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Charles City Beer Choir returns for Christmas

Charles City Beer Choir returns for Christmas
The public is invited to get the festivities of the season started by singing some lager-laced carols with their friends and neighbors on Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Charles City Elks Lodge from 2-5 p.m. (Press file photo James Grob.)
By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Charles City’s Beer Choir is back, and it’s ringing in the holidays — with a “Beery Christmas” and a “Hoppy New Beer.”

The public is invited to get the festivities of the season started by singing some lager-laced carols with their friends and neighbors on Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Charles City Elks Lodge from 2-5 p.m.

Beer Choir insists that the event is not a performance. It is a social singing and beer-drinking experience open to all, with no talent required.

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.

The local chapter was founded by Scott Blankenbaker, director of the Charles City Community Singers, and Derek Sturtevant, Charles City High School vocal music director.

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.”

Charles City’s rendition of Beer Choir had its start in August, when dozens of people showed up at the Elks Lodge in Charles City to participate. Some had a professional singing background, others could barely carry a tune.

On Sunday, the public will be asked to “get a beer, get a seat, and we will lead you through a couple hours of hilarious drinking songs and games from our official songbook, the Beer Choir Hymnal. The hymnal is available for download at www.beerchoir.com.

“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.

The event will also be a prospective membership event for the Elks Lodge.

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.

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