About Us

Who We Are

Hark Up seeks to share the message and love of our Lord, Jesus Christ to the community through musical programming and fellowship.

Hark Up is a non-profit 501©3 music and arts ministry that operates on a volunteer basis made possible by Sponsors and Donors just like you! Thanks to your generous donations we are able to continue to share the power of music throughout West Michigan. Please consider donating today. Remember that all gifts are Tax Deductible.

Chris Hansen

Executive Director / Founder

“Our passion has been about bringing God honoring artistic events to West Michigan and beyond. We strive to provide opportunities for people of all ages, background and ethnicity to participate using their God given talents to Glorify God. Through this avenue, we aim to mentor those involved, helping to develop their faith and talents toward a biblical centered life in Christ Jesus.”

Hark Up History

The idea for Hark Up Ministries began on the stage at the final Rock Vespers performance in 1998. Chris R. Hansen, a talented arranger and trumpeter for the show, realized there was an opportunity to continue the idea that popular Christmas songs could provide a great platform to share the story of Jesus’ birth. There was already an audience that had made a tradition of coming to hear this music and they needed a show to attend next year. Together, with like minded musicians, Chris created large ensemble versions of these popular songs and drew the talent needed to take the show to the next level.

The first Hark Up Christmas Show was staged in 1999 at Fair Haven Ministries with about 150 participants. Always searching for a new and interesting way to share the story of Jesus, the show over the years has grown into a multifaceted artistic juggernaut that has included talented Singers, Drama, Visual Art, Light Shows, Children’s Choirs, Dance Troupes, Magicians, and High School Drum Lines along with a large Big Band and 100 Voice multi-generational Choir. Now with over 300 participants, Hark Up is a large community that comes together each December focused on sharing the Love of Christ through the artistic gifts we have to share. About 5000 people attended Hark Up 2018 through 5 performances at the DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

Because of the show’s success, Hark Up has grown into a year-round ministry providing uplifting performances all over West Michigan. Musical groups large and small provide positive message based entertainment at over 70 events a year.

The Hark Up Horns Big Band performs at Festivals, Swing Dances, Weddings, Community and Corporate Events, as well as outreach to schools and student groups throughout the area.

Hark Up Worship provides music for Church Services, Special Needs groups as well as Christian Conferences and concerts such as Worship on the Waterfront. We also provide musical support for top touring Christian performers and a Patriotic series of concerts celebrating Veterans in West Michigan.

Production Team

Board of Directors

Chris Hansen

Chris R. Hansen is a native of Greenville, Michigan. Chris graduated from Western Michigan University with degrees in Music Education, Music Theory, and Theatrical Arts. Chris completed his master’s degree in Church Music/Worship Leadership at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. After completing his degree, he taught in the areas of drama, worship and music, and served churches in the Portland area. Chris returned to Michigan 19 years ago to continue serving in music ministry. Chris now works as a freelance music arranger for Hansencharts LLC, composer, and is the Music Director for the Day Break Service at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland. In 2007 Chris began Hark Up Ministries with a group of dedicated colleagues to help promote God honoring arts in West Michigan and beyond. Chris is very blessed to have an understanding wife Nancy, and two talented sons, Nathan and Geoffrey. Chris uses his middle initial “R” so he is not confused with that guy from “Dateline”.

Scott Pedersen

Scott Pedersen was born to drum, having played percussion since he was five years old. A native of Chicago, Scott played for six years in a band called Lonesome Soul. In addition to playing with many of the Hark Up Music/Productions ensembles, Scott has been fortunate enough to perform with multiple Grammy & Dove award winning artists such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Don Moen, to name a few. He can also be seen playing with various local bands and theatre productions. Scott is a financial advisor and partner with Edward Jones Investments. He and his wife Sara live in Holland and are raising four more avid Bears fans!

Jeffrey Cook

Jeffrey is proud member of the Hark Up Horns and a Board member of Hark Up. He is President of Southwestern Oil Company and a partner in Hathaway Properties in Greenville. Jeffrey’s wife Caroline owns and operates Grand Rapids Running Tours. They have two children Anne and Peter. After raising their two children in Greenville, Jeff and Caroline moved to downtown Grand Rapids and love every minute of living there. He thanks his entire family for their support.

Charlie Royce

Charlie Royce studied saxophone at the Interlochen Arts Academy GRCC and Aquinas College. After 30 years He still remains an active performer in the area playing jazz and popular music with several groups. He is also a regular participant with Hark Up Music/ Productions ensembles. Not only has he played since the first show in 1999, but the name “Hark Up” is a product of his creativity, wit and humor. He and his wife Angie are the parents of two children. He is the President of Royce Rolls Ringer Company and director/manager of the musical groups Shimmie Pearl, the Moodswings and The Downtown Horns.

