Osage County Community Choir planning free concert

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 9/7/22

Osage County Community Choir members are planning to hold a free concert on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Westphalia Vineyards Winery, depending on the weather. Organizers ask everyone to …

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Osage County Community Choir planning free concert

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Osage County Community Choir members are planning to hold a free concert on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Westphalia Vineyards Winery, depending on the weather. Organizers ask everyone to bring a lawn chair for seating. They hope to make this an annual, end-of-summer event.

The idea for a community choir has been a dream for some time. Members Donna Rehagen and Shelly Angerer have been a part of the choir at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Westphalia for years. The group wanted to sing several songs, but they were inappropriate for Mass.

“We have experienced such joy in our church choir and wanted to grow our ability to learn to perform together,” Choir Accompanist Angerer explained. “We felt the need to expand beyond the special occasions of Mass.”

Members have discussed how to move forward with the idea for a long time.

“It was Glenn Bock who became insistent and confident that we could make this into something,” said Rehagen. 

“Simple conversations and wishful thinking began after (choir) practices started to take hold, and we began to develop some solid ideas on how to create something new without being restricted by the material available to all the parishioners in church,” Angerer explained. “The discussion evolved from contemporary Christian Rock to including the other genres as well.”

Rehagen and Angerer wanted to include people from all over the county — not just members of the St. Joseph Church choir — so they put the word out on Facebook, put notices in church bulletins across the county, and tried to get the call out as best they could.

“We wanted to get people involved regardless of religious affiliation,” Rehagen said. 

The one requirement was to have a love of music.

On their Facebook invitation, the two women called for friendship, fellowship, and fun.

“Those three ideas are the foundation for everything we meet about,” Rehagen said. “We reflect on them after every single choir practice.”

In June of 2022, the group began meeting and practicing in the Norton Room at the Westphalia Vineyard Winery on Main Street in Westphalia. 

“We didn’t know what to expect at that first practice, but we were pleasantly surprised when close to 30 people showed up, and they continue to come back every week,” Rehagen said.

The group attracted people from all over the county with varying musical experience levels. 

“We have all musical ability levels, from beginner to degrees in music,” Rehagen said. “We welcome anyone who loves to sing, even if it is just in their shower.”

The group received a generous anonymous donation of a piano for the Community Choir to use. 

“We have some great people in our community who are always willing to donate in the name of making music,” Rehagen said.

The group has had t-shirts made by Mo Ink and Stitch so that the group would have something similar to wear at concerts. The shirts have a quote boldly printed on the back that reads: “The true beauty of music is that it connects people.”

For Rehagen, this quote is close to her heart. 

“We rarely have events that music is not a part of,” said Rehagen, referring to weddings, funerals, and parties, to name a few. “There is always music present, and just hearing a certain song elicits feelings in people, whether it be sadness, joy, or some memory that had been hidden away in your mind.”

Recently invited to a choir practice, UD writer Theresa Brandt didn’t know what to expect. Choir members came into the Norton Room with binders for their music, and they were all chatting about all the things you would expect to hear in mid-August in mid-Missouri. There were discussions about the weather and lack of rain, tips on canning, and where to get the best peaches in the area. Very quickly, however, this diverse group of people got down to business. With Rehagen’s direction and Angerer at the piano, the group began practicing songs they would perform at the upcoming concert.

The group ran through song after song. There were times Rehagen would stop them repeatedly to practice lines and melodies. There was a good, hearty round of laughter when things went wrong and then the hard work of going over it, again and again, to make it right.

“Just hang in there like the troopers you are and just sing,” Rehagen encouraged.

The Osage County Community Choir will have a variety of instruments accompanying the choir, including piano, drums, bass, and guitar.

“Our primary instrument is the piano, and our accompanist, Shelly Angerer, is one of the best I have ever worked with,” Rehagen bragged. 

Rehagen and Angerer picked the songs that the group would sing for the upcoming concert but are open to suggestions for future concerts.

The group sings a variety of songs, and it is hard to pick a favorite.

“I think the group’s favorite song is probably ‘You Say,’ but I don’t think there is a unanimous favorite,” Angerer said. “Each song has a special piece in it.”

“I think they love them all,” Rehagen added.

Angerer couldn’t pick just one song as her favorite that the group sings; instead, she loves three of them equally.

“The singers exude fellowship and feelings of intense prayer as they sing ‘You Say,’ ‘We Believe,’ and ‘Holy Water,’” Angerer said. “As the accompanist, it nearly brings me to tears.”

“I love them all but can tell the ones that the choir feels more confident in, such as ‘Country Roads,’” Rehagen said.

If you can’t make it to the September concert, the group will be performing at an upcoming Mass in Loose Creek for the German visitors from Loose Creek’s sister city, Lank, scheduled in October and during Christmas on Main Street in Westphalia.

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