As the weather changes and the pandemic eases, it has brought a breath of fresh air and new beginnings. Many gatherings were put on hold to keep everyone safe and healthy, but with the guidance and grace of God, people are now able to come together again.
For Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishioners Mark and Teresa Stachofsky, and Mike Dulac, parish music director, live music performances with other musicians was what they missed the most. The trio decided to plan an event that would bring other musicians in the community together and give them a chance to perform live again — something that was not possible the last year and a half.
“Music is a central aspect of worship, faith and life in the Catholic Church” said Teresa, one of the organizers of the concert series. They invited musicians and singers from their parish and others, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, students from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, and anyone wanting the chance to play again. In addition to bringing the community together, they thought it would highlight the historic beauty of the cathedral and to give praise to God.
Dubbed the Cathedral Artists Music Series, the first concert took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception May 2. The theme of the night was classical music written by English composers, fitting to the setting of the cathedral.
Christine Hudson, a parishioner of St. Jude, Fort Wayne, said. “I loved the idea. I think that I missed things like this greatly and I missed beautiful music with beautiful people in one the most beautiful churches in our community. To be able to hear live music and just enjoy the beauty right now, it seems like we haven’t had enough of that.”
Attendees at the first concert heard some of the most famous English composers, such as Henry Purcell, Ralph Vaughn-Williams and John Rutter, all 17th- to 19th-century artists. The sounds of the songs echoed aesthetically throughout the cathedral, bringing a serene calm among the crowd.
Sister Mary Govert and Sister Marilyn Oliver, Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Fort Wayne, both said their favorite part was the last song, “Vivace” (“A-Roving”) by Rutter. “It was so full. The kids were so good. I just think this is a wonderful thing for the community and to be able to have something this great. A nice variety of musicians and see the church” said Sister Marilyn. “I did notice that people kept looking over to the stations, into the stained-glass windows and taking that part in too,” added Sister Mary. Both said they were looking forward to the next concert.
Musicians Joseph and Lindsay Platt, invited to perform by Mark, are parishioners of the cathedral. “The opportunity to play and share is always a fulfilling thing to do. Giving the gift of music to others is always fulfilling,” said Joseph. “I was grateful for the opportunity to share the beauty of the cathedral with others. It’s a unique downtown treasure that many might not know about. Some of the people here tonight may not have been Catholic. So hopefully they got to experience our church and community.”
“It’s an opening for those who aren’t a part of our community,” added Lindsay.
Listeners filled every other pew, as the pews were roped off for social distancing.
“It feels like Fort Wayne is hungry and ready for music and the arts,” said Lindsay. “It was a wonderful opportunity.”
“My experience putting this together has been wonderful,” said Teresa. “It has been so much fun, and it feels so good to sing such wonderful music again. It has been a long time. It’s always nice to use the talents that God gave us.”
The organizers said that they hope the series can be a permanent thing at the cathedral. “We really want to have at least two concerts a year. We would love it if it became more. We’d really like to see this as a place that people can come into this building and see what a great place this is, and maybe consider even coming back on a Sunday morning.” said Teresa.
The next concert is planned to take place in September. The organizers are taking donations to bring in local professional musicians who are going through hardship as a result of the pandemic. To donate, visit www.cathedralfw.org and click on “online giving.”
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