One hundred fifty years ago, on January 13, 1873, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church was founded. Three men and 13 women gathered together in Temperance Hall on Lancaster Pike for the purpose of founding a Reformed congregation in the quickly-growing borough. Making plans to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of our church has been a multi-year process.
Six years ago, we received a generous gift from a member of the Sanctuary Choir and her husband. We quickly realized that this gift could help support a Music and Fine Arts project to commemorate BMPC’s 150th Anniversary. After many emails, letters, and phone calls, renowned Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen agreed to compose seven new choral works for our anniversary celebration. With that minor coup under our belt (Kim is one of the most sought-after composers in the world, with performances in more than 50 countries and several Grammy nominations), Kim reached out to his peers in the literary world, Charles Silvestri and EauanTait, to invite them to provide the texts for these works. Silvestri, a Kansas native, and Tait, fromWales, agreed with enthusiasm! The result of this remarkable collaboration is the creation of seven new anthems for all seasons of the church year.
At the same time, I reached out to my dear friend and mentor, Philippe Lefebvre, organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, to inquire about his availability to play a concert during BMPC’s 150thAnniversary weekend. Philippe, who has performed here a half dozen times over the past 30 years, was delighted and honored to come.
On Saturday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m., Lefebvre will perform works of Marchand, Franck, Debussy, Alain, Dupré and an improvisation on a submitted theme. As with his previous performances at BMPC, the men of the Bryn Mawr Chant Society will participate in the concert, interweaving chant melodies with the sounds of our fabulous Rieger organ. The concert will be preceded by a carillon recital at 7:00 p.m., with a performance by Lisa Lonie, Princeton University carillonneur.
On Sunday, October 15 at 10:00 a.m., the Sanctuary Choir will present the world premiere of Kim André Arnesen’s “Easter” in a special celebratory service. Several weeks later, on All Saints Sunday, another of Arnesen’s works will be premiered. Over the course of the 2023-2024 liturgical season, all seven works will be performed for the first time.
This is a season of celebration. How good it is to be a part of creating beauty in this time of reflection, as we look forward to being a part of God’s plan for BMPC.
To hear an example of Kim Arnesen’s work, check out this YouTube video of “Flight Song,” performed by the Sydney Children’s Choir.