Chamber music series coming to Old St. Luke's in Scott

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Music in keeping with the atmosphere of historic Old St. Luke’s Church will soon be heard when a new chamber music series begins Sept. 14.

“We were looking for a place to have chamber music series,” said Warren Davidson of Troy Hill, who came up with the idea for the series.

He learned of the Scott church through friend Lynne Cochran, who had worked with the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Cochran put him in touch with Larry Weiss of Scott, a musician who is on the board of directors for Old St. Luke’s.

“It’s music performed by a small group of people, unlike an orchestra,” Mr. Davidson said to define chamber music. He plays violin and is concertmaster for the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra’s Academy Chamber Ensemble. Mr. Davidson is also orchestra director at Slippery Rock University and is a faculty member there.

Mr. Davidson said he hadn’t heard of Old St. Luke’s prior to looking for a venue for the chamber music series.

“It’s a beautiful, historic setting,” he said of the church, adding that the acoustics are perfect for music.

“You can drop a pin on stage and it’s heard in the back,” Mr. Weiss said. He has played in the church as a member of the Pittsburgh Historical Music Society.

John Marcinizyn of the Ferla/Marcinizyn Guitar Duo agreed about the sound.

“You can tell just by talking,” he said. “There’s not an overly intense reverberation. The sound just carries.”

Mr. Marcinizyn, of Emsworth, added the space will be “intimate even with 100 people here.”

Jason Neukom of Lawrenceville will play at the church with his group, the Freya String Quartet, in the spring and agreed about the acoustics of the building.

“This sounds very nice, very intimate,” said Mr. Neukom, who also had not heard of the church prior to being asked to play in the series.

Ms. Cochran added, “It’s not just the sound, it’s the feeling. This place just has a good feel.”

Old St. Luke’s Church dates to the 1760s and is built on the site of an old stockade. The church closed to parishioners in 1930, but has been restored and hosts events several times throughout the year. The Rev. Richard Davies is the priest in charge of the church, which also hosts weddings.

According to Old St. Luke’s website, “Today an old stone country Gothic church stands as testimony to the pioneer faith and fortitude that led to the establishment of the Church of England in Western Pennsylvania, the western frontier of that time.”

The types of chamber music that will be heard throughout the series will vary.

Mr. Marcinizyn said he and Jim Ferla play a variety of music on their guitars from arrangements featuring selections from The Beatles to folk guitarist Doc Watson.

Mr. Neukom said the Freya String Quartet will play classical and romantic pieces.

“For Old St. Luke’s we hope to encourage more community recognition of this site,” Mr. Weiss said. “We want to perpetuate this church.” He added, “Most of the music you will hear in this church was written at about the time this church was built.”

All performances will be held at 2 p.m. on select Sundays through May 2015, with the exception of the Dec. 21 performance, which is at 7 p.m. Performances are free and open to the public, although donations are welcome and appreciated.

Deana Carpenter, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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