May will be a sacred concert month for Auburn’s downtown churches with opportunities to hear musical programs offered by a 35-voice chorale, featured soloists, a chamber orchestra, and outstanding organists.
On Sunday, May 1, at 4 PM, MasterWorks Chorale of Central New York, conducted by Kip Coerper, will present “Mozart, Mary, and More” at St. Mary’s Church, 15 Clark Street. The program will include Mozart’s “Missa Brevis” (or Sparrow Mass), three versions of the “Ave Maria” from different centuries, and a work written for the pandemic last year by Central New York composer Dan Forrest entitled "Light Beyond Shadow”. The concert will conclude with the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem. Soloists include Emily King and Nancy Hart; the choir will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra, pianist Barbara Mushock, and trumpeter Lee Turner. Tickets for this concert are not needed, but a suggested donation of $10 is encouraged, with a portion of the proceeds to fund medical supplies for Ukraine.
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 17 William Street, will celebrate its newly restored E.M. Skinner pipe organ with a rededication and recital on Friday, May 6, at 7 PM in the sanctuary, as one of Auburn’s “First Friday” events. The program is free and open to the public and will feature three talented organists, who will demonstrate both the versatility and majesty of the “King of Instruments”.
Lori Rhodes-Pettit, organist and music director at Westminster Church, will play the hymn version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in tribute to our church’s capital campaign of the same name, which raised nearly $300,000 in grants, donations, pledges, and stock transfers for funding the $350,000 organ restoration project. Ms. Pettit will also accompany soprano soloist Diane deRoos, who will reprise two songs from the original 1926 organ dedication recital: Gounod’s “Ave Maria” and Mendelssohn’s “O Rest in the Lord” from “Elijah”.
Also featured will be organist Toni Sullivan, Director of Music at the Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, who has studied church music at Westminster Choir College and Hartt School of Music. Ms. Sullivan will play Widor’s Toccata from his 5th Symphony for Organ.
The third organist at the May 6th dedication will be Kip Coerper, Organist and Choirmaster of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles, NY, and an organ and choral conducting graduate of the College of Wooster in Ohio. He furthered his musical education studying at Westminster Choir College, the Hartt School of Music, Catholic University of America, and the University of the South. He is also a member of the American Guild of Organists and has received its Service Playing and Choirmaster Certificates. Mr. Coerper’s selections will include “Rhosymedre” by Ralph Vaughan-Williams and J.S. Bach’s “In Thee is Gladness”, another piece that was played for the original dedicatory recital. The concert will conclude with the congregational singing of a rousing hymn “When in Our Music God is Glorified”.
On Friday, May 20, at 7:30 PM, the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will host a concert on Westminster’s restored E.M. Skinner (Opus 579) pipe organ, which will be played by Colin MacKnight. Called “a stunning player of exceptional ability,” Colin has won prizes from the 2019 Paris Music Competition, 2017 West Chester University International Organ Competition, 2016 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition, 2016 Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition, 2013 Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition, first place at the 2016 AGO Northeast Regional Competition and the Clarence Snyder Third Prize in the 2016 and 2019 Longwood Gardens International Organ Competitions. He is currently Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Little Rock, AR.
Tickets for the May 20th Colin MacKnight organ recital will be available at Westminster Presbyterian Church (pre-sale and at the door) and from the Syracuse AGO for $8 (adults), $5 (seniors), and students are free.
The public is welcome and encouraged to take advantage of these three local opportunities to hear outstanding choral and instrumental performances by skilled musicians.
Audrey McNally is an elder and choir member at Westminster Church and a member of the MasterWorks Chorale of CNY.