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A musical celebration of life: Carolyn Bremer honored at memorial service

Audience members fought back tears as both alumni and students filled the stage and lined the aisles of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center auditorium to sing a final goodbye for Carolyn Bremer.

The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music held a memorial to celebrate the life of the late Carolyn Bremer, associate director of the Conservatory. Carolyn died unexpectedly on Sept. 2 due to a rare side effect of her dermatomyositis, an extremely rare autoimmune disease that affects the muscles and skin.

Over 700 friends, family, students, faculty and alumni attended the memorial Friday donned in clothing that reflected Carolyn’s various interests from Dodgers shirts to a complete Princess Leia costume.

“We designed [the memorial] in the hopes that it would be something we think she would enjoy,” said Lianne Bremer, Carolyn’s sister.

A brass quintet greeted attendees at the patio with bright fanfares, setting the celebratory tone that carried on throughout the memorial.

Lianne delivered a heartfelt eulogy, comprised of a collection of warm anecdotes that brought the entire room to both tears of laughter and sorrow. The compilation of memories, from their childhood to days before Carolyn’s passing, was broken up by performances from The Eulogettes, an all-male vocal quartet comprised of Carolyn’s former students.

Alex Stephens, one of the four vocalists and a 2011 alumnus, didn’t hesitate when he was contacted to be a part of the memorial program.

“I needed to be there,” Stephens said. “[Carolyn] absolutely more than deserves for me to be there and to put in whatever it takes to help this service take place.”

Performances by The Eulogettes were sprinkled throughout the eulogy as a soundtrack to Carolyn’s life, delivering comical lyrics sung to the themes of “Dr. Who,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” a few of Carolyn’s favorites, according to Lianne.

Senior vocal performance major Kelsey Reynolds recalled Carolyn’s character and spirit, relating it to one of Carolyn’s favorite book series.

“She was literally the Dumbledore of our Conservatory with just how positive and loving she was,” Reynolds said. “She was always the first one to talk about self care and generosity and caring about others.”

The memorial served as a space for those in attendance to remember and honor Carolyn. Her life was honored in various ways such as instrumental performances, vocal performances, poems and a segment called “Facebook memories” where excerpts of posts written on Carolyn’s timeline following her passing were read aloud by Heidi Harger and Emma McAllister, former students and close friends.

“It’s overwhelming the outpour of love and support,” Lianne said. “I know she loved [the students and faculty] and now I got to hear them love her.”

Generations of Carolyn’s students throughout her 17 years at the Conservatory came together to sing “Irish Blessing,” filling the room with a decade of voices that knew and loved Carolyn. The performance was conducted by Jonathan Talberg, director of choral, vocal and opera studies at the Conservatory.

“The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music has become a village and we owe a lot of that becoming a village to the woman that we celebrate today,” Talberg said.

The Carolyn Bremer Memorial Fund for Student Excellence was established by the Conservatory in Carolyn’s honor. Funds will go towards helping underserved and under-funded students.

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