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12/3/2013 10:46:00 AM
Annual holiday concert series continues Sunday at St. John's Episcopal Lutheran Church

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

Williams residents can celebrate the days leading up to Christmas with St. John's Episcopal Lutheran Church's Advent Classical Music Series.

This is the seventh year the church has offered the concert series. The free concerts take place at 4 p.m. on Sundays at the church, 202 W. Grant Ave.

St. John's Reverend Ann Johnson said the concerts celebrate Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas.

"We really focus on the waiting time as we wait for Jesus to be born," Johnson said. "We try to make it a more mellow meditative time as we wait and do a lot of the readings talking about Jesus coming again and the waiting of that."

The concert series kicked off Dec. 1 with a concert titled "Traditional Lessons in Carols," performed by lectors and choristers of St. John's Church.

"It is an old like 500-year-old service that is a collection of scripture readings that talk about the birth of Jesus," Johnson said. "And after every reading there's a musical something, either a performance by somebody or a chance to sing a Christmas carol."

The next concert takes place Dec. 8 with "An Afternoon of Chamber Music," performed by Northern Arizona University (NAU) string students under the direction of Dr. Mary Ann Ramos.

Johnson described this concert as "a series of chamber music trios."

"There'll be a violin, a cello and a piano for most of them," Johnson said. "(They) are NAU students who are getting ready to do their senior recitals."

On Dec. 15, Roger Brace, Julie Sullivan Brace and Reno and Sheila McCormick will present "A Bluegrass Christmas."

"So it's going to be gospel songs and just a different kind of music but really high quality music," Johnson said.

The final concert takes place Dec. 22. "The Music of Susan Squared" features pianists Susan Kerley and Susan Hendricks and Flagstaff Symphony's first chair cellist Andrew Hamby. Kerley and Hamby are both Williams residents.

"They're looking forward so much to performing," Johnson said. "It's going to be really fun."

A reception follows each concert to give attendees the opportunity to meet the musicians. The concerts are free but donations are accepted.

Johnson said she started the concert series for two reasons.

"One is sort of a gift to this community of Williams, just an opportunity for people to come together, because it's a free concert and we just want people to come," she said. "And the other thing was to bring classical music to Williams, because a lot of people don't take time to drive all the way over (to Flagstaff) to hear the symphony. So it's sort of like we'll bring the symphony to Williams."

Since Johnson is on the Flagstaff Symphony board, it isn't hard for her to organize the concert series.

"I just call my friends and say, 'Would you like to play?' and people are so gracious. Everybody says 'yes' if their schedule will allow it," she said. "It's really been a lovely thing. I try to put together a varied program so that it's not all voices or not all pianos or whatever."

Johnson said people should attend the concert series because it is "another opportunity to celebrate the season in a beautiful musical way."

More information about the concert series is available at (928) 635-2781.

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