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    Mt. Olive Lutheran to Host Reformation Hymn Festival on October 25

    Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Hickory will host a community Reformation music event, “A Mighty Fortress: A Reformation Hymn Festival” on Sunday, October 25 at 4 p.m. in the church sanctuary at 2780 North Center Street in the Viewmont neighborhood. Music will include congregational and choir singing, as well as brass, organ, and handbell instrumentals.

    Local Lutheran church choirs are invited to join the massed choir for the festival. Rehearsals will be held at Mt. Olive from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays, Oct. 11 and 18. A rehearsal with brass will be held before the event on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 2:00 p.m. To obtain a list of choral music needed for the event, contact the office of Mt. Olive at 828-324-6198.

    A hymn festival is a cross between a worship service and a concert. Hymns are presented in elaborate arrangements, usually with choral leadership, and organ and/or orchestral instrument music also usually plays a large role. But the “audience” is expected to sing along, becoming a sort of congregation. Reflective readings between the songs help to tie everything together.

    The focus of this festival is to celebrate the strong Lutheran music tradition of the Reformation-era German Lutheran chorale (hymn). Musicians contracted for this event include the Unifour Brass Ensemble, Andris Rozukalns, organist and Charles Smith, percussionist. The Chancel Choir of Mt. Olive will serve as the foundation for the massed choir and the Mt. Olive Ringers will play handbells. Music will include congregational and choir singing, as well as brass, organ, and handbell instrumentals. Pastor Dave Keck of Mt. Olive will offer brief reflections throughout the program.

    The Unifour Brass Ensemble is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the public, and especially youth, with a basic appreciation for music through the wonderful sound of brass instruments. The group was organized in 1978 as a brass quartet and continues today as a quintet. Members provide music for area orchestras, big bands, church services, dedications, weddings and receptions, theater productions, area club functions, and civic functions. The ensemble’s repertoire ranges from the medieval to modern eras. For more information about the Unifour Brass, contact Tim Phillips at iplatrpt@gmail.com.

    Charles Smith has been a member of the Western Piedmont Symphony since 1999, serving as both principal timpanist as well as a featured soloist. He also performs with the Hickory Choral Society, Symphony of the Mountains, Asheville Choral Society, and Asheville Symphony Orchestra. Outside of the orchestral realm, he is a founding member of the Just Friends Jazz Trio. He also enjoys performing on steel pan, both in solo and group settings. Charles is a graduate of Appalachian State University with BA and MM degrees in music performance. He teaches courses in music appreciation at the collegiate level and has been a private instructor of percussion for 25 years.

    Andris Rozukalns currently serves as Organist and Choir Director at Mt. Olive Lutheran and as a collaborative artist at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville where he accompanies the school’s vocal ensembles. He is a first generation Latvian American and has performed solo and collaborative piano and organ in major cities in the U.S., Canada, France and Latvia. His under-graduate studies were in piano and organ performance at Drake University. He holds degrees in Organ Performance from the University of Kansas, an Artist Diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and did doctoral studies at Arizona State University. Additionally, he studied the German and French Romantic repertoire with Louis Robilliard in Lyon, France.

    Mt. Olive Lutheran Church is hosting this event as part of the lead-up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 2017. For further information about the hymn festival, contact the church at 828-324-6198 or email lynnebreed@gmail.com.

    Poster for Reformation Hymn Festival