Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Noonday Recitals Highlight Great Lakes Bay Region Talent
Professional and amateur musicians of the Great Lakes Bay Region will be highlighted in thirty-minute noonday recitals at historic First Congregational Church, 403 S. Jefferson Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607. Six Brown Bag Lunch concerts will take place the Fridays of Lent beginning at 12:15 p.m.
The first recital, sponsored by John and Barb Stark, is February 15; repertoire includes the music of Telemann and Vaughan Williams. Dr. Steven Egler (Midland), William Ostler (Saginaw), and Thom Zantow (Midland) perform Sonata a tre for recorder, horn, and harpsichord; Jim Hargett (Saginaw) and Nicholas Schmelter (Saginaw) perform Six Studies in English Song realized for clarinet and piano. Organists Jay Michaud and Calla Ringgenberg, students of Central Michigan University’s School of Music, perform on February 22. Nicholas Schmelter performs a solo organ recital on March 1. Egler, the congregation’s Artist in Residence and Professor of Organ at Central Michigan University, performs an organ recital in the Iliff Chapel on March 8. Dee Dee Tibbits (Caro) performs using hammered dulcimer and other folk instruments on March 15. The final recital, March 22, will highlight Robert Hart (Midland) in repertoire for flute by Bach and Foote. Schmelter will accompany.
All organ recitals take place in the Iliff Chapel on the pipe organ built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co, Inc. Instrumental recitals take place in the large sanctuary. A coffee and cookie reception hosted by the Bridget Fuller Circle of First Congregational Church will follow each performance in the narthex area.
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 also 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.”
First Congregational Church’s sanctuary boasts an organ built by the Ernest M. Skinner Company of Boston (1928) that is presently undergoing a major restoration, which will be completed in September 2013. The chapel houses an unaltered two-manual, nine rank pipe organ, built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. (Opus 1327). Among other instruments, First Congregational Church houses two Steinway pianos, two harpsichords, six octaves of handbells, and dozens of recorders, percussion instruments, and Orff instruments.
The congregation’s comprehensive music programs have attracted professional and amateur musicians, music educators, and enthusiasts for decades. More than fifty choir members and Friends of Music serve as the program’s on-site technical base that is almost entirely volunteer. In 2011, the congregation welcomed Dr. Steven L. Egler, Professor of Organ at Central Michigan University, as its first Artist in Residence.
Dozens of Friends of Music initiatives take place annually and are self-sustaining. These events bring together regional artists of all ages and skill.
If you would like more information about the Friends of Music or if you would like to support the series of events, please contact Nicholas Schmelter, Director of Music Ministries, at the church office center, (989) 754-6565, or visit the group’s blog, http://fcc-musicfriends.blogspot.com/.