Artists in Action: Parker concert series to pay for church renovations
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Jan 14, 2011 | 2933 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“We can do this if we put our shoulder to the wheel,” Parker Memorial Baptist Church member Jane Burnham insists, as the congregation’s members seek to retire the sanctuary’s renovation debt.

Burnham’s way of handling the task is more delicate but just as effective: She’ll be putting her fingers to the keys. The long-time member of Parker Memorial has planned a series of concerts, “Jane and Friends,” with fellow musicians to raise money to pay off what’s owed for a major renovation project completed recently. Her plan is to present musical programs through April.

The first set of concerts will be Friday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. Because the performance venue, the chapel in the church’s Christian Life Center, is small, seating will be limited for each part of the series, with 125 tickets sold for each set of performances. Tickets are $10 per person.

“We’re not far from crossing the finish line,” said Burnham, who is the church’s pianist emeritus, about paying off the debt. As she has done before, the retired piano teacher and organist at Parker Memorial has decided to make music work for the church’s project, “Restoring God’s House.” With the sale of her compact discs of piano medleys and her “Fabulous Fridays,” similar to “Jane and Friends,” she has raised more than $25,000 for the renovation fund.

The three musicians featured in the January program are Vicki Brock, church organist; Diane Chong, violinist and teacher at Gadsden State Community College; and Burnham. They will play light classical selections, Burnham said, which call back moments from movies and Broadway, plus a few folk songs. It will be familiar music — and a sing along, too, Burnham is quick to add.

Singing will be the focus in February when the church’s Ladies Ensemble performs. And in March, Parker Memorial’s guitar players will take the platform.

“And, in April …” continues Burnham, with a smile. “Well, that’s a surprise.”

Burnham came to Anniston in the early 1950s and joined Parker Memorial when B. Locke Davis was pastor and L. Griff Perry Jr. was organist and choir director.

“As long as I have been a member, the Ministry of Music has been central to worship here,” Burnham comments. “Therefore, it seemed appropriate to me to create this new program and let the proceeds go to the renovation of our beautiful sanctuary.”

Brock, who holds a double master’s degree, one in organ performance and one in church music, plays the Möller organ each Sunday.

It is a fine instrument, with a long history, Burnham said, and becoming rare because it’s not built anymore. Gwen Moore plays the Steinway piano for worship services. Parker Memorial has both a choir and an orchestra, and in Burnham’s eyes, the setting for Sunday’s music each week is perfect.

“The interior now has a feeling of peace and inspiration about it,” Burnham added. “And the acoustics are wonderful.”

The series is open to the public. Tickets are available in the church office and at the front desk in the Christian Life Center behind the church, which is accessible from Leighton Avenue.

Boomers by CAST

CAST’s comedy Dearly Departed is on tap for Feb. 3-13 at McClellan Theater. For its spring production, the community theater will present Boomers, a musical revue of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Kim Dobbs, artistic director of CAST, and Michael Fauss of Atlanta, who is the musical director for the show, created it. Boomers, which CAST offered in 2005 and 2006, toured the country before that, Dobbs said, and has been performed in Atlanta several times. Opening night for CAST’s Boomers, which is on the season’s ticket, will be April 28, with the final show on May 8.
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