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Innecco, vivid presence in Columbia's music scene, returning to Brazil

Thursday, July 7, 2011 | 7:34 p.m. CDT; updated 8:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 7, 2011
Alex Inneco leads the choir and signals a sound technician during a dress rehearsal at the Missouri United Methodist Church on December 2, 2007. On October 31, he will be directing the 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra's "Un-Halloween Concert," which will feature Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, Mendelsshon’s Symphony No. 5 and Brahms Hungarian Dances No. 5 and 6.

COLUMBIA — Alex Innecco is going home. The longtime music director of Missouri United Methodist Church and a vivid presence in Columbia's music scene is returning to his native Brazil to be near family and friends and to start a youth orchestra.

Innecco's resignation became public in an e-mail he sent Thursday through the Columbia Chorale, for which he has been artistic director. In an interview, Innecco, 43, said that while his time in Columbia has been wonderful, he thinks now is a good time to transition into a new chapter in his life. He is moving to Brasilia, the capital.

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"I will be wanting to start anew, so I see this as kind of my last opportunity to shift life in a different direction and be able to make a difference in a different environment," he said.

And when Innecco talks about making a difference, he isn't speaking arbitrarily — he has a specific goal.

"My dream is to work with an orchestra of financially underprivileged children," he said.

He said Venezuela, which neighbors Brazil, has outstanding music programs for underprivileged children, whereas Brazil has none that parallels Venezuela's.

And, Innecco said, Brazil has recently found one of the largest oil reservoirs known in the world today, and that has brought with it financial opportunities for a large portion of the country's population. "Everybody is really optimistic about the future, so I want to be part of that," he said.

He said he knows his goal is lofty, but he's in it for the long haul. "It's going to be something from scratch," Innecco said. "If it works the way I'm envisioning, it'll be a life-long process."

As music director at Missouri United Methodist for a decade, Innecco developed a concert series that showcased local musicians in the 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra and brought in internationally known performers such as Chanticleer. Sometimes he conducted, and sometimes he sang (he's a tenor), but he always served as a master of ceremonies at these performances, talking personally to the audience and drawing them into the performance.

"I’ve always said that music for me is the vehicle of communication with people," he said. "More important than music-making is actually communicating."

Along with the cakes that "church ladies" have baked for him over the years, Innecco said he will miss the wonderful environment he worked in at the church and Columbia's small-town feeling.

Innecco, who studied at MU in the early 1990s, came from Brazil to Columbia a second time to be a part of MU's School of Music. "I thought I was going to do my master's and then go back home, but I got this job, and I've loved it ever since, and 10 years went by" — he sharply snapped his fingers — "just like that."

A farewell concert will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

Innecco, whose resignation takes effect at the end of the month, knows his departure will be bittersweet.

"I just look forward to the next phase of my life," he said. "To say hello to some new people, you have to say goodbye to other people."


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