first congregational church

Samantha Celera, via flickr. All creative commons.

Inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2015 sonnet "Love Is Love," director Chris Ludwa has created a third program for the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus of eclectic choral works with themes of love, including romantic love, family love, spiritual love, love of nature, and self-healing love.  The newly-named winner of the Bach Festival's Young Vocalist High School Competition, Lillie Forteau, will sing two solos during the concert, which also will feature the student choir of Kalamazoo College, and the Chancel Choir of First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo, led by Michael Palmer. The concert begins at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 4 at First Congretational Church of Kalamazoo.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Ludwa quotes a Stevie Wonder lyric, "We have a choice to make / to either walk the path of love / or be crippled by our hate." From a program that draws on classical, pop, folk, and world music, they listen to "Et une seule fleur" by Morten Lauridsen, "Please Stay," by Jake Runestad, "Papa Loko," a traditional Haitian song, and Emeli Sande's "Shine." 

Schola Antiqua

The "richly intertextual, cross-pollinating "Middle Ages" of Jerusalem" is the inspiration for a concert by Schola Antiqua of Chicago at 4 pm on Sunday, Nov 17 at First Congregational Church, presented by the Connecting Chords Music Festival.  Cara Lieurance talked to managing director Matthew Dean about the upcoming concert and the traditions from which it draws.


Edition Peters

Graeme Shields, co-founder of the Vital Organ Project, will offer a free public performance of Organ²/ASLAP (As Slow As Possible) at First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo on Saturday, Jul 27, beginning at 1 pm. (The public is free to come and go at will during the performance.) Shields has trained himself to stretch out the four-page piece into an 8-hour performance, which, he tells Cara Lieurance, isn't the longest performance that has been attempted. There is an on-going performance in Halberstadt, Germany at St. Burchardi Church that began in 2001, and is expected to last 639 years.

Shields talks about John Cage's groundbreaking, visionary works which changed our perception of music, and about how he has learned to hold the sonorities of As Slow As Possible for durations of 15 and 20 minutes before changing to the following notes. When changes happen that far apart, they become extremely potent. He suggests that people drop in as they can, and listen for at least one sonority change to see what it's like.


Kevin Byrne

Séan Tyrrell, who lives on the west coast of Ireland, discovered the writings of John Boyle O'Reilly in New York City four decades ago, where he visited a bookstore and picked up 1000 Years of Irish Poetry. Although written a century earlier, O'Reilly's palpable disgust of avarice and earnest advocacy for the powerless made an impact. Tyrrell now calls him "one of the greatest Irishmen who ever lived." The details of O'Reilly's life and the profundity of his vision add up to an evening of storytelling, song, and poetry that includes a daring prison escape, adventures at sea, an American success story, and a tragic early death. Séan Tyrrell performs A Message of Peace: The Life of John Boyle O'Reilly in concert on Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 pm at the First Congregational Church Chapel. Cash admission will be taken at the door; more details here.


Oldest Church Bell In Kalamazoo To Be Restored

Apr 13, 2017
Kalamazoo's oldest church bell sits in the lobby of First Congregational Church, waiting to be restored.
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

This is the oldest church bell in Kalamazoo. It was made in 1836 and brought here by ox cart - just a few years after the village that would become Kalamazoo was founded.