NEW BRITAIN - The Christmas season isn‚Äôt complete for many local residents until they‚Äôve sat in the pews of St. Mark‚Äôs Episcopal Church and experienced the sounds of the New Britain Symphony Orchestra.
The NBSO‚Äôs annual Brass Quintet and Pipe Organ Concert brought 100 people into the church‚Äôs nave Sunday, where they enjoyed holiday favorites such as ‚ÄúWhat Child is This?,‚ÄĚ performed solo by organist Floyd Higgins.
The brass quintet accompanied the organ for several selections, including ‚ÄúCarol of the Bells‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúChristmas Day.‚ÄĚ
Joining Higgins in the performance lineup were Kenneth Tedeschi, trumpet; Frank Gawle, trumpet; Marjorie Seymour Callahan, French horn; John Tzetzo, trombone; and Walter Gibson, tuba.
Their much-anticipated concert finale is always ‚ÄúHallelujah Chorus‚ÄĚ composed by George Frideric Handel.
‚ÄúThis is a perfect start to the season,‚ÄĚ NBSO Vice President Cynthia Carlson said.
She and fellow members made 10 dozen cookies from scratch, which patrons of the free concert enjoyed afterward.
‚ÄúNew Britain is family and we treat concert attendees like family,‚ÄĚ Carlson said.
St. Mark‚Äôs parishioner Nancy Judd also happens to be an NBSO past president, so this concert is pretty special for her.
‚ÄúIt is so amazing,‚ÄĚ Judd said. ‚ÄúTheir ‚ÄėHallelujah Chorus‚Äô is a rousing rendition.‚ÄĚ
Sunday‚Äôs concert may or may not have been the last one to take place at St Mark‚Äôs, which is having financial troubles.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre praying for a miracle,‚ÄĚ Judd said.
According to the Rev. Dr. Shaw Mudge, there is still hope the church will remain open.
‚ÄúRight now we‚Äôre waiting for agreements to be signed,‚ÄĚ he said Sunday. ‚ÄúIf you had asked me three weeks ago, the answer was changing every day.‚ÄĚ
Mudge was vague in his insight into the congregation‚Äôs future, an uncertainty he partially attributed to ‚Äúdemographics and economics.‚ÄĚ
Like many other churches, the number of parishioners at St. Mark‚Äôs has decreased dramatically since the 1990s. However, many pews were filled for the concert.
‚ÄúIf we can help the New Britain Symphony Orchestra, it‚Äôs helpful to them and us,‚ÄĚ Mudge added.
Central Connecticut State University Professor Jeffery Kreeger is new to the NBSO‚Äôs board of directors.
‚ÄúThis is my first one,‚ÄĚ he said of the concert. ‚ÄúThis church is absolutely gorgeous.‚ÄĚ
The musicians received just as many compliments as the church did from visitors, who marveled at both the NBSO‚Äôs talent and the building‚Äôs ornate features.
Tuba player Gibson was among the praise-givers.
‚ÄúThis is unbelievable. What a facility,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe acoustics, the organ, the stained glass windows. ‚Ä¶ This concert is a lot of fun for us each year.‚ÄĚ
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.