the American Legion Post #72, the Chord-Ayres represented Minnesota American Legion in their National Choral competition. In 1975 they traveled to Seattle, Washington in a caravan of four motor homes. In 1976 they traveled by motor coach to Denver Colorado and in 1977 they performed in a like competition at the national convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In the early 1980’s The Chord-Ayres began a similar relationship with The American Legion Post #359 of Milan, Minnesota, a sponsorship that continues to this day.
Pearl Harbor Tradition
In late 1970, Paul Trelstad, their first director, was contacted by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association who were looking for a group to sing at the Fort Snelling Chapel for services commemorating the Pearl Harbor bombing of December 7, 1941. It was then that The Chord-Ayres began performing at the Fort Snelling Chapel on Pearl Harbor Recognition Sunday. This honor has continued every year since its inception with the exception of 1991 and 2001. The group takes great pride in participating in these events as many of the singers are members of the American Legion and/or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In 1991 and 2001, the Chord-Ayres were honored to receive invitations to perform at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Site at Ford Harbor on the Hawiian Islands.
There is no better way to define the impacting impression these experiences had on the singers and their spouses than to provide the moving quotes and descriptions :
- Ted Albers, then assistant director commented, before departure, “It’ll be awesome, just awesome.”
- “A trip of a lifetime,… being at Pearl Harbor for the anniversary commemoration was a real education, a unique trip never to be duplicated. It was a very emotional time..” Scott Fuhrman, director.
The Chord-Ayres gave their first performance during the flag-raising ceremony at Fort DeRussey in Honolulu. About 3,000 people were in attendance to see the 90 by 45 foot flag being hoisted by crane atop the flag pole. This flag was commissioned especially for this occasion and when it is not flying, it is being stored along with other commemorative flags in a special chest aboard the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.
One of the greatest highlights was to be at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Site and place a white floral lei in the water above the wreckage of the battleship Arizona, as they sang “Friendship,” and “Eternal Father.” As the lei was dropped in the water, it took the shape of a heart. As it drifted away, it retained its shape – never before observed. The sight was very impressive as the oil slicks rose from the sunken hull.
Minnesota Music Hall of Fame
In November of 2012 the Chord-Ayres were inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in New Ulm, MN.