Monday, August 19, 2013

Free Slavic Music Concert at St. John's

Photo by Joe Zlomek

St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church.
"Diversity" in Pottstown means more than racial and economic diversity, it means cultural diversity as well.

Among the many ethnic groups who settled
Pottstown and helped to build it when the factories brought work were people from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, mainly from the sub-Carpathian region which is now Slovakia and Ukraine.

It was from among these people that the founders of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church. 

And next Friday, thanks to Pottstown resident and Hill School graduate Andrew Skitko, we have an opportunity to experience a piece of that culture for free.

Below is the text of a release telling you all about it:

A concert of sacred hymns and liturgical music of the Slavic tradition will be presented by the Theoria
Chamber Choir at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, 301 Cherry St. in Pottstown.

The concert is free and open to the public; a free will offering will be accepted. Please note that the church is air-conditioned and handicapped accessible via the ramp in the rear parking lot.

The Theoria Chamber Choir features students and alumni of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J. 

Westminster is a four-year music college and graduate school that prepares men and women for careers as professional performers and as music leaders in schools, universities, churches, and professional and community music organizations. 

 Westminster choirs perform annually in venues including the Kimmel Center, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, and various groups are professionally recorded as they perform well-known composers’ new and other arrangements.

Theoria Chamber Choir is directed by Andrew Skitko, a native of Pottstown, and graduate of The Hill School. 
Photo from St. John's web site

The interior of St. John's church from the choir loft.

"Our choir is very excited to be returning to Pottstown, and we hope that with your support we can share our unique Slavic choral music, and bring the local community together for this performance," Skitko wrote in an e-mail to The Mercury.
Skitko also serves as the cantor and music director at The Assumption of The Virgin Mary Byzantine Catholic Church of Trenton, N.J., where Theoria Chamber Choir performs about once a month. Skitko also has been a cantor at St. John’s church.

In April 2012, the Westminster Slavic Choir, also under Skitko’s direction, performed at St. John’s church to a crowd that included many people who had never before heard the traditional Slavic music and asked Skitko to return to perform another concert. 

Due to keen interest, Skitko was eager to return to Pottstown with the Theoria Chamber Choir, a four-part group of powerful, professionally trained voices.

“Performing in Pottstown allows us to share this beautiful music with my hometown and support Pottstown’s growing, diverse arts presence,” said Skitko.

Joining Skitko, a baritone, will be Liesl McPherrin, soprano, Lauren Delfing, alto, and Brett Avery-Lawyer, tenor.

The concert will feature sacred liturgical choral works by composers including Bortniansky, Tchaikovsky, Vedel, and Hurko. Selections will be performed in English as well as Old Church Slavonic.

The concert is expected to last about one hour.

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