Dave Tanis

David Tanis graduated from GRCC with a major in music. He plays as often as he can in various groups and churches. Dave owns and operates Tanis Trucking in Jenison. He has played with Hark Up since the first show in 1999. Hark Up would also like to thank Dave for his help in storing Hark Up gear, transporting it and for providing space for the creation of the Christmas Show Sets.

Ed Dublis

Ed Dublis studied music at Brooklyn College. He played several Broadway shows including Fiddler On the Roof, Cats, and The Fantastics. He also conducted Shenandoah at Lincoln Center (Damrosch Park). Ed presently plays with the Jazz Quartet “Mood Swings”, the Hark Up Horns and on occasion, if bribed and anonymity is guaranteed, will play the accordion. Ed is a financial advisor and owns Diversified Financial Concepts.

FEATURED MUSICIANS

Lead Trumpet

Jeff Ayres

Jeff Ayres has been the lead trumpet player for Hark Up since the first year! Jeff is the Band Director at Greenville Middle School and Trumpet Teacher/Jazz Ensemble Director at Alma College. He enjoys boating, golfing, and vacations with his lively wife, Susan, (an elementary school principal) and daughters, Danielle (a Chiropractor in Portland OR), and Megan (a Junior at MSU headed for Kenya for study abroad this January).
Trumpet

Mike Truszkowski

Mike Truszkowski is the high school band director at Spring Lake Public Schools. He has a masters degree in music education from CMU and has been teaching music for 20 years. He performs regularly with Hark Up, local big bands and The Hip Pocket. He and his wife Michelle are the parents of four wonderful children.
Hammond Organ

Chris Moberley

While acknowledging that with the advent of keyboards and synthesizers, Hammond Organ players are becoming a “dying breed,” his passion for the instrument and its uniqueness is ongoing. Chris has a 30-year history that includes performing with Junior Walker and the All Stars, the Bryce Roberson Trio and Donnie Rodgers. He plays with many groups across the state as well as Hark Up Music/Productions ensembles.
Lead Saxophone

Gary McCourry

Gary McCourry is a member of the praise band at Christ Lutheran Church in Wyoming. He returned to Michigan after retiring in October of 2009 from a 23-year career as saxophonist in the West Point Band, one of the Army’s premier musical organizations. He served for 9 years as alto and soprano saxophonist in the West Point Concert Band and for 14 years as baritone saxophonist in the West Point Jazz Knights, retiring as enlisted group leader of the Jazz Knights. Gary holds a Bachelor of Music degree with majors in Applied Saxophone, Music Education, and Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University, where he studied saxophone with Trent Kynaston. He also holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University with majors in Jazz and Woodwinds. While at IU he studied saxophone with the renowned Dr. Eugene Rousseau. Now residing in Dorr, Michigan, Gary maintains a busy schedule teaching private woodwind lessons, performing for Circle Theatre and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and playing with several area groups.
Solo Saxophone

James Hayward

While serving in the US Navy, Jim was assigned to numerous bands and performed in all saxophone positions, doubling on flutes and clarinets as required. At the conclusion of his 28 year military tenure, he was the lead alto player for the US Navy Band Commodores (the Navy’s official jazz big band) in Washington, DC. Recognized as one of the finest jazz saxophonists around, Jim has appeared nationally and internationally in concert with the Temptations, Rosemarie Clooney, Natalie Cole, and Jazz Cruise appearances with Frank Capp’s Juggernaught Band. He is featured on numerous recordings, including his own album, “Coronado Sands”. While residing in South Florida, Jim performed regularly with a number of South Florida’s finest musical organizations, including Peter Graves Orchestras, the Bob Hoose Big Band, and the Palm Beach Pops. Since moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jim has had the good fortune to perform with the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, and the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra.
Baritone Saxophone

Dana Lasswell

Dana Laswell is a Muskegon High School and Western Michigan University graduate, earning a bachelors degree in Music Education. He’s played soprano, alto, tenor and baritone Saxes for Hark Up. In 1984 he auditioned and was accepted in the United States Navy Band where he traveled and lived worldwide performing in every continent except Iceland. After retirement in 2004, he auditioned and was accepted as a show band woodwinds musician for Carnival Cruise Lines where he traveled the Pacific and the Caribbean for the next six years. He played his last cruise in Apr 2010. An active performer in the area, Dana subs with numerous bands playing any musical style from big band jazz to classical.

