Soprano Christine Brewer makes stop at River Campus

Friday, March 23, 2018 ~ Updated 12:11 AM
Grammy Award-winning soprano Christine Brewer is interviewed Thursday before her guest master class in Shuck Recital Hall at the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University.
Fred Lynch

One of BBC Music's top 20 sopranos of all time and Grammy Award-winning opera singer Christine Brewer made a one-day visit Thursday to lead guest master classes at Shuck Music Recital Hall on the Southeast River Campus.

Master classes are designated sessions where someone such as Brewer works with students at 30-minute intervals. On Thursday, students each sang a piece of music, followed by "a little critique" from her.

"For me it's fun, because it helps me," Brewer said. "I love it."

Brewer grew up in Illinois, where her mom sang in a group called the "Shawnee Trio," a fairly well known group at the time, before passing away from ALS at "quite a young" age.

"As a kid growing up down here, I'd sing a solo somewhere, and people would always say, 'Well, that was good, but not as good as your mom," said Brewer, noting the level of comparison was challenging for her as a child.

In her youth, Brewer said she sang at church, in all the high school musicals and even played the violin. She attended McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and majored in music education. She said her voice just "started growing" when she was in her late 20s.

"It was one of those things; I had a nice voice as a kid, but the voice started to grow and become more dramatic," Brewer said.

In 1989, Brewer won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, which she said was the turning point of her career. She soon acquired management in London and New York, and "just started singing all over the world."

Brewer said she never knew a time she didn't sing.

"I always tell young singers, when I'm working with undergrads, especially, every voice develops at a different pace," Brewer said.

Brewer compared singing opera to being an athlete, noting a difference. She said an athlete must start when they're young, but by the time they're 30, they're usually looking for some other kind of employment. For singers, she said, the voice develops later, allowing them to perform into their 40s, 50s and 60s, which is "kind of your prime."

She's performed all over the Unites States and in more than 50 countries, including cities such as Tokyo, London and Paris.

"I try not to take it for granted. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do," Brewer said. "I still get nervous. And if I don't get nervous, I think that something's wrong."

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