Talented troupe keeps the music alive in King City

Surrounding King City Music Club founder Muriel Dresser in the center are co-directors Lynn Turner (left) and Ray Beyer.
Surrounding King City Music Club founder Muriel Dresser in the center are co-directors Lynn Turner (left) and Ray Beyer. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

Muriel Dresser’s career revolved around music and performing, and when she moved into the King City Civic Association 10 years ago, she was amazed to learn that “there were 50 clubs but none involving music.”

Members of the King City Music Club include (front row, left to right) Joyce Strassberg, Elsa Malcom, Phyllis Vertrees, Rich Haller, Rosalie Czapszys, Joan Stepp and Joan Beery; and (second row, left to right) Zvi Strassberg, Ray Beyer, Paula Wenzl, Lynn Turner, Jerry Larsen, Marcia Leanna and Tracy Stepp. Other members absent from the photo are Alma Hanna, Barbara Parks, Gerry Pedersen and Sally Shackleford.
Members of the King City Music Club include (front row, left to right) Joyce Strassberg, Elsa Malcom, Phyllis Vertrees, Rich Haller, Rosalie Czapszys, Joan Stepp and Joan Beery; and (second row, left to right) Zvi Strassberg, Ray Beyer, Paula Wenzl, Lynn Turner, Jerry Larsen, Marcia Leanna and Tracy Stepp. Other members absent from the photo are Alma Hanna, Barbara Parks, Gerry Pedersen and Sally Shackleford. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

She set about to change that and started the King City Music Club, which, despite a temporary COVID-19-induced hiatus, is once again thriving.

Dresser started performing on stage as a child, was a flamenco dancer and toured with a musical theater show. “I started playing the piano at 7 or 8, although I never studied voice or piano,” said Dresser, whose fellow musicians consider her a piano virtuoso. She is the club president and not only plays for the Music Club but also for the King City Senior Village chorus and at events such as the city’s annual Veterans Day event.

The Music Club provides opportunities to sing in the ensemble and perform solos for the nearly two dozen residents who sang for fun and professionally in their earlier lives and still love to share their talents.

Lynn Turner, the group’s co-director and treasurer, moved to King City in 2006 and joined the Music Club seven or eight years ago. “I have been singing a long time, since grade school, and I was in my high school choir in Portland,” she said. “I sang with the Albany Choristers later on, and for 14 years I was in the Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland. I also directed the I-5 Connection chorus in Wilsonville.”

Ray Beyer, the other co-director, only joined the group recently but brought a wealth of talent and experience with him. He was involved in his church’s music program and played the organ for 12 years; as soon as he retired from that gig, he became the artistic director of Northwest Senior Theatre for 17 years, which pre-pandemic put on two full-scale musical productions every year.

He noted of his involvement with the Music Club, “It’s a lot less work than theater work.”

Muriel Dresser has performed on stage since she was a child, and her résumé includes stints as a flamenco dancer and touring with a musical theater show. Courtesy/Muriel Dresser

The group performs on the first Thursday of each month at 2 p.m. in the KCCA Clubhouse Ballroom; the public is welcome, and there is no charge. The singers rehearse on the other Thursdays of the month at 2 p.m.

Dresser, Turner and Beyer choose the theme for the songs that will be performed each month, but the soloists choose their own songs.

Among the performers in the group is Jerry Larsen, who until recently was the co-director; when he had to step down, Beyer replaced him. Larsen moved to King City five years ago and has quite a musical résumé. In high school he was the principal bassoonist in the Portland Junior Symphony and was in the Naval Academy Glee Club. He studied classical piano for 10 years and has sung with several choruses, including the Sherwood Chorale, the Conchords and Tigard Pops Chorus.

Larsen noted that “within five minutes of moving into King City, I joined the group.”

Another performer is Joan Beery, who recently started singing with the group. She too has a musical background, majoring in music in college with a minor in drama. “I was a lounge singer with a three-piece band and did lots of musical theater,” she said. “Then I got married, and life got in the way. Later I was in a choral group with 80 members that gave two concerts a year.

“I’m a soprano soloist, so this isn’t exactly what I’m used to, but it fits, and these are wonderful people. Everyone here has been so lovely and has different talents. This was a chance to get out and still sing.”

Elsa Malcom was one of the original members of the Music Club after Dresser started it. “The music is wonderful, and so are the people,” she said. “I conduct the King City Senior Village music group and led their Christmas program.”

Phyllis Vertrees, who has been in the Music Club for three years, said, “I love the people, and I love the music. I love how Muriel is calm and peaceful. This is a family.”

The Music Club welcomes new members and doesn’t require auditions, and its members invite everyone to come and enjoy their free performances. The next performance will be Thursday, April 7, at 2 p.m. in the Clubhouse featuring Broadway show tunes. The Clubhouse is located at 15245 S.W. 116th Ave.; for more information, call Dresser at 503-443-6777.