"Friends of Music" Present Dynamic Programs - TribPapers

“Friends of Music” Present Dynamic Programs

Dewitt Tipton is the founder of Friends of Music. Photo courtesy of St. John in the Wilderness.

Flat Rock – The Friends of Music at St. John in the Wilderness Church are organizing an array of wonderful programs—all gratis—for the year. No reservations are needed; donations, of course, are gratefully accepted. On Sunday, November 13, Adrian Smith, accompanied by Dewitt Tipton on the piano, will be singing in the parish hall at 4:00 p.m. at 1905 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock. Smith, a native of Hickory, holds degrees from Lenoir-Rhyne University and Boston University and was a prize winner in competitions in Lincolnton, NC, Shreveport, LA, Birmingham, AL, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Hailed for his “big bronze voice,” Smith has been heard in numerous opera and concert roles. Appearances include roles in Rigoletto, Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, La Cenerentola, Carmen, L’elisir d’amore, The Magic Flute, La Fanciulla del West, and Capriccio. “Adrian is one of the most gifted young singers with whom I have had the privilege of making music.” “He has a commanding presence, a rich and full bass-baritone voice, a high degree of musicality and intelligence, and is quite natural and engaging in performance,” said Dewitt Tipton, organist and director of music for St. John in the Wilderness. The November program will include pieces from Handel, Wolf, Schumann, Mozart, Lemmel’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Malotte’s “The Twenty-Third Psalm and The Lord’s Prayer,” a song from Lerner & Loewe’s “Camelot” and an African-Americhantanty arranged by Celius Dougherty.  It should be a splendid program.

In 1991, Tipton became the founding conductor and music director of the highly regarded Asheville Symphony Chorus, a position he held for 21 years, conducting over 70 major choral works. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Furman University, Warren Wilson College, and the University of North Carolina. He was the founder of the Friends of Music.  Future concerts include flutist Kate Steinbeck on December 4. Steinbeck is the artistic director of Pan Harmonia, an Asheville-based organization committed to sharing chamber music with people of all ages and socioeconomic strata. In 1997, Steinbeck moved to Asheville and began raising a family. In 2000, she created Keowee Chamber Music with cellist Liz Austin and violist Andre Levin. KCM became Pan Harmonia in 2011. As a teacher, she loves guiding students of all ages to discover the joy of making music and to achieve new levels of accomplishment and self-awareness. Steinbeck has produced two critically acclaimed albums: “Light in the Corner” with percussionist Bryon Hedgepeth and “Luminescence” with guitarist Amy Brucksch, and has recorded on projects ranging from hip hop to ambient.

Throughout Western North Carolina, small groups of Pan Harmonia musicians, which can include wind instruments, strings, voice, guitar, harp, harpsichord, piano, and/or percussion, perform a wide range of repertoire, from iconic masterpieces to beautiful new works, for small and large audiences. The Pan Harmonia musicians play for all ages throughout the community—in art galleries, historic churches, prisons, homeless shelters, and on front porches. At a recent concert on October 30th, the Reel Sisters—Rosalind Buda, whistle and Scottish small pipes, and Kelly Brzozowski, Celtic and Welsh triple harp—were joined by Asheville Baroque Concert’s Gail Ann Schroeder, viola de gamba, letting Celtic music meet Baroque in a performance at the Haw Creek Commons.

On February 19th, 2023, the musical sounds of the Appalachian mountains will ring forth in the parish hall. The talented banjoist Laura Boosinger and guitarist Josh Goforth will present lively classic country music tunes. This fall, these Grammy-nominated musicians played at the Earl Scruggs Music Festival at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. Then on March 19th, the Lenten Choral Evensong with the clergy, parish choir, and organ will take place in the church.

On April 23, storyteller Becky Stone will entertain with African American history. Stone, born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., became a dynamic storyteller upon moving south; she has now lived in Fairview since 1983 with her husband, Pat. She brings history alive with her acting and storytelling in schools, libraries, and at festivals. She has presented characters such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Pauli Murray, and Josephine Baker at a number of Chautauqua festivals. Presenting a perspective of Parks in her later years, Stone related the moving story of the woman’s refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in the segregated South of the 1950s when Black people were restricted to seats in the back, and what followed. Stone focuses keenly on historical accuracy regarding those she portrays, spending about a year in research and preparation. Her presentations are always moving and powerful, bringing history to life for the audience.

On May 21, the Friends of Music have scheduled a benefit for the WNC Foundation Eric Weigel Scholarship Fund. The concert will feature his brother David Weigel performing baritone selections with Tipton accompanying on the piano. On June 18th, Lucy Owen Hoyt, soprano, and Deborah Hollis, pianist, will give a concert.

The public is invited to attend all these remarkable programs, gratis, with no reservations needed; contributions, of course, are gratefully accepted. Questions may be directed to the church office at (828) 693-9783 or visit www.stjohnflatrock.org. Parking is plentiful in the parking lot of St. John in the Wilderness at 1905 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock.