Arts & Culture

Duo organists and a choral evensong at Christ Episcopal

The choir of Christ Episcopal will sing a Lenten Evensong on Sunday.
The choir of Christ Episcopal will sing a Lenten Evensong on Sunday. Courtesy

Christ Episcopal Church is immersed in more music than usual this weekend: a Friday (March 17) lunchtime recital by duo organists, and a Sunday evensong that gives listeners the chance to add their voices to the rich tapestry of the choir.

If you’ve never heard an organ played by two people at once, you’re probably not alone. The duo organ repertoire is small but intriguing, and Friday’s lunchtime concert (part of the church’s Third Friday at Noon series) features Portland-based husband-and-wife team Timothy and Nancy LeRoi Nickel exploring some imaginative pieces. Works (on piano and organ) range from early English keyboard duets to the 20th-century French irony of Erik Satie and a suite by Timothy Nickel based on African-American spirituals.

The couple have performed together for years, with duo concerts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Purcell Room, and churches and festivals around the world. They have five CDs to their credit.

On Sunday, a Lenten Evensong offers the chance to dive into the spiritual calm and musical solemnity of Lent. The period in Christian church life leading up to Easter, Lent is traditionally a time of self study and quiet, and combines with the 400-year-old tradition of the evensong liturgy, one of the Church of England’s contributions to Western civilization, says organist Mark Brombaugh. It combines prayers, biblical passages like the Magnificat (Song of Mary), psalms and music at the close of the evening.

“The texts of this liturgy have inspired music from countless fine composers through the ages,” says Brombaugh.

The choir will sing Charles Wood’s “Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittis,” a setting of Psalm 27 by choir director Kathryn Nichols and “Prayers” by Richard Ayleward, while Brombaugh plays works by J.S. Bach and Gerald Near. Hymns and antiphons are sung by all in the resonant acoustic of the church.

“During the season of Lent, we focus on the mystery of God’s love for humanity … that we might be empowered to serve in the transformation of our world,” says Nichols, of the service. “Loving our neighbors, striving for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of each person.”

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti

Christ Episcopal concerts

What: Third Friday duo recital with Timothy and Nancy LeRoi Nickel.

When: 12:10 p.m. Friday.

What: Lenten Choral Evensong.

When: 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Christ Episcopal Church, 310 N. K St., Tacoma.

Admission: Voluntary offering.

Information: 253- 383-1569, ccptacoma.org.

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