Opening Up / The sweet sound of music

The Knights are coming!

No, not those guys on horses with the visored helmets and the jousting sticks, but instead, the fabulous Knights Chamber Orchestra is coming from New York on June 18 to play for the Southport Summer Music Festival at Trinity Episcopal Church.

The Festival is called "Saturdays at Seven." Along with other musical selections, accompanied by the Trinity Chorale, Schola and the Senior Choristers, The Knights will play the glorious Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

You will not want to miss this! If you have never heard the Knights play, this will be Beethoven played with such sensitivity, virtuosity and enthusiasm you'll never again settle for less. Beethoven will leap off the page. The singers will be outstanding as well.

The festival actually begins on June 4, a bit more quietly, but with no less skill, offering selections by Saint-Saens and Brahms played by the extraordinarily gifted, Trinity Music Director, Alan Murchie on piano and Eric Jacobsen -- the conductor of the Knights Orchestra -- who can make you weep as he strokes the strings of his cello and the talented Romie De Guise-Langois on the clarinet.

The June 25 concert, the last in the series, is entitled: "Alan Murchie and Friends." And such amazing friends Alan has! Once again, Romie De-Guise-Langois on the clarinet, Eric Jacobsen on cello, Casey Breves, heart-stirring tenor/soprano, once a Trinity Schola singer, now a singer/soloist with the world-renowned male acappella group, Chanticleer (you can also hear Casey Breves sing on YouTube). Melanie Russell will be in the troupe, Melanie, whose warm soprano voice soars.

They will be performing the works of Mendelssohn, Faure, Shubert and Schumann.

I'm telling you all this because if you like music at all, you could not do better than to attend one or all of these concerts. I've heard all of these people perform and been completely transported by the quality of music they can create, both solo and together.

This concert series offers us the opportunity for a period of time to transcend ordinary life and all its troubles: A chance to forget terrible, destructive storms, murderous uprisings, countries that betray one another, where the president was born -- all of that. Music played and sung the way these artists perform can not help but "heal whatever ails you," as my grandmother would say.

I feel so strongly about these concerts that on their behalf I broke a serious precedent of many years standing. I offered to serve on the hospitality committee. No big deal, you think? Wrong! After way too many years of committees, chairing and otherwise, after I retired, I made a pact with myself: No more committees: My idea of a root canal (I do things at my church, but I pitch in; I do not organize).

Swallowing hard, I have made probably 20 phone calls, written umpteen lists, emails, and more to do still. I have been to 2 committee meetings (one of them involved a delicious lunch so not so bad).

But here's the thing: People I have called and asked to help have said, "Yes!"

Willing and enthusiastic parishioners as much devoted to this music as I, have agreed to prepare food, serve and clean up. Receptions will follow each of the concerts with lovely snack food and perhaps a glass of wine, allowing the audience to mix and mingle with the performers.

It is all coming together. I hope you will join us.

Cecily Stoddard Stranahan is a retired psychotherapist and an interfaith minister. She can be reached at: