eBay auction offers chance to conduct "Hallelujah" chorus

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | 5:44 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — If you're hunting for the perfect gift for a music lover who doesn't mind being center stage, the Columbia Chorale has an idea.

After auctioning off solos in the chorale’s annual Messiah Sing-Along for the past two years, Alex Innecco, creative director for the ensemble, decided to take it one step further and turn over the baton, albeit briefly, to the highest bidder. The winner gets to conduct the “Hallelujah” chorus at a performance Dec. 6 at the Missouri United Methodist Church.

Bidders have until Nov. 28. Innecco said there has already been a lot of movement on the eBay auction block. After less than a day of bidding, the auction has 13 bids; at midday Wednesday, the price to beat was $66.

Innecco and the Columbia Chorale joined the sing-along special five years ago. Prior to their involvement, the Columbia Civic Orchestra led the show for 11 years. Innecco was inspired by the audience’s participation to create the auction.

“People show up with scores under their arms and sing their lungs off,” Innecco said. “I wanted also to offer solos for people (who wanted) to sing but didn’t know how to do it.”

All of the solos for this year's performance have been sold. The bass part went for $256, the tenor for $102, the soprano for $51 and the alto — to a woman in Kentucky — for $61.

Peter Stiepleman, principal at West Boulevard Elementary School, decided to purchase the tenor solo after watching the Columbia Chorale sing Mendelssohn's "Elijah" and being moved by the beauty of the performance.

"It was exciting," Stiepleman said of the auctioning process. "I never in my wildest dreams though I would sing such a beautiful piece with a full orchestra."

As for his singing ability, Steipleman said that although he is "very amateur," he does not think the audience will pelt him with vegetables. 

The eBay auction proceeds will help the Columbia Chorale stage future performances. "All the money goes to fund concerts,” Innecco said. “The ticket price doesn’t cover all of it.”

To bid, go to and search for "conduct the Hallelujah chorus."

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