By Brandon HENSLEY
Members of the La Crescenta Presbyterian Church choir lift up their voices on a weekly a basis, but last month they were able to do it in front of a much bigger audience: at the L.A. Cathedral.
It was at the annual “Festival of Worship” at the cathedral in downtown L.A. LCPC’s choir, as well as its bell choir, performed. The bell choir actually opened the event and was the only bell choir involved.
“It was a wonderful, ecumenical service,” said Sue Peters, head of LCPC’s Music and Worship Committee, and who is a member of both choirs. Peters has been a member at La Crescenta Pres for two decades.
“For 20 years, I’ve been singing and ringing,” she said. But she’d never been a part of something like this. About 800 people were gathered that Sunday and 300 choir members sang.
“It was fantastic and I can’t wait to do it next year,” she said.
The festival, which included gospel and contemporary music, was a chance for La Crescenta’s members to showcase their talent and lift up God at the same time. They do practice quite a bit, after all. There are about 18 members in the choir and 13 to 15 bell choir members, said Peters, led by Music Director Tom Brown.
“They’re kind of a unique group in our community,” Brown said of his choir. Brown has been at the church for 12 years. He studied music at Cal State Northridge and has experience in playing the organ, opera and vocal performance.
But, he says, “I didn’t really start singing until college.”
Members of both choirs practice every Wednesday evening. The choir sings at every 11 a.m. service on Sundays and sometimes during the 9 a.m. contemporary service, which features more Christian Rock music. The bell choir performs every six weeks.
“It’s conducted very much like an orchestra,” said Brown.
If you ask Peters, she’ll say she’s not particularly gifted, just “very committed and dedicated” to the music at La Crescenta Pres. But it’s people like her that makes the church a special place.
“I think we have a great variety of music,” Brown said. “It’s really a broad range.”
To play the bells isn’t that hard, according to Brown, once you figure out the rhythm. Peters said it’s about timing.
“You have to work together. You have to anticipate the beat. It takes a moment to ring it, so you have to anticipate the beat and the director,” she said.
All of this is why Peters is so dedicated. She said being in a choir has a different effect on helping people worship.
“When we play we’re not just playing music, it’s a ministry. Some people say it’s a performance, but it’s a way of bringing other people to Christ. Some people aren’t reached by the spoken word … sometimes it just doesn’t touch you. You need different ways to draw [folks] in.”