By Tim Brumfield, Director of Music Ministry
Great Music at St. Gregory’s will present three incredible concerts in the coming weeks! I am so thrilled and honored to welcome the incredible artists who are coming to be with us and I know you will be highly entertained. However, you will also be inspired beyond your wildest expectations!
You already know what Theresa Thomason can do with her marvelous voice. Last year, she filled the sanctuary and the hearts of all those in attendance not only her beautiful voice but with her faith in God and her message of hope and love. Theresa will be joining one of the most incredible musicians alive today, cellist Eugene Friesen. I’ve performed with Theresa and Eugene for many years now as part of the Grammy-winning Paul Winter Consort and I cannot praise this man enough. He is the Wycliffe Gordon of the cello. The cello becomes a different instrument entirely when he plays everything from bossa nova to jazz, from Bach to rock.
You will hear music which the three of us have performed together at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine over the years for the Winter Solstice Celebrations with the Paul Winter Consort, which will include a stunning piece performed with a humpback whale. The Consort recorded the whale as it sang its hauntingly beautiful song as it swam in the ocean. We then improvised a duet with the animal which became a major part of the Solstice Celebrations each year. Where else will you ever be able to hear music like this except at St. Gregory’s or The Cathedral of St. John the Divine? Eugene will wow you with his tribute to Brazilian music and jazz and a couple of Valentine’s Day tunes may be on the program as well! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear this amazing music from three artists who rarely, if ever, appear together outside New York. The concert will be Saturday, February 13, at 7 PM.
Laurel Massé comes to us via New York City and The Manhattan Transfer. Laurel began her career with the award winning Transfer in the 1972 as a founding member and appeared on many television shows and specials, touring with the famed group for several years. Her smooth jazz and cabaret style will take you to a time of nostalgia as she performs some of the great standards of the American Song Book. A devout Episcopalian, you’ll be inspired by her spiritual presence and her testimonial message of faith and hope. Her journey has been a tough one when in 1978 she nearly lost her life in a near fatal automobile accident. Her determination and faith carried her through some very dark times and she has since become a solo artist of incredible magnitude.
Along with pianist Tex Avery, she has recorded several albums and received the MAC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and the Bistro Best Jazz Vocalist in 2009. Laurel has taught and lectured at The International Cabaret Conference and Yale and at other prestigious institutions such as Darmouth and The Royal Academy of Music in London. Our relationship began when I first met Laurel after a worship service at the Cathedral one morning. I began using her talents at the Cathedral and she became a much beloved figure there. Our friendship has now spanned many years and I consider Laurel to be a close friend and musical soulmate. Laurel will present a cabaret/jazz performance in Harris Hall on Saturday, February 27 at 7 PM where guests will sit at decorated tables in Black Box style with wine and hors d’oeurves. DON’T MISS HER!
The American Spiritual Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Everett McCorvey will be with us on Sunday, April 3 at 4 PM. My collaboration with the Ensemble spans several years now and has included performances at The Riverside Church in New York as well as shows in Dallas, Indianapolis, and Lexington. I’m thrilled beyond words that we are able to host them at St. Gregory’s! When I first heard this group, I was blown away by their sound which is never heard outside of a Met Chorus. Every member is a professional opera singer having sung in theaters and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, and many have solo careers. However, when they come together, their individual voices blend together with a heavenly harmonious ring of which the very angels must be envious. You will hear music from a wide variety of styles from spirituals to classical to Broadway and dance, and their renditions of the American Spiritual will leave you spellbound and lift your hearts and spirits to lofty heights. Be prepared to be totally blown away by this incredible group of singers. This is another rare performance which you can only hear at St. Gregory’s!