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Sacred music and poetry for contemplative times
A local musical director welcomes everyone to a place of music, words, peace and comfort.
Musical and poetic luminaries gather in Langley to offer “A Sacred Concert of Remembrance and Reflection” at Langley United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 6.
Organizer Bill Humphreys, the musical director of the church who leads its Chancel Choir along with Betsy Arand, said he wants folks to know that although the concert is happening during Holy Week, it is not a church worship service.
“The main intent is to create, through music and words, a place for personal reflection on the lives of those who have left this earthly plane, and what that means for our own lives and eventual deaths,” Humphreys said.
To that end Humphreys has gathered a roster of exquisite Whidbey Island musicians who will perform a variety of music including Gloria Ferry-Brennan, violin, James Hinkley, cello, Paula Pugh, violin, Stuart Hambley, trombone, Claudia Walker, harp and soprano, Kathy Fox, piano and organ, the Chancel Choir, soprano Anna McLeod, soprano Suzi Stonebridge, and baritone-bass and guitarist Alan Benson.
Also on the program is the equally exquisite voice of poet Judith Adams reading her poem “About Death,” as well as lending her voice to W.H. Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks” and others. Pastor Mary Boyd and retired pastor John Worthington, also will read a selection of poetry.
The program is eclectic, and not only does it mix words with music, but also the classical with the contemporary.
Hinkley has arranged several pieces for the evening including Faure’s “Pavane” for string quartet; George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Django Reinhardt’s “Tears,” for cello, trombone and strings and Bizet’s “Carmen” for strings. The choir will join Hinkley to open the concert with John Rutter’s “Out of the Deep,” an arrangement of Psalm 130.
Other musical interludes include Hambley on trombone playing “Softly, As I Leave You,” accompanied by his mother, Fox, on piano.
Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music makes an appearance along with Faure’s requiem “Pie Jesu,” as sung by another daughter of the island, McLeod, while organist Fox will accompany Stronebridge who lends her rich soprano to “Wondrous Love” along with the choir.
Other pieces on the program are “All My Trials, Lord” sung by Benson and “Come Sunday,” a Duke Ellington and His Orchestra original with the choir and soloists belting it out accompanied by Ferry-Brennan, Hinkley and Pugh. The evening closes with Faure’s “In Paradisium,” a final movement from that composer’s requiem, which invokes blessings on the dead for eternal peace.
Much of the music chosen for the program is sacred in nature, Humphreys noted, drawn as some of it is from sacred Christian classics such as the requiem masses. But sacred, he said, can mean different things to people.
“Here we hope to bridge convention, religious traditions and expectations,” Humphreys said.
“We hope that it will be an opportunity for people of any persuasion to hear great music and poetry that can bring solace, comfort or just plain artistic enjoyment.”
Langley United Methodist Church is at the corner of Third Street and Anthes Avenue.
Admission is by a $5 recommended donation.