Volunteer singers’ enthusiasm marks Friday Morning Music Club’s anniversary

September 25, 2011

The performance of music at the highest level is made possible by music devotees who are not professionals: the volunteer church choir singers and other amateurs who learn and perform music just because they love it. The oldest group of such lovers of music in Washington, the Friday Morning Music Club, will mark its 125th anniversary next month. The club celebrated Saturday afternoon with a concert in its new home, Calvary Baptist Church in Chinatown, itself celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Formed by women who enjoyed performing music in one another’s homes, the FMMC now sponsors major competitions and events, among other projects, to support young people finding their way into music careers. The Festival of Hope, a musical memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, brought together volunteer musicians from FMMC and Calvary along with an honors choir of 25 high school singers. In sound, it was an endeavor distinguished more by the participants’ sincerity and enthusiasm than by musical refinement.

There were pretty moments, such as the Robert Shafer arrangement of a Sanctus by Jacobus Clemens, sung by the combined choirs from the balcony that forms a U shape around the sanctuary, but there were also some cringe-worthy selections of sacred pop music. Still, it was hard not to admire the dedication of the performers, who had gathered for the first time only the night before and had rehearsed all day leading up to the concert. The FMMC Chamber Orchestra joined the groups for some excerpts from Mendelssohn’s evergreen oratorio “Elijah,” dubbed “Messages of Hope and Comfort.” The most promising solo came from Dwight Pinkney, a young tenor who played Obadiah.

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