Sandy Cordes will be stepping down from the Sedalia Chorale after 25 years as director this Sunday in a special 3 p.m. Farewell Concert in the Stauffacher Theater at State Fair Community College.
Cordes said leaving the Sedalia Chorale was not bittersweet — she is leaving with wonderful memories of the talented and inspirational people she’s directed over the years.
“It’s not bittersweet at all,” she said by phone while at the University of Missouri-Columbia acting as a judge for the State Music Festival on Thursday. “I had to have back surgery and I haven’t been able to direct the group normally as I usually do. I made the decision on my own a year ago,” she added. “And my back has dictated my life. It’s pretty difficult to stand for two hours.”
Cordes said that it may be good for the Sedalia Chorale to get a new perspective by having a different director, but she treasures her time working with the group.
“They have been really great to work with, I’ve had some great moments with them.”
Sunday’s 3 p.m concert will be a tag-team event between four directors, Cordes said. Helping her direct will be Kevin Holbert, Mike Grove and Britt Faaborg.
“Britt was my student at one time,” she added. “Back in the old days.”
Board President for the Sedalia Chorale John Wolfe said Cordes has always worked hard.
“She goes like a house a fire with all of these things … she’s very dedicated and hard working,” he said. “I’ve never known anyone that stays as busy as she does. Her bio reads like a book, she’s very thorough and very talented”
He said he knew Cordes had been through a lot this past year with her back issues.
“This is not the way we hoped for her to end her career for the Chorale,” he said. “I’ve learned so much, so has everyone else.”
Wolfe, a 10 year member of the Chorale, said he was never fluent in music while in school, but became involved when he began performing barber shop singing later in life. He credits Cordes with helping him learn.
“I couldn’t read music, but now I can’t sing without it.”
Cordes selected all 11 songs for the concert; some of them being her favorites.
Among the pieces are “Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace,” by Mary McDonald, “You Raise Me Up,” by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham, and “The Seal Lullaby,” by Eric Whitcare.
“I’ve done most of them over the years,” Cordes said.
But, her favorite selection is “The Awaking” by Joseph Martin that has a very deep and personal meaning for her.
“It’s the last piece on the concert,” she said. “It was written in honor of a music teacher.”
Martin wrote the piece when he was in seventh or eighth grade, Cordes said. It was for his music teacher who was shot and killed in her classroom at the the school he was attending.
“As time went on, he realized what an impact she had on his life,” Cordes added.
She said the piece honors the connection music teachers make with their students and the influence and impact they have on their lives.
Cordes’s first music degree was in strings not voice, she said. She has a Master of Arts in Music Education from the Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, now the University of Central Missouri, and a Bachelor of Music Education also from CMSU. Cordes has been retired for 35 years from teaching music in the public school system. She has received the Outstanding Educator for the Sedalia School District 200, the Outstanding Music Alumni from UCM and was Who’s Who Among American Teachers, plus holds many other honors.
She fondly remembers at age 12, up until she began directing the chorale, playing with the Sedalia Symphony and how it shaped her musical mindset by having mentors such as director Abe Rosenthal.
“I played in it when Mr. Rosenthal was in it,” she said. “He actually picked me up every Monday night at my house, he was wonderful.”
She has no special plans after stepping down, she said, but will stay on as director of her church choir at Calvary Episcopal as well as still giving private voice lessons, in her home to 21 students, and teaching voice at State Fair Community College.
She will also keep directing the annual Christmas event Handel’s “Messiah.”
Cordes said her decision was based mainly due to her own health, but now her husband Howard Cordes has had recent health issues. They have been married for 46 years.
“Sometimes the Lord taps you on the shoulder and says, ‘you better take a look at this,’” she said.
She leaves with a full heart given to her by the many musical talents amassed in quarter century of her tenure in the Sedalia community serving as director of the Sedalia Chorale.
“The Sedalia Chorale is a great group to work with. It’s one of Sedalia’s treasures along with the Sedalia Symphony and the Liberty Center and the Sedalia Park Band. I think those groups, the people don’t realize the sacrifice the members put into it,” she added. “Volunteer groups are truly a treasure.”
“She’s an incredible individual,” Wolfe said. “And we are hoping for a great turnout Sunday.”
The concert will begin at 3 p.m; adult admission is $10, students are free with ID.