The choir of St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock will present a concert to benefit the Watauga Children’s Council and the Watauga Humane Society on Saturday, August 19th at 4 pm in the nave of the church. The concert, affectionately called “KenFest”, is part of an annual homecoming weekend for current and former choir members and honors the memory of Dr. Ken McKinney, an internationally-known Geology professor at AppState University, and a founding member of the St. Mary’s choir. Dr. McKinney was passionate about issues relating to the environment, equality, and social justice, and the choir each year donates all proceeds from Kenfest to one or two such organizations. (No admission fee is charged; attendees simply donate as they wish and are able.)
This year’s Kenfest music and readings are centered on the theme “For Love, a Song”, reflecting the way music conveys all kinds of love – Godly love, motherly love, romantic love, and the love of life that brings us joy, sometimes on our darkest days. Readings include poems by Sara Teasdale, Mary Oliver, and Joyce Kilmer (best known for his poem “Trees”, and after whom a National Forest in Western North Carolina is named). Music includes Antiphon, Serenade to Music, and Bright is the Ring of Words by Ralph Vaughn Williams, the 15th Century I Sing of a Maiden by Hadley, the gorgeous duet Dôme épais from the opera Lakmé by Delibes, Schubert’s An Die Musik, and the Magnificat from theCollegium Regale by Howells.
The choir of St Mary of the Hills has performed many times with various chamber orchestras, but its focus remains unaccompanied singing, primarily at regular Sunday morning mass and monthly choral evensong. Dr. James Bumgardner has been organist and choirmaster at St Mary’s since 1987, and has led the choir on many trips to study with the foremost directors of Anglican choral music in Cambridge, England, including the late George Guest at St John’s College, Stephen Cleobury at King’s College, and Tim Brown at Clare College. The group has three times been choir-in-residence at Durham Cathedral in England and once at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in New York City, and has represented the state of North Carolina at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
St. Mary of the Hills is on Main Street in Blowing Rock. For more information, please call the church office at 828.295.7323, or visitMusicfromStMaryoftheHills on Facebook.