Trombone

Joe Mason

Joe Mason studied trombone at the University of Michigan. He is an active performer with Hark Up and a member of local R&B horn band The Blue Water Kings. He has recorded with Integrity Music artists Israel Houghton, Marvin Sapp and Ken Reynolds.
Trombone

Aaron Hettinga

Aaron Hettinga brings a diverse background of musical experience to Western Michigan. He performs regularly as a trombonist with the Horns of Power and as Bass Singer/ Keyboardist/Bassist with Classic Fun, a West Michigan-based nostalgia music variety act. He has also performed as featured soloist with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Symphony Orchestra, Calvary Church’s Festival of Lights, and Hark Up. Aaron has arranged music for concert band (published by Daehn Publications), orchestra, big band, vocal groups, and other various small and large instrumental/vocal ensembles in both religious and secular settings. He also operates Music Printers, www.musicprinters.com, a musical notation and transcription service with an international client base.
Bass Guitar

Andy Hathaway

Andy is thankful to be playing bass guitar for Hark Up! He is a software engineer by trade, but has been playing bass in church and other venues for the last 20 years, including being fortunate enough to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. After meeting his wonderful wife, Molly, in Texas, they decided to move their family back up north two years ago, just in time for some of the craziest winters in recent memory. Andy enjoys playing softball and tennis, as well as spending as much time as possible with his wife and two young children. Andy would like to thank Molly for being so loving, supportive and encouraging, and his parents for creating a legacy of music and faith in his family growing up that he will surely pass down to his kids.
Electric Guitar

Don Hooker

Don Hooker is a self-described “guitar nut” who has played many styles of music with various musical groups, in addition to performing in solo and duo settings. He has studied classical guitar with Manuel Barrueco, played with many rock, pop, blues, and jazz bands and performed with numerous shows. In addition to his other musical activities, Don can be seen performing regularly with the local rhythm and blues band Harry Lucas and the Lowdown.

Featured VocalistS

Geoffrey Hansen

Geoffrey Hansen is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in Vocal Music Education. While studying at WMU, Geoff was a member of the Gold Company program where he had the opportunity to work with musicians like Steve Zegree, Duane Davis and Peter Eldridge. Geoff started participating in Hark Up in the late 90’s and has been involved as much as possible ever since. He would like to thank his family for all of their support and the many people who have helped him in his musical and spiritual journey. He is in his third year of teaching in the Covert School System.

Breighanna Minnema

Breighanna is very blessed to be taking on a leadership role with Hark Up this year. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, she graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Breighanna is signed with The Mine Agency NYC and has performed in various shows on the East Coast, her favorite being the Regional Tour of Nice Work If You Can Get It as Eileen Evergreen featured alongside Sally Struthers and Valerie Harper. Breighanna spent over two years singing, dancing, and traveling around the world as a Lead Vocalist for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. However, she is no stranger to the West Michigan stage. She was featured recently as Sophie in Mamma Mia and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Pickles in Great American Trailer Park Musical at Circle Theatre as well as multiple performances during high school at GRCHS.

Joy Nienhuis

Joy Nienhuis lives in Rockford with her husband Aaron and four children, Riley, Carlie Molly and Avery. She is employed as the office manager at Rising Starz Gymnastics. She participates in the music ministry at Bridgeway Community Church and also sings with BPOP (Big Band of Praise). Joy is thankful to God for the opportunities to return the gift of music He has given her. She is also thankful for the love and support of her family and friends.

Colin Tobin

Colin has been involved in various stage productions at Circle Theatre, Actors Theatre, and Civic Theatre. He Is currently involved Richmond Reformed Church, America’s Music Company, Sweet J Band, Paradise Outlaw, and Soul Syndicate.

Angie Royce

Angie Royce discovered singing in her early teens. She has been part of Hark Up since it’s early beginnings in 2000. Besides being a regular with the Big Band swinging on the occasional Tuesday night for GROSS, she also sings with Shimmie Pearl, a band that covers a great mix of music from the 70’s and 80’s and Mood Swings, a jazz combo. She is really excited to see how God continues to use music to touch our hearts and speak to us in ways that don’t always need words.

Shannon Dykstra is no stranger to Hark Up. She attended the very first Hark Up Christmas program in 1999 never knowing that 4 short years later she would be on the same stage with some of the most talented and amazing musicians in the area. Now, 15 years later, she considers herself fortunate to continue the Hark Up tradition and is very thankful for the support of her family year after year. Shannon has also been a part of “Cabaret” which takes place in Allegan every spring and benefits the Wings of Hope Hospice. Shannon resides in Dorr with her husband Jody and her three children Sydney, Jesse, and Ryley.

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