Soprano Christine Brewer to sing at concerts set at SIU, Southeast

A collaboration between three programs and multiple independent soloists is set to unveil a historic musical performance this April. 

The combined orchestras and choruses of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and John A. Logan College in Carterville plan to present Giuseppi Verdi’s famed “Messa di Requiem.”

Featuring the work for the first time in Southern Illinois, the combined groups plan to host a concert both April 23 and April 25 on the campuses of Southeast Missouri State and SIU, respectively.

To add to the magnitude of the event, several internationally recognized soloists are set to accompany the musical groups. 

Among the vocal soloists is the famed soprano, Christine Brewer, who has performed at virtually every major opera house in the world and appeared on the cover of “Opera News.”

As a Grammy Award-winning American soprano, Brewer has built an international reputation for her unique timbre and vibrant personality. 

She is a 1973 graduate of Shawnee High School in Wolf Lake.

Named by BBC Music Magazine as one of the top 20 sopranos of all time, she regularly appears in a variety of operas, concerts and recitals. 

With over 25 recordings, she recently joined 140 other celebrities in receiving a bronze star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, according to her website.

Other soloists include Debra Hillebrand, mezzo-soprano, Scott Ramsay, tenor, and David Dillard, SIU voice professor.

The SIU Student Fine Arts Activity Fee is a partial sponsor of the appearances of Ms. Brewer and Mr. Ramsay.

Composed by Giuseppe Verdi toward the end of his very successful operatic career, the Requiem Mass made Verdi one of Italy’s most distinguished citizens. Unlike opera, with its plot, costumes and staging, the Requiem is set to a specific Latin religious text that has inspired composers for centuries.

According to SIU director of orchestras, Edward Benyas, Verdi’s setting, with his uniquely successful operatic approach, stands out among cultural works of art.

“I consider the Verdi Requiem not only to be one of the dozen greatest musical masterpieces,” Benyas said, “but one of the dozen or two greatest works of art of Western civilization.”

With the first performance dating back to the late 1800s, the work continues as one of the most popular major choral pieces.

Scored for four soloists and a massive choir and orchestra, this will be the first live performance of Verdi Requiem to come to Southern Illinois. 

To strengthen the musical forces, the Southern Illinois Symphony, SIU Concert Choir and Choral Union are joining with Southeast Missouri State University Symphony, Choir and Choral Union, along with the John A. Logan Choir.

Professors Susan Davenport of SIU, Barbara Lamont of SEMO and Carlyn Zimmerman of John A. Logan College will prepare the choirs separately, with Professor Sara Edgerton of SEMO preparing the Southeast Missouri Symphony.

Benyas will conduct the combined 80-piece orchestra and 150-voice choir in two performances. 

The group will perform at 7:30 p.m. on April 23 at Bedell Performance Hall on the Southeast Missouri State University campus in Cape Girardeau, with another performance at 7:30 p.m. on April 25 at Shryock Auditorium on the SIU campus.

“Our performances in Cape Girardeau and Carbondale will be unprecedented: bringing together two orchestras, five choirs and four distinguished soloists, including the world renowned soprano, Christine Brewer,” Benyas said. 

“To hear this music live with 250 performers on stage at Shryock Auditorium – it will change your life.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for students under 18 or with a college ID. Current SIU students get in free with a student ID.

Tickets for the SIU performance are still available.  Tickets can be bought by phone at 877-SALUKIS (877-725-8547) and online at

Tickets will be available in person an hour before the concert at Shryock Auditorium.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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