Blog Post

Village Courier recognizes MAN’s 15th birthday

This story, written by Peg Hall, was excerpted from Sun City Roseville’s The Village Courier, December 2017:

Throughout the year, whatever the season, a free concert takes place at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento at noon on Wednesday. And you are invited.

While the church provides a stunning performance venue, the programs are not focused on the sacred or religious. A diverse roster of performers are center stage, presenting selections from many different genres. Each week the sanctuary is the lovely setting for instrumentalists and vocalists, choral groups and quartets. The Moller Grande Pipe organ is an additional asset with its wide range of moods.

The series, simply named “Music at Noon”, is a special time for music lovers seeking an hour of beauty and tranquility in the middle of their day. It also meets the needs of musicians who love to perform and to generously share their art with the community.

Artists comment that in this stress-free environment they feel a strong connection with the audience. Interest in presenting the noontime performances is so high that the schedule is filled through 2020.

The historic Church, at 13th and N Street, directly across from beautiful Capitol Park, staffs the weekly events with volunteers who manage parking and other logistics. They provide a place for donations where those who feel inclined to contribute may do so, but this is optional.

Originator of the program is Brad Slocum, church organist and director of this unique concert series which he initiated 15 years ago. It began as a lunchtime break in the work day, mid-week, appealing to employees in the Capitol area. Arriving with a sandwich in a sack, they satisfied their hunger for food and for culture in that weekly hour.

Slocum schedules all the talent, makes necessary arrangements, and invites the audience to BYOL—-Bring Your Own Lunch. Audience members are encouraged to eat in the sanctuary — quietly — while enjoying the concert.

Through the years, the demographics of the M.A.N. audience shifted. While music aficionados from the workplace still attend, the preponderance of listeners now come from the community, including a busload or so of residents from area retirement homes.

On Wednesdays, since 2002, thousands have entered Westminster’s peaceful, Byzantine-Romanesque sanctuary to be inspired or entertained. They might hear classics, jazz, pops, silent films with pipe organ accompaniment, Broadway show tunes, opera, folk, USAF ensembles, or world-music. Artists include pianists, singers, chamber musicians, choirs, organists, string players, brass and woodwind players, guitarists, and others.

Musicians love to perform. In this venue they can provide the audience a sample of their work in a stress-free setting. Interest in presenting the noontime performances is so great that Slocum has the schedule filled through 2020.

“The acoustics are magical,” says Slocum,”among the finest in the city. A medium-sized instrument does not require amplification, and the curves of the building result in a rich feedback of sound.“ Because the acoustics are so perfect you enjoy the natural quality of the music,” he explains. With many curved surfaces in the architecture of the church, there is no harsh flashback of the musical tones. Some professionals like to listen from the balcony, where the sound is reflected from many different angles, similar to the Mormon Tabernacle Cathedral.

A Sun City Roseville couple, art lovers and music fans, drop in whenever time permits. They consider M.A.N. a “treasure house of music that speaks to many.” There are unusual instruments and themes, from classical to medieval, contemporary, opera, Western, country and jazz and more. When an opera is being staged in the city, our group might hear a sample, a few arias from the leading singers…fantastic!

“It is well worth the 45 minute drive from Roseville, with free parking behind the church. We suggest arriving closer to 11:30am to get prime parking spots, and there’s a wonderful parking attendant who is most helpful.”

If an enchanting hour of music appeals to you this holiday season, here are the December performances. Note, the only Wednesday in the year with no M.A.N. performance is the week after Christmas.

Holiday music tends to engage larger ensembles:

December 6 – Camellia City Flute Choir

December 13 – Chanteuses Vocal Ensemble

December 20 – Bel Tempo Handbells

The upcoming year starts with Violinist Sandro Ladu and Pianist Ina Jun on January 3. The following Wednesday Pianist-Composer Chris Goslow and Friends appear. On January 17, Harpsichordist Faythe Vollrath; January 24, David Grangers Trois Bois, and January 31, Sacramento Guitar Society Orchestra directed by Sean O’Connor.

Sacramento area audiences are fortunate to have the tremendous gift of these weekly concerts.