Backpacking on a Musical Journey

March 1, 2017

Whit Whitaker, Lexington Singer

Lexington, Kentucky is quickly becoming a veritable mecca for arts diversity and entertainment.  On any given evening one can bear witness to a collage of artistic experiences that promise to soothe the hunger of even the most discriminate of artistic palates – from theater to opera to a bevy of musical and visual arts offerings.  Sunday March 5, 2017 is no different, though this particular arts presentation will be uniquely linked to a wonderful community offering that addresses an all too common problem – hunger.

The Lexington Singers, under the direction of Dr. Jeff Johnson, will be presenting a free concert as a part of the First United Methodist Church Voices series to support the FUMC Backpack program, which helps to provide nutrition to students who have been identified by their schools as most likely to be hungry on the weekends.  The concert will be presented at First United Methodist Church at 4:00 p.m.  The Lexington Singers are collaborating with First United Methodist Church to help support the backpack program, which is now in its 4th year.

The program is heralded by The Seasons of Life Friendship Circle, a group of energized volunteers affiliated with First United Methodist Church.

“Each year we work on this mission, we learn more about how best to serve these students. I can’t count the number of stories I have heard from teachers about students they have had in their classrooms who are so happy to return to class on Mondays because they know they are guaranteed at least two meals that day. It is so difficult to comprehend such food insecurity in our prosperous community, but we are determined to help as many children as we can to feel a little more confident about sustenance during their weekends.” – Cindy Dominick, FUMC Backpack Program

Each week the program volunteers pack clean donated Kroger bags with kid-friendly, nutritious, shelf-stable food and deliver them to these at-risk students who endure weekends on empty stomachs without proper nutrition.  This program provides healthy food to 60 children each week throughout the year, 50 children from Deep Springs Elementary and 10 children from Beaumont Middle School.  The students who receive these bags rely on school meals as their primary source nutrition.  Of course, The Lexington Singers and the FUMC Backpack Program are encouraging all attendees to support this worthwhile community event by contributing with your generous food donations, as well as considering a financial donation to support the Backpack program and the First United Methodist Voices series which continues to bring free concerts to the community. Suggested donations include:

  • Individual sized cereal
  • Peanut butter or cheese crackers
  • Fruit cups or applesauce cups
  • Single serve raisin boxes
  • Single serve pasta meals (microwavable)
  • Granola bars
  • Pop tarts
  • Pudding cups
  • Cash donations

Your reward for helping to provide nutritious weekend meals for children will be a healthy helping of philanthropy, wonderful music on this Masterworks Preview concert, communing with old and new friends, and a warm heart from knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of young children.

The Masterworks Preview concert will feature music to be performed in April 2017 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  The major work to be performed on this program is the Messe Solennelle, Op. 16 by French organist and composer Louis Victor Jules Vierne (born 8 October 1870), who served as the principal organist at the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris from 1900 until his death 2 June 1937 in Paris France.  A student of César Franck and Vidor, Vierne wrote this beautiful work in 1899, a work that exemplifies some of the most beautifully written choral part writing, paralleling the virtuous sensitivity and solemnness of the Catholic Solemn Mass text.

The Lexington Singers will contribute to this wonderful work by bringing the sensitive nature of the music and text to life and off the page with help of organist David Cooper.  Mr. David Cooper is a graduate of The Juilliard School, New York, New York where, as a student of pianist Earl Wild, he received both the undergraduate and master’s degrees in piano.  Mr. Cooper later received his doctorate degree in piano performance from The University of Kentucky.  A native of North Carolina, David has performed both as pianist and organist in recital, chamber music, and as soloist with orchestra across the United States and in Europe.  He was organist with the choir of the Church of The Good Shepherd during their residency at Gloucester Cathedral, England.  David currently serves as organist at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.  In addition, he is a member of the Fine Arts Faculty at The Lexington School.

This performance event promises to be a worthwhile experience for the audience, arts patrons and community advocates who thrive on helping to improve our communities and contributing to the welfare of the children and supporting the local arts and artists.  While most of us were not fortunate enough to witness the first performance of Vierne’s Messe Solennelle in 1901, this will be your opportunity to be among the first to see and hear the Lexington Singers perform this rarely heard mass and other selections by Moses Hogan, Charles Gounod, Aaron Copland, and Morten Lauridsen; as the First United Methodist Church Voices series presents The Lexington Singers performing the Masterworks Preview concert, later to be performed at the famed Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

This concert will help benefit the First United Methodist Church’s Backpack Program, which provides for students who spend their weekends enduring hunger and being deprived of meals. Please bring a donation in support of the program and enjoy the concert.

This Masterworks Preview concert is free and open to the public.