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Choirs from California congregations come together for 3rd annual Interfaith Choral Concert

By Brittany Skousen Larsen

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 19 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

The choir directors of participating churches. Left to right: Sr. Anne Marie McKenna, BVM, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Burlingame; Joyce Zagrzebski, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Burlingame; David Perry, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, San Bruno; Nathaniel Berman, The Episcopal Church of St. Matthew, San Mateo; Dr. Susan Jane Matthews, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame.

Jennifer Jacobson

BURLINGAME, Calif. — Choirs from four different churches, including one from the Sanf Franscico California Stake, came together Sunday, Oct. 16, for the third annual Interfaith Choral Concert, held at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Burlingame.

In addition to bringing congregations together for a night of inspirational music, donations were also accepted for Home and Hope, a community organization that assists homeless families in the community.

The choirs came from St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church of Burlingame, the Episcopal Church of St. Matthews of San Mateo, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Burlingame and the San Franscico California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.

"In our world today, there is so much focus on what divides people — religion, politics, class, race, etc. Events like this Interfaith Choral Concert give us an opportunity to come together and celebrate what unites us — music, service, faith and joy,” said Anne Marie McKenna, director of music and liturgy at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church.

The concert featured a variety of musical styles and eras, including a cappella, piano, organ and instrumental accompaniment. Each choir performed two or three numbers and gathered together to sing the finale anthem, "He is Exalted," composed by Twila Paris and Lloyd Larson.

“Our long-term goals are to provide the community with an uplifting event of sacred music from various faiths and also build friendships with each other at the same time,” said Debbie Grewal, concert coordinator and public affairs director the LDS stake. “For most people attending, it is the first time they have experienced music of a different faith. This is an opportunity to develop understanding and goodwill between our faiths by celebrating our commonality of worship through music.”

"You get beautiful music, sung by talented people, in a lovely setting," said Rajeev Rambob, executive director of Home and Hope. "But when you go a bit deeper you’ll notice that the groups and individuals involved come from a vast cross-section of the community.

"If it weren’t for this event and participation with Home and Hope, many may not ever have occasion to be in the same room at the same time. But the draw of coming together around a meaningful, common cause is a bit of a miracle. When the final number is sung … all voices as one … the impact is beyond the sum of harmonious sound, you not only hear, but feel the spirit in a deep and powerful way,” said Rajeev Rambob, executive director of Home and Hope.

All of the churches that participated in the concert are involved with the Home and Hope program.

Information about the concert is available at www.facebook.com/interfaithchoralconcert and for more about Home and Hope, visit www.homeandhope.net.

Brittany Skousen Larsen is a public affairs media assistant in the San Francisco California Stake.

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