Arts & Faith St. Louis, a collaboration of St. Louis arts and faith leaders, marks its 10th anniversary with its annual interfaith concert, a broadcast and streaming event premiering Sunday, Sept. 12, that includes a performance by the North City Deanery Choir. The concert uses music to encourage respect and understanding and to bridge divides.
In September 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, leaders of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries, and Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis organized an interfaith concert to promote a more harmonious community. The concert became an annual event with themes promoting peace, racial equity and inclusion, encouragement to young people, welcoming the stranger, hope, and compassion.
Javier Orozco, executive director of human dignity and intercultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said the concert emerged out of the desire to remember 9/11 but also “to find a way to remind ourselves of the common spirit and goodness in difficult times and to hold on to the gift of support and mutual relationships.”
For Arts & Faith to continue to bring communities together to build bridges of friendship and community is “a real gift,” he said. From the inception, the intention was to ensure different ethnic, religious and spiritual communities enrich each other through their gifts and faith, Orozco added. The archdiocese has been involved since the beginning through the Interfaith Partnership.
In the 2021 concert broadcast recording, operatic star Christine Brewer, accompanied by pianist Alla Voskoboynikova, will perform a song of hope, “Amazing Grace,” by African American composer H. Leslie Adams. The Interfaith Youth Chorus, comprised of gifted young singers from 15 high schools in the St. Louis area, will perform “Begin,” by Matt Carlson, under the direction of Maria A. Ellis. In addition, the lineup features encore performances from the past decade by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist faith community choirs and ensembles.
A Catholic group represented is the North City Deanery Choir, a performance from 2019: “There is Goodness” by Danny DuMaine, co-director of the choir with Simeon Layne. DuMaine called the opportunity to perform at the interfaith concert an amazing experience, “just being able to be a part of so many different ways to come together as one.”
The idea of a concert bringing faiths together, DuMaine said, was a way of “using the power of music to celebrate love, peace and joy.”
In recent years, Arts & Faith St. Louis has expanded with docent-led tours of the St. Louis Art Museum and other visual art projects and storytelling, spoken word and poetry. For information, visit www.artsfaithstlouis.org.
>> Interfaith concert
WHAT: Arts & Faith St. Louis commemorates its 10th year with its Annual 9/11 Interfaith Concert, “Celebrating Our Future — Together”
WHEN: Premiering Sunday, Sept. 12, at 4 p.m.
WHERE: HEC Media, Channel 989 on Charter; Channel 99 on UVerse; Streaming on HEC Media and the Arts & Faith YouTube page.
Arts & Faith St. Louis began on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with an interfaith commemoration in music at The Sheldon Concert Hall. The concert, which has become an annual event, has been presented to capacity audiences, though the 2020 and 2021 concerts are virtual.
Headlined by renowned soprano Christine Brewer and other acclaimed local musicians, the event showcases the performances of diverse faith groups, providing an opportunity for reflection, unity and peace.