Festival of Worship: ‘Joining together in praise of God’
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will resound with joyful voices from Christian churches throughout Southern California in a multi-denominational worship gathering Feb. 10, 7 p.m.
Produced and co-hosted by the Brehm Center’s Fred Bock Institute of Music based at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, the “Let the Heavens Praise” Festival of Worship will feature a 1,000-voice super choir made up of 40 individual choirs, a children’s choir, a brass and percussion ensemble, a solo violinist and a liturgical dancer.
A worship service with the choirs providing the primary leadership, the event will intersperse original and traditional church music with readings from the Old and New Testaments and moments dedicated to silence and prayer.
The choir will be conducted by award-winning composer, Craig Courtney, whose music will be featured, along with classic worship songs, gospel hymns and contemporary works that include a composition from Dr. Ed Willmington, director of the Fred Bock Institute. Special guests will include opera singer Jessica Rivera.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the pieces come together,” said Willmington, who works all year to organize the festival, contacting choirs and visiting them during rehearsals which start in September for the annual February festival. This year’s second annual festival, drawing Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist choirs, among others, has doubled its Catholic choir participation.
Local Catholic groups participating include choirs from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles; Holy Trinity, San Pedro; St. Julie Billiart, Newbury Park; St. Lawrence Martyr, Redondo Beach and St. Rita, Sierra Madre. A sampling of other churches participating include Lake Avenue Church (Pasadena), La Jolla Community Church, Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church (Riverside) and the Southern California Mormon Choir.
“There are lots of concerts, but I don’t know of an event bringing together people from multiple denominations in such a beautiful setting. It’s the reason why I’m so motivated,” said Willmington, who added that the focus is on participation, with opportunities for the congregation to sing along. Congregational singing will include well-known songs sung in Christian churches such as “Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven” and “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”
“It was pretty exhilarating to sing in the choir last year and join with such a diverse group of people,” said Willmington, noting that many singers came from small church choirs and appreciated the opportunity to be part of a large group.
“It’s a wonderful unity of the Christian family,” said Lois Bock, whose late husband, Fred, former music director at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, was the inspiration for the 2005 founding of the Fred Bock Institute offering a graduate degree in theology with a concentration in worship and music.
“The participants love it,” added Bock. “It’s joining together in praise of God.”
Open to the public, the Festival of Worship taking place Feb. 10, 7 p.m., at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has a suggested donation of $10 per person.