For 14 years, St. John’s Episcopal Church has been giving the gift of music to the community with a series of concerts in a wide variety of genres.
This weekend, the church is sponsoring not one but two big musical events. On Friday (Oct. 14), Seattle pianist Dave Peck headlines the church’s first cabaret-style concert. On Sunday, Seattle’s acclaimed Choral Arts Northwest will perform Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” in the Capitol rotunda.
Last December, Choral Arts Northwest performed at the White House at a reception for the Democratic National Committee.
“It was an amazing adventure,” said Matthew Blegen of Union, the choir’s executive director.
The singers had a private meeting with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
“The Secret Service warned us, ‘OK, the Obamas are coming in, and there’s one thing you need to know about them: They’re huggers,’ ” Blegen said.
Choral Arts Northwest, which includes many singers with graduate degrees in music, performs many complicated works, he said.
In “Vespers,” for example, the vocal parts go in unexpected directions.
“It’s unusual and surprising and beautiful,” he said. “It’s one of the premiere examples of choral orchestration — using the voices as instruments.”
“It’s an utterly exquisite piece,” said Warren Guykema of Des Moines, who organizes the concert series along with Curt Sather, St. John’s organist and choirmaster. “I lobbied them to do it here.”
The choral group arranged to have the performance in the rotunda, where the acoustics are right for this musically complex piece, Blegen said.
“This work was written for that kind of space,” he said. “It will be like bathing in the music rather than just listening to it.”
It’s also a treat to have Peck playing in town, said Guykema.
The Earshot Jazz Hall of Famer is the son of Bob Peck, who attends St. John’s.
“Dave’s dad is very proud,” Guykema said. “While Dave has played in Olympia in the past, it has been a long time.”
Tickets were selling briskly for the cabaret, Guykema said. Those who are interested in attending can call Traditions Cafe & World Folk Art to find out if any tickets remain.
Though the church’s concert series has typically been offered by donation, this weekend’s events both require tickets, though “Vespers” is free to students. Proceeds from the cabaret will benefit the concert series.
The rest of the season — including concerts by Seattle Pro Musica and The Esoterics, both among Seattle’s top choral groups — will be offered by donation as usual. Events at the church include a post-concert reception with the artists, and free childcare is available.
The concert series draws sizable crowds. The Organ and Bagpipe Spectacular held Oct. 2 attracted 250-300 people, Guykema said.
“We now have people contacting us to see if they can perform as part of the series,” he added.
Music at St. John’s
St. John’s Episcopal Church’s concert series, now in its 14th year, offers its first cabaret style event and its first concert in the Capitol Rotunda.
▪ Dave Peck with opening trio Joe Baque, LaVon Hardison and Steve Luceno. 7 p.m. Friday (Oct. 14) at St. John’s, 114 20th Ave. SE, Olympia. $30 including dinner and a glass of wine. Tickets available at Traditions Cafe, 300 Fifth Ave. SW, Olympia. 360-705-2819.
▪ Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” by Choral Arts Northwest. 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the rotunda of the Washington State Capitol, 215 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Olympia. $28; $24 for seniors and military, free for students. choral-artsnw.org.
▪ Seattle Pro Musica. 3 p.m. Nov. 6 at St. John’s. By donation; $20 suggested, $10 suggested for seniors. Concerts at the church include a reception following and free childcare. 360-352-8527.
▪ The Esoterics. 3 p.m. April 2 at St. John’s. By donation. 360-352-8527.
▪ Bach’s birthday recital by organist Curt Sather. March 21. Donation suggested. 360-352-8527.
To receive information about future concerts, send an email to email@example.com, and include your phone number.