Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Composer Powell Celebrates 80th Birthday at Special Musical Event
Nationally recognized composer Robert J. Powell celebrates his eightieth birthday with the Friends of Music of Saginaw’s First Congregational Church. He will take part in a musical recital, and the public is invited on Saturday, October 13, at 5:00 p.m. at the church’s historic 405 Jefferson Ave. location. This is the first in the series of musical events offered during the 2012-2013 season. The cost of the event is free, but the suggested donation of $10 will help defray event expenses.
The recital, sponsored as part of a two-day event with the support of First Congregational Church’s Friends of Music, Trinity Episcopal Church (Bay City), and the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, will include select works for organ, piano, voice, and flute. Soprano Rayechel Neiman will be joined by Toronto flutist Katie Welnetz in the varied musical menu. Nicholas Schmelter will accompany on the organ and piano.
Robert J. Powell, who received a Bachelor of Music Degree in organ and composition from Louisiana State University and a Master of Sacred Music Degree from Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music in New York, has composed hundreds of pieces for organ, instrumental ensembles, and choir. Powell has served in many church positions during his professional career including the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Meridian, Mississippi, St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, and Christ Church, Greenville, South Carolina.
First Congregational Church is an acoustically superb building, which dates to 1868, and is located on the corner of Jefferson and Hayden in downtown Saginaw. The congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and has recognized excellence and eclecticism in its musical offerings since the 1800’s.
Music and the performing arts have been a key part of the congregation’s demonstration and outreach for over one hundred years. The church has offered concerts for the general public welcoming Duke Ellington and Virgil Fox, high school and college choirs, the Saginaw Choral Society, the city’s Jazz on Jefferson street festival, the Friends of Music Series of recitals, and several other events. It is the birthplace of The New Reformation Band. Recently, Michigan’s Ninetieth Legislature recognized the key role of the congregation in the preservation of Saginaw’s Cathedral District and in the outreach to the community as a whole: “The example that the members of this church has provided has touched and influenced all the people of Saginaw, and is a tangible demonstration that First Congregational is a church that has not abandoned Saginaw, but rather, keeps working to improve it.”