Thursday, April 21, 2016

Music & Visual Arts Combine in an Evening of Jazz Vespers

By Guest Blogger Sharon Bryant 
Jonathan Whitney's ensemble performs at SsAM Jazz Vespers.
Sharon has lived and worked in Wilmington all her life. She is a member of The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew and currently the Chairperson of their Downtown Arts Ministry. She enjoys being a part of the City of Wilmington and although she loves the arts, she truly loves the musical side of it all.

The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew (better known as SsAM) – which has long been known for a variety of fabulous musical programs – held a Jazz Vespers on Sunday, April 17. Named in memory of the late Rev. Rod Welles (former associate minister at SsAM and a major jazz lover), the evening had the traditional Vespers elements wrapped around wonderful music and interactive art.  Musician Jonathan Whitney, percussionist and Artist-in-Residence at SsAM, used folk artist Eunice LaFate's paintings to inspire his music. A number of youth artists – both from SsAM's congregation and from the larger community – in turn used his music to inspire their live painting.

I truly enjoyed the Jazz Vespers. It was such a soothing type of evening but at the same time very energizing. We listened intently to the music and then watched those blank canvases come to life through the artistry of the children under the direction of Eunice LaFate.

Even the audience got involved, as we were encouraged by Jonathan Whitney to walk around and watch the children at work while enjoying the music in the background. No real talking going on with us – just moving around, taking photos, quietly smiling, as we were simply in awe of it all.
Eunice LaFate poses with the young artists of Jazz Vespers. 
Amazing that Rev. Welles spirit was in the room as he would have just loved it! Oh yes, he was truly there – his God-loving spirit was in the room for real, and that was especially meaningful when we learned that the day was also his birthday!

It was an evening of truly amazing music and the first time something so interactive has happened at the Jazz Vespers! But, hey, we know SsAM is known for being first at so many great things in this community. I suspect this will not be the last time that something like this happens.



  1. After reading your blog, l will come to the next jazz vespers.

    1. That would be awesome, Deborah!

    2. That would be awesome, Deborah!

    3. Sharon,I was there and couldn't add one new detail to your blog-so graphic, so real. SsAM is fortunate to have Jonathan,as artist-in-residence, and you as blogger in residence!

    4. Sharon,I was there and couldn't add one new detail to your blog-so graphic, so real. SsAM is fortunate to have Jonathan,as artist-in-residence, and you as blogger in residence!

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