Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary League hosting third benefit concert

Saturday, March 9, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Michael Bancroft, the staple organ player of the annual "Music in the Air" benefit concert, chose to play a different tune this year — one that creates a sense of motion reflecting the lives of the homeless.

"It’s a little more contemporary, and the basic idea of it is that there’s this constant motion and repeated notes throughout," Bancroft said.

He opens the concert every year and does other volunteer performances at nursing homes and community events.

The concert, scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St., brings together professional musicians from the MU School of Music and around the community to raise money for the homeless.

Families are found through case workers at the Salvation Army Harbor House, a transitional housing facility. 

"We have professional case managers who know the inside and outside of everyone's situation," said Cynthia Chapman, regional director of development for Salvation Army. "It's not just a place to stay and have a meal. ... It's the only real way to tackle homelessness problems because you're helping them work towards their goals."

The money helps families with expenses so they can get their own place to live and reach their goals.  

"To me, that’s what it’s all about, the whole cycle of homelessness is now broken,” said Judith McKenney, program chairwoman of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary League.

Salvation Armies throughout the country have Women’s Auxiliary Leagues that decide how they will help the cause. Columbia's league started three years ago and contributes 100 percent of the profits from the benefit concert. 

"A group of us got together and discussed ways we thought we could bring about changes in homeless people’s lives," McKenney said.

The concert is expected to continue to grow after doubling its audience last year.

Paul Pepper and James Mouser of "Radio Friends with Paul Pepper" on KBIA/91.3 FM will be masters of ceremonies, and a new bassoonist will be featured.

The group is trying to focus on including emerging artists in the concert this year, with 15-year-old Benjamin Froeschle singing tenor and the Keithahn Family Quartet made up of strings players ages 3 to 16. 

"I think musicians and performers have this wonderful heart so when you ask them to do this — help other people — they’re delighted to do it," McKenney said. "None of them say 'what are you going to pay?' They’re just lovely people."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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