Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove Choir Festival 2018’


Video by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff.  Re-post from July, 2018.

JOHN RUTTER.  MAGNIFICAT: ESURIENTES.   With Patricia Forbes and the Cambridge Singers. Close your eyes and listen

Read Full Post »

Jeff Evans (L) of Texas and Pastor Rick Smith (r) of Pennsylvania. Paul Goldfinger photo © 7/7/18


By  Paul Goldfinger MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net

The 64th Annual Choir Festival takes place at 7pm on Sunday, July 8.  It is a “worship experience” which has “hymn singing” as the “heart off the service.”  But the sound of it all is so marvelous and unique that many attend and view it primarily as a musical experience.

There will be an “800 voiced mass chorus” with a brass ensemble, the Hope-Jones organ played by Gordon Turk,  and “renowned” conductors.    Most of the singers come from the tri-state area, but the “core” of this chorus is the Auditorium Choir, about 200 members,  which provides the foundation of the assembled singers, and all of this is conducted by Maestro Jason Tramm.  Also, other states are represented.

At the Festival, there will be a list of all the churches that have sent their choir members, but there will be many singers who come as individuals.  We met two of them today. We sat on benches outside the Tabernacle, after Gordon Turk had completed another of his fine noontime organ concerts.

Jeff Evans is from Frisco, Texas, a city near Dallas. He came to Ocean Grove with his friend Rick Smith who is a pastor from Pennsylvania.  They have been friends since their college days at Lebanon Valley College where they studied music many years ago.

The two baritones have been participating in the Festival for the better part of 30 years.  They both consider the Ocean Grove Choir Festival to be such a unique experience for them, personally, emotionally, and musically, that they keep coming back.   As individuals, they receive the music and learn it on their own or they might attend a “regional” rehearsal.  Then they come together with the others to rehearse in Ocean Grove a few times.  It is amazing how this program is put together so fast, achieving high quality performances.

Jeff, a retired IRS employee, was first invited to hear the Festival in 1984, and he was “blown away.”  He and Rick love the music and worship components, but for them the event has also had a “social” aspect, building relationships over time.  Jeff told us that he has been at Festivals here where they had up to 1,700 voices, but this year, the number will be 800—still a powerful number capable of filling that room with glorious sound.  For the two of them, “there is nothing like it.”

We talked about the program which they say includes a variety of music, but I was looking for what they call the “highbrow” element which means Bach, Mendelssohn, Haydn and other big stars of the church music repertoire. It seems that there are none of those on the program this year.  Nevertheless, for those familiar with church hymns, this Festival will be a thrill.

Jeff and Rick will spend their free time in the Grove walking around town, finding places to eat, and meeting friends—all in between those important rehearsals.

If you can’t make the concert, the public can attend the rehearsal at 2 pm on Sunday.  It can be fascinating and fun to hear the conductors pull together all the moving parts in a brief amount of time.


Read Full Post »