July 14, 2015 |
In 2007, Brian Middleton, a businessman in Bedminster, Bucks County, received an awkward phone call from a friend. "He'd met a guy at his church who'd written a musical, and he asked if I would come over to listen and consider investing," Middleton said. "In all candor, I thought it was going to be a really uncomfortable meeting. " The aspiring composer, Christopher Smith, was an amateur who didn't know how to read or even write music. But Middleton thought he couldn't say no - so he listened to Smith sing love songs for two hours.
February 20, 2015 |
Their inspiration was a marathon - a group of college students singing 658 hymns for 30 straight hours. But Forrest Moyer, the archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, decided to spread out his version of the long-distance music run. His interpretation calls for local music lovers to gather and together croon more than 600 songs in just 12 sittings this year. The result is a series of monthly two-hour a cappella singfests that are part of the Heritage Center's 40th anniversary celebration, a kind of Year of the Hymn that also salutes the Mennonite songbook.
December 2, 2014 |
The keynote guest - the pope himself - has already been announced, as have an official prayer and icon. On Sunday, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput checked off yet another box on the list of preparations for next year's World Meeting of Families: the debut of an official hymn. "Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom," commissioned from liturgical composer Normand Gouin, was sung for the first time Sunday at a Mass that Chaput celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Gouin, now at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., is a former music director at Old St. Joseph's Church in Society Hill.
November 16, 2012 |
Whether as player or composer, there is no end to stately trumpeter Dave Douglas' invention or passion. None of his albums, however, have the studied conviction or emotional weight of 2012's Be Still . He couldn't be any closer to his most recent theme: his mother, Emily Douglas, who was 78 when she surrendered to ovarian cancer. She was a religious woman who loved Protestant hymns as much as she dug her son's music. "I did the math: She probably attended over 200 of my gigs," Douglas says.
November 4, 2012 |
AMID THE COLLAPSED facade of New Thankful Baptist Church, at 18th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, on Aug. 11, 2009, was a piano that was clearly visible in the wreckage. It was the piano that Sarah Caine Young had played at services. In fact, Sarah was the first pianist and organist at the North Philadelphia church, and her music accompanied the gospel hymns that resonated in the building for more than 20 years. Sarah Young, a 35-year employee of the U.S. Department of Human Services, a doting mother and grandmother and world traveler, died Sunday.
September 23, 2011 |
Marissa Nadler's songs create a world unto themselves. They shift in and out of focus; they slide among styles; they sound ancient but contemporary; they're pretty but often disquieting. In the words of one new song, they're "eerie hymns. " With her fingerpicked acoustic guitar and her fragile, careful voice, Nadler built on the British folk tradition of late '60s singers such as Vashti Bunyan on her early albums. Her newest work ranges more deeply and broadly, with hints of early Joni Mitchell in terms of precise imagery as well as of Mazzy Star for hazy atmosphere.
March 22, 2011
By Ron Avery It dates back to 1803, but there is an intimate and violent connection between the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and Philadelphia. Somewhere at the murky bottom of the port of Tripoli lies the remains of an American warship, the USS Philadelphia. It was built for the Navy in its namesake city at the end of the 18th century, using funds raised by Philadelphians. The graves of two naval heroes closely connected with the ship - William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur - can be found in local graveyards less than a mile apart.
September 19, 2010 |
The pews were filling at Boothwyn's Trinity Episcopal Church last Sunday when the rector and vicar found themselves in a quandary. Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. was making his first parish visit in the Diocese of Pennsylvania since 2007, when he was suspended for ignoring his brother's sex abuse of a teen girl decades ago. Acquitted by a church appeals court over the summer, he was back in charge. Minutes before Bennison was to process into the sanctuary, the two priests lugged the oak bishop's chair across the chancel and placed it at the bottom of the altar steps.
March 16, 2010 |
Holy Trinity Baptist Church, midwinter. On the 1800 block of Bainbridge Street, two blocks south of the former Graduate Hospital, Holy Trinity is taller than its rowhouse neighbors. Its 118-year-old facade is in good shape, although the wallpaper inside the sanctuary has started to peel. Sitting in a pew, jazz violinist John Blake Jr. pointed to a small loft above the pulpit. It was there that it all started for him, there that his mother, Carrie Blake, played organ for more than 20 years.
January 31, 2010 |
"I will always be looking down and watching over you. " My niece Marissa Norwood whispered those prophetic words to me in one of our special late-night telephone conversations. Less than a month later, she was gone. Although she had tried to prepare my family and me, none of us were ready for that moment when 12-year-old Marissa slipped away quietly on a cold night six days before Christmas. While I mourn the loss of my only niece and her unfulfilled dreams, I celebrate the life of a little girl who tried to make a difference in the world and touched many lives with her "Legacy of Kindness" foundation.