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VOL. 123 | NO. 208 | Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calvary & the Arts Begins Next Week

By Tom Wilemon

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COUNTRY-SOUL BELLE: Memphis-based singer/songwriter Amy LeVere is new to the lineup at Calvary & the Arts this year and performs Nov. 5. The concert series begins Oct. 29 with a performance by the Memphis Jazz Orchestra. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF CALVARY EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The playful beat of a jazz orchestra, the plaintive tone of a country song and the urgent notes of a gospel band will reverberate through the sanctuary during the 30th anniversary series of Calvary & the Arts.

The noon-hour concerts will happen Downtown on Wednesdays from Oct. 29 to Dec. 10 at Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second St.

“It’s a bit of a respite from the craziness in the middle of the day,” said Sumner Jenkins, the church’s organist and choirmaster.

The series will feature recording artists with international reputations. To get a good seat, get there early because there’s no reserve seating and no admission charge.

JAZZ SINGER: Tom Prestigiacomo will perform with the Memphis Jazz Orchestra when it begins the 30th Anniversary Calvary & the Arts series on Oct. 29. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF CALVARY EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Kallen Esperian, a world-renowned Verdi soprano, returns this year. She has performed for 12 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna, Opera de Paris, Buenos Aires and other opera houses. She has partnered with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo for performances.

“People love her,” Jenkins said. “People pack the house.”

Saxophone virtuoso Kirk Whalum will bring back his gospel-influenced band. He has recorded on the movie soundtracks to 1992’s “The Bodyguard,” “The Prince of Tides” (1991) and 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood.” His 1998 release “For You” had four Top 10 hits. He has been nominated multiple times for a Grammy award.

Calvary & the Arts 30th Anniversary
in memory of Dottie Jones

Where:    Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second St.
When:    12:05 p.m. The concerts are 45 minutes long.
Admission:    There is no admission charge. Lunch will be served following the Wednesday concerts. The cost of the lunch is $7.
Web site:    www.calvarymemphis.org

Oct. 29:    Memphis Jazz Orchestra
Nov. 5:    Amy LaVere
Nov. 6:    “The Snowman” by Howard Blake performed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
Nov. 12:    Kirk Whalum
Nov. 19:    Kallen Esperian
Dec. 3:    Memphis Boychoir and Chamber Choir
Dec. 10:    Christmas Pops performed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra

A new artist to the series is Amy LaVere, a young Memphis-based singer who has already established a following in England. The singer/songwriter released “Anchors and Anvils” last year. She made a cameo performance as Rockabilly artist Wanda Jackson in the 2005 movie “Walk the Line.”

“She is more folk country but kind of fusion,” Jenkins said.

The Memphis Jazz Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Memphis Boychoir and Chamber Choir are also in the lineup.

“We try to offer a variety,” Jenkins said. “There’s something for everybody. We don’t do all classical music. We don’t do all soul or all pop.”

A special performance of Howard Blake’s “The Snowman” has been scheduled for schoolchildren.

“For so many of these kids, this is the only exposure they will have to an orchestra,” Jenkins said.

The series is also popular with the young at heart. The XYZ group, which stands for extra young and zesty, from Germantown United Methodist Church, attends at least one of the performances. Members of the group are all 55 or older.

“We realize that as people get older they tend not to go Downtown as much and can get confused on where to park or what streets might be under construction,” said Luci Cromer, who organizes the trip. “We try to make it a whole day. We work it around a theme. Last year, we went to see Kirk Whalum and then toured Gibson Guitar (Factory) and came back.”

This year, the group wanted to do something more in tune with the holidays.

“Sumner said they were having the Memphis Boychoir, which they have not had in a long time,” Cromer said. “Our group has not heard them. This year, we are going to hear the Memphis Boychoir and Chamber Choir and on the way back we’re stopping to see the (Enchanted Forest) Festival of Trees at the Pink Palace. We’re putting together a little package.”

The 45-minute concerts are followed by $7 lunches at the church. The one exception is the only Thursday performance scheduled for Nov. 6, the concert for schoolchildren. This performance of “The Snowman” also is open to the public, but there will be limited seating.

Calvary & the Arts is sponsored by The Daily News Publishing Co., The Tudor Group of Greenwich, Conn., and Calvary Episcopal Church. The concert series is in memory of Dottie Jones.

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