Parish concert series strikes a chord in Summerville

St. John the Beloved Church, Summerville, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, American Boychoir, monthly concert series

St. John the Beloved Church, Summerville, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, American Boychoir, monthly concert seriesSUMMERVILLE—St. John the Beloved Church’s music ministry is sounding a high note for ecumenism with its monthly concert series.

In January, the church hosted the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the American Boychoir, both of which drew a large interdenominational audience.

Greg Homza, church music director, said he came up with the idea a couple of years ago as a way to provide Summerville residents with quality music on a regular basis.

“Music is a wonderful thing. It’s a gift from God certainly, and to be able to share that with a broader community is a privilege,” Homza said.

In the beginning, he said, the concerts were a bit sporadic as he developed a feel for what people are interested in hearing.

This year marks the first time they will have a steady flow of events at the church, including the CSO in March, Schubert’s String Quintet in April, and “Dialogues” between the flute and organ in May.

“People are generally thrilled,” Homza said. “It’s wonderful to look out and see that this music is universal.”

He said concert attendance has increased steadily and attracts people of all ages and cultures.

When the American Boychoir sang on Jan. 24, they drew over 300 music lovers, Homza said, compared to about 100 during the choir’s first appearance in 2008.

He was drawn to St. John because the church had a strong musical reputation — and a pipe organ. Homza graduated from Indiana University, where he studied the cello and the organ because he wanted to combine his love for music with his love for his faith.

He said he hit it off right away with Msgr. E. Christopher Lathem, pastor, who has been supportive of the concert series.

Homza also met his future wife Leah through the church choir. They were married in 2008.

He said music can make people feel warm and welcome, and by opening the church doors to the community through concerts, they are also opening the doors to Catholicism.

Patrick Withers, director of youth ministry, said it also allows parishioners to be more involved in music, even if they don’t play an instrument or sing.

When the American Boychoir performed, the youth groups hosted lunch for them in Madden Hall. Withers said they set up, served the meal and cleaned. The high school students also acted as greeters and ushers at the concert.

“Part of our ministry is to do service outreach,” he said. “And after the meal, the youth were able to attend the concert and enjoy some really powerful music.”

Homza, who is a substitute cellist with the CSO, said it helps to have musical connections.  

All concerts are held on Sundays at 4 p.m. Next on the schedule: March 7, The Charleston Symphony Orchestra; April 25, Schubert’s String Quintet; May 23, Dialogues: A program of music for flute and organ.