Blue Ridge Elementary secretary wins conducting role in singalong

Friday, December 11, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — After Blue Ridge Elementary School secretary Cheryl Brewer performed in the choir in a singalong performance of Handel's "Messiah" last year, the school's principal, Tim Majerus, asked Brewer if she would want to conduct a song.

"In a heartbeat," she told him.

If you go

What: Christmas Celebration and Messiah Sing Along

Where: Missouri United Methodist Church sanctuary at 204 S. Ninth St.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $10 in advance, $15 at the door

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Majerus found out how he could make it happen.

For the past four years, participating roles in the singalong have been auctioned on eBay. The school staff raised money for Brewer, a 19-year member of Columbia Chorale, a nonprofit music group, to conduct the "Hallelujah" chorus in this year's Christmas Celebration and Messiah Sing Along.

The bidding this year includes conducting the "Hallelujah" chorus. Majerus realized bidding could be steep, so he discreetly asked the school's staff for donations.

Through pledges and a bake sale, the staff raised about $550 — enough to win the auction and then some. With the extra money, the staff bought Brewer a conducting baton, a CD with the "Hallelujah" chorus on it and a gift certificate to a restaurant. The staff also made a donation to Columbia Chorale in Brewer's name.

"She is really just a great asset to the school and a great person," Majerus said. "It was real easy to generate the pledges because we all appreciate what she does."

Linda Koenig, a fourth-grade teacher, organized the bake sale and said the community at the school is very strong.

"I think our greatest asset isn't just our generosity, but the sense of family," Koenig said. "Cheryl is the heart of the building, and giving too much is not enough for her."

Brewer said the event means a lot to her because of the support of her co-workers.

"I'm happy, not because of me, but because of these guys," Brewer said. "They did it."

Brewer was a music major at Southwest Missouri State University, now Missouri State University, until she dropped out in 1972.

But music has still had a large influence in her life. Along with singing in the Columbia Chorale, she has directed children's choirs, and she plays hand bells and the French horn at First Baptist Church of Columbia. This will be Brewer's first time conducting, and she looks forward to the opportunity.

"There's nothing more uplifting than the 'Hallelujah' chorus," Brewer said.

Ten of Brewer's co-workers plan to attend the event Saturday night at the Missouri United Methodist Church, located at 204 S. Ninth St.

Alex Innecco, one of the conductors of the concert, said the event is a great way to unite the community and bring everyone together.

"Everything I do, I like to make classical music fun and accessible," Innecco said.

The other auction winners will be singing solos and include:

  • Kevin Carpenter
  • David Orr
  • Samantha Smith
  • Joan Beard

More than $1,000 was raised in the auctions and will be donated to the Columbia Chorale.

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