30 years of RAAC Community Cantata


The Redfield Area Arts Council will present its annual Community Cantata at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at Redfield School Auditorium.

The Redfield Community Cantata began 30 years ago, with about 30 singers, myself as the director, and Betty Johnson as the accompanist. This community event was held at various churches in Redfield. In 2001, Carol Lund became the accompanist and there were a couple of new directors throughout the years.

In 2015, Dale Fiedler stepped in and became the permanent director, with Carol Lund as the permanent accompanist. Through the years we have had a number of singers, as many as 50 singers, with this year being the most, 65 singers! With the increase of singers, we decided to perform at the Redfield School Auditorium this year. We have singers from Redfield, Tulare, Doland, and Aberdeen, which makes it a Redfield area community event! In interviewing some of the members, here’s their thoughts on this annual community event.

First, Onilee Siebrecht, who has been a soprano with the group since 1994. “What a great learning experience it has been for me! I certainly enjoy singing with so many gifted singers from our area. I’m so grateful to have been able to sing under the direction of Joy Schweitzer and Dale Fiedler. The dedication of the two pianists, Betty Johnson and Carol Lund have been much appreciated!”

Ray Johnson is a bass with the group. “Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and I look forward to the Community Cantata each and every year,” Johnson said. “It is much fun to see how it progresses each week. Dale, Joy, and Carol bring out the best of each and every one of us!!”

Tracy Schutte, an alto with the group, says someone in her family has been involved with the Cantata since the beginning. “About 5 years ago, I finally got brave enough to join,” Schutte said. “I think it is absolutely beautiful that our community can come together from every profession and faith the create music.”

Lon Gellhaus, a bass with the group, said, “For many years I truly enjoyed singing in the Living Christmas Tree in Aberdeen. It helped get me into the Spirit of Christmas. It’s such a glorious sound singing in a large group chorus with orchestral accompaniment. Then came COVID coupled with the non-revival of the Living Christmas Tree. Dale Fiedler, our wonderful director of the Shrine Chanters, of which I’m a member, suggested I sing in Redfield’s Christmas Cantata. Last year, I came and enjoyed participating once again in a large singing group. There is nothing like the sound of Redfield’s beautiful chorus. It gives you goose bumps. Just ask Dale!”

Dale Fiedler, director of the Cantata, said, “It’s an absolute privilege to direct such a talented group of wonderful musicians. Personally, it begins a wonderful celebration of the holiday season and Christ’s Birth.”