The Choteau Trinity Lutheran Church began presenting advent recitals in 1983, and 2018 will be the 36th consecutive year that these recitals will be part of the Advent season.
The recitals are held at noon the first three Fridays in December. Each recital will be followed by a soup and bread lunch in the church’s fellowship hall. A free-will offering is taken and used to support the Ecumenical Vacation Bible School.
The first recital will a hosted by Sandie (George) Hodgskiss on Dec. 7. Hodgskiss was born in Choteau and attended school in Bynum until her parents sold the farm and moved the family to Great Falls. When the Georges moved back to Choteau, Hodgskiss started playing the trumpet and began piano lessons with Marge Hanusa.
Hanusa also taught her to play the organ and she still accompanies from the piano and organ at her church. Hodgskiss has been active in the music community of Choteau. She has played drums in the community band and hand drums with a drumming group, has accompanied cantatas, plays, Missoula Children’s Theatre and played for numerous weddings and funerals.
Hodgskiss has invited some friends, young and old, to participate in her “Sandie and Friends” recital, which features a women’s choir, singing two Christmas songs from cantatas, accompanied by Hodgskiss and a four-piece instrumental ensemble.
The Dec. 14 recital will feature members of the Asselstine family. The Asselstine family moved to Choteau in December 2006 when Jason accepted a call from the Lutheran church to serve as pastor. In 2014 he became the associate to the Bishop of the Montana Synod. His wife, Jen, a dedicated mom, works part-time as a building supervisor at a local ranch. She stays active in 4-H leadership, maintains a financial coaching business and serves on several local boards. Their son, Daniel is a senior at Choteau High School. He plays piano, guitar, oboe and bass guitar. Daniel plans to attend Valparaiso University in Indiana next fall. Their daughter Taylor is a freshman and is active in volleyball, 4-H, speech and drama and plays the piano and flute. She loves bow hunting and hopes to be a teacher someday.
Brad and Patti Asselstine moved to Choteau in 2010 to be in a small town and be active grandparents. Brad is retired but works seasonally for The Nature Conservancy at Pine Butte Guest Ranch. Patti is a veterinarian technician and is a house manager for Choteau Activities. She enjoys cooking, sewing and entertaining. Music has always been a part of the Asselstine family. Whether it is singing around a campfire with guitars or circling up in the living room with three generations, music has always been at the heart of time spent together.
Darla Armstrong Haller will present the third recital on Dec. 21. Haller was born and raised in Choteau. She describes being brought up by loving parents Fuzz and Yvonne Armstrong. Her parents were active members of Trinity Lutheran Church and she, her husband Dave and daughter Jillian were all baptized there. She was confirmed in the church, and she and Dave were married there. She says she was blessed to have Barbara and Jim Arensmeyer as her godparents.
Armstrong has always loved Trinity and says her love of music was nurtured there. She admired the talents of many of the congregants and mentions Carol Ekegren, Sharon Engh and former Pastor David Ophus and knew that her future was music.
After graduating from high school in 1979, she attended Concordia College and continued her Lutheran musical training under Paul J. Christiansen, Ph.D. Armstrong recently retired after teaching music for 32 years in Greybull, Wyoming.