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D-day will rise again in songs

Can you imagine yourself standing on the bluff overlooking France's Omaha Beach on the 50th anniversary of the World War II Normandy invasion singing Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Star-Spangled Banner and the French national anthem?

You can get goose bumps just thinking about it.

If you're a pretty decent singer and have $2,000 to spare, you could be part of that memorable scene.

Rob Knabel, who created the International Masterworks Chorus of Tampa Bay in 1992 to join with other American singers for two presentations of Handel's Messiah in Russia, will take the chorus to France and England in June for the invasion anniversary observance.

A 30-voice group of men and women, including nine students at Pinellas Park High School, where Rob is the choral director, already is rehearsing, but he also would like a few more men who sing, bass or tenor. Call his home at 785-6256.

The chorus includes some members of Heritage United Methodist Church, where Rob had been the director of music, and East Lake Road Baptist Church, where he is the director now.

The Masterworks Chorus, which is the only Florida choir invited to Normandy for the three-month observance, will leave here June 14 and return June 23. It will give six concerts in France and England.

At Omaha Beach, standing near a cemetery with thousands of white crosses signifying American dead, the choir will sing, besides the selections already mentioned, God Bless the U.S.A.,I Pledge Allegiance and From Sea to Shining Sea.

Its other concerts also will feature songs from the 1940s like All the Things You Are and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, plus the song known around the world as the Coca-Cola commercial, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing. And the chorus will perform Faure's Requiem at a Sacre Coeur Cathedral Mass in Paris.

The chorus' previous appearances in Russia and at Carnegie Hall have been as part of larger choirs. This will be its first solo appearance.

The Pinellas Park High students are working to raise their $2,000 each but could use some help. Call Rob about making contributions to the school choral department.

Giving would be sporting

Here's a reminder to scoop up that unused athletic equipment around your house and donate it to the Long Center in Clearwater for its Sportacular on March 19-20. And then be sure to come by the center on one of those days to tour the facility, meet sports celebrities, participate in kids' games and a petting zoo, eat, enjoy the entertainment and, of course, buy some of the donated items.

The center hopes to raise money for its scholarships, for an endowment fund to pay for Sunshine Playground maintenance and for day-to-day operations.

You can donate footballs, baseballs and bats, basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, golf clubs, skate boards, in-line skates, bicycles and tricycles, fishing equipment, boats and canoes, snow skis and water skis, barbells and exercise machines.

You may take your donations to Performance Toyota or one of four Scott's Custom Cleaners locations. Call 799-2149 with questions.

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