by Michael Caruso
The Rev. Cynthia Jarvis, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, has announced the departure of Mark Anderson as the congregation’s music director as of Aug. 7 and the arrival of Donald Nally, East Falls resident and music director of The Crossing, as Anderson’s interim replacement until a permanent music director is named.
In a letter to members of the congregation, Rev. Jarvis wrote, “This is a letter about God closing a door and opening a window. First, the door that is closing: Mark Anderson has accepted a call to become the director of music ministry at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. His last Sunday will be Aug. 7 when we will celebrate his incredible ministry with us over the last 15 years and present him with a gift of tangible gratitude from the congregation.
“Words cannot begin to capture what Mark has meant to this church. From the selection and design of the Mander pipe organ to the renewal of the adult choir to the reputation for musical excellence that the church has gained under his leadership, we have forever set our sights on a quality of worship and music that we never could have known without him.
“His friendship with the musicians and artists, in the city and beyond, has helped us become known as a patron of the arts in Philadelphia. The multitude of people, unrelated to the church, who fill our sanctuary to hear the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, The Crossing, Piffaro, Lyricfest and Tempesta di Mare as well as attend our annual Festival of Music and the Arts, have made us a destination for lovers of choral music.” Anderson has also been the music director of the Pennsylvania Girlchoir since its founding.
The “window opening” is the appointment of Donald Nally as interim director of music. Nally has been music director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, choral director at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in center city, choral director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, choral director of the Welsh National Opera and choral director at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Anderson described Jarvis as “the greatest gift in my career. She is a musician’s dream as a pastor.” His final performance as organist at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church comes 15 years to the day of his appointment. Rev. Jarvis was also appointed to her post that same year.
“When I came here 15 years ago,” Anderson said, “there wasn’t much going on. Our hope, mine and Cindy’s, was to open up the church to the greater community beyond the immediate community of Chestnut Hill into the entire community of the city of Philadelphia.”
Anderson recalled the installation of the church’s new English-designed and built Mander pipe organ as the catalyst for the renovation of the church’s sanctuary. “It charted a new course for the congregation, one of expanding our understanding of what it means to play a relevant part in the life of the greater community. We’re a city church, and we’re involved in the life of the city. We need to be active beyond Sunday morning.”
Anderson pointed to the numerous musical ensembles that have made the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill their home venue, but the Pennsylvania Girlchoir is the one dearest to his heart. “The girls and their families have been a tremendous gift to me, and Cindy (Rev. Jarvis), and the entire congregation have gone out of their way to welcome the girls and their families into the church.”
Even though Chestnut Hillers were sweltering under yet another heat wave last week, Joanna Pascale’s concert on Wednesday, July 20, brought to Pastorius Park a sizable, enthusiastic audience that rewarded her patented style of sophisticated jazz with countless rounds of energetic applause.
Pascale sang the first song, “The Best is Yet to Come,” slowly, allowing the short phrases to build one upon the next, employing her dark, smoky voice to project the lyrics and uncover their meaning.
She followed with Duke Ellington’s “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me,” performing almost a vocal/instrumental duet with Juilliard-trained keyboardist Josh Richman. My favorite was Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners and Dance With Me.” Pascale caught the poignancy Michael Feinstein brings to the number as well as the sultry sensuality the late Peggy Lee brought to virtually everything she sang.