Artists from four boroughs will be performing concerts on Tuesday lunchtime next month at First Lutheran Church in downtown Johnstown.
“The concert series began in the early 1990s when our pastor and music pastor decided to do something for the people in the city center,” said George Fattman of First Lutheran Church. “At first it was a brown bag, but eventually volunteers started serving lunch. Seated meals were suspended with COVID.
“Our artists are mainly divided into two categories: established professional musicians like Bryce Rabideau from Pittsburgh, who received a standing ovation for a program of jazz pieces he wrote for the mandolin, and church musicians or college students who appreciate the opportunity to do a recital showcase.”
Revered Cambria County gospel singer Darlene Herndon Seals will perform on October 5th. She is accompanied by Devon Haselrig, also from Johnstown.
“Music has given me many unforgettable experiences,” said Seals, “when I sang for an audience of two to well over 2,000 people. It has always been and always will be my most precious gift that I can so humbly pass on, the gift of song. “
Seals’ repertoire goes beyond gospel to include jazz, soft rock and rhythm and blues. She also does interpretive readings.
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Haselrig is a member of the music department of three churches: Cambria AME Zion, St. James Missionary Baptist, and Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist. He has also produced programs for various events and is a consultant for the recital series.
The recitals are taken care of by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the lunchtime contributions. Due to the Covid restrictions, packed lunches will be distributed to take away after the concert.
“Fewer people work downtown these days and hardly anyone has an hour off at lunchtime,” said Fattman. “In the meantime, many elderly, poor and frail people have moved into nearby high-rise apartments.
On October 12th, Eileen Mitchell of Blair County will sing a program of easy classics. She is music director at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tyrone. She was previously the director of vocal music for secondary school in the Juniata Valley School District.
Your companion will be Robin Malloy from Indiana.
On October 19th, Kim Rauch from Hollsopple will play the Skinner organ with 3,000 pipes from First Lutheran. It will be a homecoming for Rauch, who 30 years ago co-founded the lunchtime concert series with Rev. Robert G. Swanson as the parish music minister.
Rauch is Program Director of the Grand Halle, a concert and reception hall in Johnstown.
On October 26th, Nicholas Carroll of Somerset will play a recital on First Lutheran’s restored Steinway piano. Carroll is a piano teacher and music director at Trinity Lutheran Church. He will perform a Mozart sonata.
“The series has been well received and supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, which takes into account the quality of the performances, management and marketing levels, and audience response,” said Fattman. “A year ago the PCA developed our status further and placed us in the same category as art centers, theaters and symphony orchestras. We are relatively small with a small budget, thanks to many volunteers and the willingness of the artists to play for modest fees.”