On March 8, 2020, the Sanctuary Choir and orchestra put on a wonderful Masterworks concert, premiering an exciting new work by Gary Fry and featuring soloists from the church family, of which I was honored to be one. Though we had an inkling that Covid-19 might begin to cause some problems here, I don’t think that any of us could have imagined what the following year would look like, as we were presenting that final large-scale performance in the church.
In the weeks that followed, spring break at the schools was extended before we all realized that we, as teachers, would not be returning to campus. Emails with notifications of canceled performances flooded my inbox. As a performer and a harp teacher, everything about how I do my work and reach my audiences changed, almost overnight. I was able to keep my studio open by teaching through the many platforms we’ve all come to know – FaceTime, Zoom, etc.
Figuring out how to reach an audience when concerts and churches were shut down was much more difficult. When Steve Jobman contacted me to do some recordings for church services and later for the Preston Hollow Sessions, I was honored to be asked and grateful to have the opportunity to perform. What I didn’t anticipate was the reach those recordings would have.
People across the country have tuned into the PHPC Sunday services and, in turn, the Sessions, in which the featured musicians talk about their life in music and explain a bit about their instruments or the works they are performing. It’s a wonderful combination of ministry, outreach, and education tied together with the healing sounds of music.
In this time, when it’s been so hard to feel connected to others, the power of music has been one of the ways we’ve been able to reach out, as a church, and bring comfort to those who have felt isolated.
All of you know how lucky we are to have the ministerial and musical leadership we do at PHPC. We are also blessed with the visionary technical work that Thomas Gusewelle and Michael Groff have done to not only bring the Sessions and the virtual choir projects together but create them in such a thoughtful and artistic way that the audience feels they are sitting in the Sanctuary, amongst the musicians, even as we share in the experience across hundreds of miles.
If you have not already tuned in to one of the Sessions, I encourage you to explore them.You are sure to find well-loved, familiar music, as well as works that are new to you. You’ll also get an up-close look at the instruments, in a way not possible in the live, in-person performance setting. We are all looking forward to worshipping together in the same physical space. Until then, we hope you will join us online!