New Britain Symphony wows St. Mark's crowd

Published on Sunday, 2 December 2018 21:30
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEW BRITAIN - The Christmas season isn’t complete for many local residents until they’ve sat in the pews of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and experienced the sounds of the New Britain Symphony Orchestra.

The NBSO’s annual Brass Quintet and Pipe Organ Concert brought 100 people into the church’s nave Sunday, where they enjoyed holiday favorites such as “What Child is This?,” performed solo by organist Floyd Higgins.

The brass quintet accompanied the organ for several selections, including “Carol of the Bells” and “Christmas Day.”

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 “Hallelujah Chorus” composed by George Frideric Handel.

“This is a perfect start to the season,” NBSO Vice President Cynthia Carlson said.

She and fellow members made 10 dozen cookies from scratch, which patrons of the free concert enjoyed afterward.

“New Britain is family and we treat concert attendees like family,” Carlson said.

St. Mark’s parishioner Nancy Judd also happens to be an NBSO past president, so this concert is pretty special for her.

“It is so amazing,” Judd said. “Their ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ is a rousing rendition.”

Sunday’s concert may or may not have been the last one to take place at St Mark’s, which is having financial troubles.

“We’re praying for a miracle,” Judd said.

According to the Rev. Dr. Shaw Mudge, there is still hope the church will remain open.

“Right now we’re waiting for agreements to be signed,” he said Sunday. “If you had asked me three weeks ago, the answer was changing every day.”

Mudge was vague in his insight into the congregation’s future, an uncertainty he partially attributed to “demographics and economics.”

Like many other churches, the number of parishioners at St. Mark’s has decreased dramatically since the 1990s. However, many pews were filled for the concert.

“If we can help the New Britain Symphony Orchestra, it’s helpful to them and us,” Mudge added.

Central Connecticut State University Professor Jeffery Kreeger is new to the NBSO’s board of directors.

“This is my first one,” he said of the concert. “This church is absolutely gorgeous.”

The musicians received just as many compliments as the church did from visitors, who marveled at both the NBSO’s talent and the building’s ornate features.

Tuba player Gibson was among the praise-givers.

“This is unbelievable. What a facility,” he said. “The acoustics, the organ, the stained glass windows. … This concert is a lot of fun for us each year.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Sunday, 2 December 2018 21:30. Updated: Sunday, 2 December 2018 21:32.