Recital series schedule announced
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
First Lutheran Church’s Tuesday Noon Recital Series takes place during the months of April, July and October.
Organizers recently announced the line-up of artists who will be performing in the four concerts scheduled for every Tuesday in April.
“In the April series,” said George Fattman, “we tend to feature young musicians, and these are among the best.”
Fattman serves as chairman of the Tuesday Noon Recital Series Task Force. He and a group of volunteers help to bring the series to the community year after year. The church’s series has been taking place for more than three decades.
All recitals begin at noon inside First Lutheran Church, Johnstown. The recitals are free and open to the public.
Organizers will welcome three local high school jazz bands (approximately 50 students) into the sanctuary April 7. Greater Johnstown High School’s jazz band will perform under the direction of Eric Pfeil; Forest Hills under the direction of Mitchell Custer; and Westmont Hilltop under the direction of Josh Brumbaugh. Each band is to perform two songs, and then all the student musicians will present a selection of songs as a group.
“When the Greater Johnstown Jazz Band played last year, both the students and the audience were so enthusiastic that we invited the band to return,” Fattman said. “But its director, Eric Pfeil, suggested something even batter: a combined concert with jazz bands from Forest Hills and Westmont Hilltop.”
Fattman said he’s appreciative of Pfeil’s willingness to help organize this concert.
“Something like this seldom happens,” Fattman said. “It is driven by enthusiasm. The teachers could have said ‘no,’ but they are looking out for the best opportunities for their students. You might not expect it, but these kids are thrilled to play in what is a rather dramatic setting. I think that's one reason all our artists want to return.”
Johnstown Christian School’s Handbell Choir will also be making a return appearance April 14. They’ll be performing under the direction of Kristen Lloyd.
Fattman said this Handbell Choir is unique and entertaining.
“It is a treat to hear this group,” he said. “They are so talented and disciplined that they play as one.”
Local pianist Emily Roy will make her debut appearance as part of series. Her recital will take place April 21. She is to play Cesar Franck’s “Organ Chorale No. 3 in A-Minor” on the church’s historic 3,000-pipe Skinner organ.
“Last spring,” Fattman said, “I heard her play a Beethoven piano sonata. She was amazing. (Hearing her play Franck’s work) will be magnificent on our restored Skinner organ.”
Roy currently serves as the organist and music director at Resurrection Catholic Church in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. Her piano teacher is Robert Lacovic.
Mount Aloysius College’s Vox Nova chorale will perform April 28, which will mark the fourth and final concert in the April series. Directed by Nancy Way, the chorale is to perform a variety of songs.
“Vox Nova was excellent last year,” Fattman said. “Mt. Aloysius does not have a music major, but it does have some good musicians. They are auditioned for this chorale and a related scholarship.”
Fattman said he hopes people in the community will be able to attend one or more of the upcoming recitals, especially because doing so supports young musicians in the area.
“Fortunately, we live in a community that still values music education,” he said, “and First Lutheran gives them an opportunity to perform in grand setting. I think that encourages them.”
A light lunch will follow each of the four recitals.
The series continues to be funded in part by Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
“We are (also) fortunate to have a state arts council that invests in rural areas,” Fattman said. “We can do a lot with a little bit of money, especially when much of the work is done by volunteers. Some of them do the food buying and preparation for lunches. We don't charge for anything, but it is customary for most diners to put a few dollars into a basket.”
Attending a recital at First Lutheran on a Tuesday afternoon is a great way to spend the lunch hour, Fattman added.
“These recitals are happy occasions, and those who attend know that we operate on a tight schedule,” he said. “They get music and lunch within an hour — quite a boost in the middle of a weekday.”