Father Matthew Kuhn and Erin Takle, music coordinator from St. Mary Parish in Alexandria, will be among the performers at Carnegie Hall Feb. 19 with ValLimar Jansen and John Angotti in “Voices in the Hall.” (See box.)
“ValLimar Jansen led our Lenten parish retreat last March,” Takle said. “In her presentation, she told and acted stories from the Bible that involved women and tied songs into it. The first night was so moving I was in tears.”
Takle was one of St. Mary’s musicians who sang harmony and backup with Jansen. In the call and response songs during the mission, she led the responses. She also chauffeured Jansen to her hotel and airport, and the two shared dinners.
Father Kuhn said, “After ValLimar gave Erin a solo at our retreat — which was beautiful — she extended the invitation to the Carnegie Hall event. Typically, they only invite choirs, but at the time we didn’t have a choir to showcase. She really wanted the two of us to be there.”
Jansen mentioned the concert between the Sunday morning Masses, Takle recalled. “ValLimar said she’d like to invite Father Matthew and me to join her at Carnegie Hall. I thought it was just a casual remark, but when I brought her to the airport, she added, ‘You have the technique and the vocals. Now you need confidence. I’ll be in touch about the Carnegie concert soon.’”
Jansen followed through, sending audio files and written scores as well as schedule information for four days of rehearsal prior to the performance and tours of New York in their downtime.
According to the Carnegie website, the Voices In The Hall concert is “The Story of God: A Journey of Faith, Hope and Unity,” led by Catholic liturgical artists Angotti and Jansen, along with the Corporate Travel Voices In The Hall choir of more than 225 vocalists from across the United States. The concert expresses a message of love, forgiveness and acceptance.
Father Kuhn said the music they’ve received includes praise and worship songs, multicultural church music and folk songs adapted for liturgical use.
“The show’s opener is an African folk tune that means welcome,” he said. “One piece is a contemporary setting of Psalm 23, another is a spiritual by the African American composer Moses Hogan. A few are songs she did at our mission. It’s all fun, faith-filled music, joyful and in a lighter tone.”
“We’ve received about 17 songs and they’re all amazing — it’s a nice mix,” Takle said. “My favorite is a beast to learn but it’s beautiful. And we both have solo opportunities.”
Born and raised in Alexandria, Takle graduated with a degree in vocal performance from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. She’s been a part of St. Mary’s her whole life, singing for St. Mary’s School Mass as well as weddings and funerals. She teaches voice lessons and performs with the Three of Us, a violinist, guitarist and vocals trio, at a variety of community functions.
Father Kuhn studied music education as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
“I’m happy to bring attention to a staff member who has world-class talent hiding in a small-town parish,” Father Kuhn said. “She’s been our music coordinator for nine years. In December she performed as Sister Sophia in the community’s ‘Sound of Music.’ This concert raises the profile of our music program. Our students will now see her on the world stage.”
Takle said, “It’s such an honor to be considered for this concert. I’m grateful to St. Mary’s for helping me become the person I’ve always known I could be. And I’m grateful to ValLimar for this opportunity. To go to Carnegie Hall and join with the choirs — it’s spectacular!”
‘Voices in the Hall’
- What: The Story of God: A Journey of Faith, Hope and Unity concert
- When: 7:30 p.m., EST, Sunday, Feb. 19
- Where: Carnegie Hall, New York City
- For more information: https://bit.ly/3CgyUxy
(Carnegie Hall image courtesy of Wikimedia)