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Elks host Charles City’s first ‘Beer Choir’

  • The Elks Lodge in Charles City was the venue for the first-ever local “Beer Choir” event on Thursday evening. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Elks Lodge in Charles City was the venue for the first-ever local “Beer Choir” event on Thursday evening. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Elks Lodge in Charles City was the venue for the first-ever local “Beer Choir” event on Thursday evening. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Derek Sturtevant led the singing while Scott Blankenbaker accompanied as the Elks Lodge in Charles City was the venue for the first-ever local “Beer Choir” event on Thursday evening. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

It’s been said that music can soothe the savage beast.

And if it can’t, a couple of cold beers might do the trick.

The Elks Lodge in Charles City was the venue for the first-ever local “Beer Choir” event on Thursday evening. The public was welcome, and dozens showed up to participate — some with a professional singing background, others who could barely carry a tune.

“Beer Choir is when you get together and you drink, and you sing,” said Derek Sturtevant, Charles City High School vocal music director. “That’s pretty much it.”

“Being together, socializing, making music — that’s what it’s all about,” added Scott Blankenbaker, director of the Charles City Community Singers. “We’re not going to cut a CD from this experience tonight.”

Beer Choir is actually a national organization, with chapters in cities across America. Beer Choir events — led by chapter leaders who are local choir directors — take place in public spaces such as pubs and breweries, and the public is welcome. The organization states its mission is to “make our world a little better by singing and drinking together.”

The organization was created in 2014 by choral composer and conductor Michael Engelhardt.

“We’re borrowing the idea and just kind of trying it out here to see how it goes,” said Sturtevant, who added that there’s even music available for local chapters to download.

“Somebody made a Beer Choir Hymnal — it wasn’t me,” Sturtevant said. “It’s full of all kinds of interesting things from German drinking songs to more modern things.”

Sturtevant and Blankenbaker first participated in a Beer Choir event when they went to an Iowa Choral Directors Association symposium. They enjoyed it so much they decided to bring it back to Charles City.

“Derek and I have both experienced Beer Choir in other settings before, and it was just a ton of fun,” Blankenbaker said. “It’s a low-pressure environment. You just sing fun songs. We’re trying to emphasize the benefits of community singing.”

Sturtevant said the Elks have been “wonderful” for helping set Beer Choir up. The local club even brought in special beers by request for the occasion.

“One of the aspects of Beer Choir, besides singing, is celebrating beer,” Blankenbaker said.

“Any time you can get people in the community together to sing, or create music, or celebrate art and have fun, I think it’s worth our time,” Sturtevant said.

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