St. Luke’s builds new traditions with novel approach to Evensong
About nine years ago, in late 2004, Kent Jones was asked to do something special for St. Luke’s Day, October 18, the day in the Anglican calendar that celebrates the patron saint of the Episcopal church in Monrovia, CA where he was the new music director. With only four people in the regular choir at that point, he called in some extra guys from among his friends and colleagues, collected and even arranged some music for three-part men’s choir, and launched the first Men’s Evensong Invitational, an event that became a welcome annual tradition in the parish. Four years later, his alto section leader at the time, Betsy Kardos, suggested that the women needed an Evensong of their own, too, and Kent went to work, scheduling it for Lent and arranging new music for the women, including a new version of the Phos Hilaron that had already become one of his most popular works.
The Evensong is a special service in the Anglican* tradition: usually scheduled in the late afternoon on Sundays, the liturgy is designed to place a special focus on music, including hymns, choral anthems and much more. What Mr. Jones has built adds an additional element by including the much broader music community, inviting trained singers from various parts of Southern California to join St. Luke’s small ensemble as guest choristers. These guests volunteer their time, but come back again and again to sing great music and to enjoy the sanctuary’s exquisite acoustics and lovely community.
St. Luke’s Choir, now a small force of eleven singers with a tight sound and deep commitment, also does two “co-ed” Evensongs on their own in January and May, for a total of four each year. This is the sixth incarnation of the women’s service, with Kardos, its instigator, coming from her current home out of town to cantor the service. We’ll also watch for news of the next Men’s Invitational in October, as it will be their tenth — more good things ahead!
122 S. California Ave.
Monrovia, CA 91016
*For clarification: The Episcopal Church of the USA is the primary American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, so Episcopal churches maintain strong ties to Anglican liturgy and traditions.