By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
This month’s Tuesday Noon Recital Series at First Lutheran Church features performances by a jazz band, a handbell choir, a St. Vincent College student and the founder of the series itself.
“We’re somewhat amazed and certainly grateful to come up with such good lineups,” said George Fattman, chairman of the Tuesday Noon Recital Task Force. “The April group has a couple dozen talented young people, plus a well-regarded veteran, Kim Rauch.”
The series commences April 4 with a performance by Greater Johnstown High School’s jazz band. The band is to perform selections from its upcoming concert, “A Night at the Movies!” This show is under the direction of Eric Pfeil.
“We had the jazz band a couple years ago, and people loved the enthusiasm of the young musicians,” Fattman said. “Their current director, Eric Pfeil, scheduled this a year ago.
“They rarely play in a venue outside the school district, so they regard this as something special. I don’t know who likes the program more, them or us.”
On April 11, another group of high school students will have the unique opportunity to perform inside the church. Johnstown Christian School’s Handbell Choir, under the direction of Kristen Lloyd, is to present a recital alongside the school’s high school choir. A vocal quartet and flutist also are also to share their talents.
“We’ve been hoping for some time to bring in youngsters from the Johnstown Christian School,” Fattman said.
“We’ve had several recommendations to bring the bell choir. Now we are getting the bell choir plus a vocal quartet plus a flutist. Their director, Kristen Lloyd, is such a devoted teacher and musician.”
And Rauch is set to entertain audiences April 18, when he plays the church’s 3,000-pipe Skinner organ.
“Kim knows the instrument well because he used to be the minister of music at First Lutheran,” Fattman said.
Rauch is also the founder of the Tuesday Noon Recital Series, and serves as program director at The Grand Halle, a church-turned-performance-venue in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. Previously, Rauch taught music at Richland School District and University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Rauch is also responsible for founding the children’s chorus of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (Inclined to Sing) and has served as organist and choir director at numerous churches within the area.
“I don’t know what Kim is playing, but he’s playing something exuberant and joyous, fitting for the week after Easter,” Fattman said. “Kim is so enthusiastic. This program will reflect that.”
Music composed by Handel and Andrew Lloyd Weber, among others, is to be performed by St. Vincent College senior Kayla Uveges on April 24.
Uveges, a biology major who is minoring in sacred music, is a member of St. Vincent College’s Camerata and Camerata Scholars choirs. She’s to be accompanied that afternoon by Harriett Miller, a longtime piano teacher and performer.
“People love Kayla and have been following her success as a singer since she was a little girl in our congregation,” Fattman said, “and everybody wants Harriett Miller as an accompanist. There will be plenty of nostalgia — but a lot of talent.”
First Lutheran Church’s Tuesday Noon Recital Series, which has been taking place for more than 25 years, is designed to give people a laid-back opportunity to enjoy music during the lunch hour.
“These programs are such a nice break in the middle of the day, and culturally important to downtown Johnstown,” Fattman said. “The programs are excellent, but they’re also short. People can grab a light lunch in just a few more minutes, or they can remain and talk with the artists and others who attend.”
A free luncheon follows each performance. The luncheons are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.
“Good as the music is, it really helps to have lunch, which also is good,” Fattman said. “People ask for recipes or take-out.”
First Lutheran Church is located at 415 Vine St. in downtown Johnstown. For more information about the series, visit www.firstlutheran.info/recitals.htm online.
The Tuesday Noon Recital Series, which takes place in April, July and October, is underwritten by the Carolyn Walker Music Fund, contributions made by those who attend and by the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts through a grant administered by Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance. Other support comes from individual contributions.
Fattman works in conjunction with other members of the congregation, as well as consultants Rosemary Pawlowski, Jean Reavel and the Rev. Dr. Wilbert Boerstler, to bring the series to fruition every year. Greer Koeller serves as chair of the kitchen crew and is a member of the task force.
Together, they host a dozen recitals per year and serve around 1,300 lunches — all on a $4,000 budget.
“This takes organization and the input of about 30 volunteers,” Fattman said, “but people respond to success. They like to perform, they like to attend and they like to help.
“I remember the comment of a popular local artist, who said after his program, ‘Everybody should be doing this!’”