By Tim Smith, Organist and Choir Director at Trinity Memorial Church
Update: Now that the trip has been completed, you can enjoy photos and video and audio from the choir’s performances on the Trinity Memorial Church website.
On February 17th, forty-five singers and friends will board a coach bus at Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton and ride to our nation’s capital for a weekend of music.
Two musical events highlight the trip. Our first concert is Saturday evening, February 18th at 7:30 p.m at The Episcopal Church of Saint Stephen and The Incarnation, a parish with a rich history in the heart of Columbia Heights Northwest. Two 19th-century parishes merged in the 1920’s and built a new edifice at Newton and 16th Streets. Since the 1950’s the church has been a witness for social justice; it was the first fully-integrated parish in DC and became the site of the first “irregular ordination of women and the first blessing of a same-sex holy union. St. Stephen’s hosts more than fifteen community organizations that feed and clothe the homeless, bridge gaps between cultures and ideologies on the street, defend women’s safety, foster dialogues for peace, provide job training connections, and even house those coming from across the country to demonstrate for justice at the Capitol. Worship is a rich tapestry of multicultural resources mirroring the parish’s neighborhood.
In the midst of this activity, the church building suffered from periodic water damage that eventually reached the Kilgen pipe organ, housed in a wing of the building with a flat roof. Since the early 1980’s the three-manual organ was reduced to a handful of functioning stops. As the parish raised funds for building renewal in 2014, an anonymous donor made a substantial gift for the organ to be revitalized. The building repairs created an improved acoustic in the nave, and work designed and carried out by Chesapeake Organs has effectively doubled the size of the organ. Additions were made sympathetic to the style of the original organ, but expanding the variety of tonal color beyond what had been in the original scheme.
On Sunday we will worship together at Washington National Cathedral, the U.S. seat of the Episcopal Church. Anyone who has been to the full-scale Gothic cathedral finds it a stunning treasure merging faith and architecture. It will be a treat for our choir to be ministered to by the Cathedral Choir at 11:00 a.m. At 3:30 p.m., the Trinity Choir will offer an unaccompanied choral program, followed by the Cathedral Choir singing Choral Evensong at 4:00 p.m. In a room that seats several thousand, we can only imagine what our voices will feel singing together!
We return to Trinity on President’s Day. I’m guessing there will be lots of activity on Facebook to keep Binghamton informed of our progress through the weekend. Between now and then, the choir has twelve anthems to prepare and polish. Please pray for us to remain healthy on this winter adventure.