This Sunday, River Road Church will be welcoming superb guest musicians not only in the morning for our worship service but also in the afternoon as part of our concert series.

A couple of years ago, Louise and I attended a concert given by the Schola Cantorum of Westminster Choir College – this concert was held at St. James Episcopal Church on Franklin Street here in Richmond. We were greatly impressed by the singing that evening, so I handed my River Road business card to their tour manager immediately after the concert. As a result, I received an email from Westminster with a request to arrange a concert here this weekend. But back in September, River Road had already set up a piano recital for Lynne Mackey, a brilliant Juilliard-trained (Masters and Doctorate) pianist for Sunday afternoon, March 15. The careful advance planning for the concert series on the one hand and a degree of spontaneity in adjusting our worship service on the other will result in a Sunday filled with wonderful, meaningful music.

Here is a brief description of this Sunday’s music:

The choral music in the morning will consist of a series of works that invoke messages of faith, hope, and the power of love to deliver us from darkness. Paul Mealor’s setting of Ubi Caritas was originally sung at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. We will also hear the sixth (final) section of Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, a monumental work which takes us on a journey through grief, rage, contemplation, and hope, reminding us of the great price the world has paid in human lives and suffering. Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem Domine has been translated as follows: “Give peace, O Lord, in our time, because there is no one else who will fight for us if not You, our God.” Pärt’s music, which has been described by some critics as “holy minimalism,” has touched more listeners than any composer of our time, perhaps because of the deeply spiritual and humanly comforting messages and affirmations that it carries within. Let the People Praise Thee, O God (1981), by William Mathias, is an anthem written for the royal wedding of Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. A Welsh composer best known for his anthems and short sacred works, Mathias spent most of his youth and professional life steeped in the Anglican choral tradition.

Lynne Mackey’s piano recital program at 3 o’clock in the afternoon will consist primarily of French impressionist music. The works on Dr. Mackey’s program were composed between the years 1887 and 1929. Although this might seem like a relatively short period of time, a great variety of moods and colors that will be evoked as we hear the inspired music of Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen.

I hope that you will take advantage of these opportunities to feed your soul through music this Sunday.