Men’s Schola singers in Keokuk celebrate 30 years

Posing at Church of All Saints in Keokuk are, in front row, Chuck Betts, organist Bonnie Pflug and director Jerry Metternich. In row two are Chris Riegel, Jack Smith, Bob Kemp, Wes Brown and John Rothgeb. In back are Jerry Schleier, Bob Korte, Bob Steinman, Don Steingraber and Vern Benjamin. Not pictured is Phil Storm.

KEOKUK — Since 1983, the Men’s Schola has provided music ministry for Masses at Church of All Saints every other week. The group takes its name from the Latin word “schola,” originally meaning a musical school attached to a monastery or church.
Created by Father Joe Roost, the group consists of local male singers. Over the years, the Schola has performed at venues such as St. John’s Episcopal Church in Keokuk and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.  Another milestone for the group was the recording and sale of the album “Christmas in Keokuk.”
Jerry Metternich, director since 1987, lists some of the group’s repertoire: “Numbers include Gregorian chants, old Latin hymns from St. Basil’s and compositions by Michael Joncas and David Haas.”
Chorus member John Rothgeb says: “We regularly practice for a half-hour before each Mass and will hold special rehearsals for longer performances when needed. We have a list of songs which we frequently sing because they accompany important religious dates every year. Jerry will challenge us with new numbers when he thinks we are ready. Those songs can then become part of the repertoire.”
Several current singers were part of the original chorus. Until taking over as director in 1987, Metternich sang with Jack Smith, Jerry Schleier, Bob Kemp, Don Steingraber and Wes Brown, who are also current members.  Rounding out the original group were Tom Edwards, Ken Sibbing, Jack Farris, Jim Schneider, Don Sohl, Pete Wulfing, Homer Kantu, Ed Conn, Bob Schieffer and Leroy Watson.
Accompanists have also been important to the group’s success.  Fr. Roost, now pastor of parishes in Marengo, North English and Williamsburg, was both the original director and accompanist.  Sister Celeste Lehman, Norann Behnken and Dayton Smith have also served. The current accompanist is Bonnie Pflug.
The Men’s Schola is celebrating its 30th anniversary year with festivities that included participating in a holiday concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Dec. 8.

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