Musical artists announced for summer concert series in St. John’s |

VALLE CRUCIS — The roster of artists has been announced for the popular summer concert series at historic St. John’s Church in Valle Crucis with monthly events scheduled from July 3 through Labor Day weekend.

Holy Cross Episcopal Church’s summer mission, the quaint chapel, dedicated in 1862, is set in rural Watauga County and offers wonderful acoustics for music with its wooden walls and floors forming a natural sounding board for live shows.

Concerts feature some of the High Country’s finest musicians as well as nationally recognized regional artists. Participants linger until sunset to mingle with the artists after their performance. All concerts begin at 5 p.m. sharp, last approximately 60 minutes, and are followed by a potluck dinner. Suggested admission is $10 per person to offset entertainer fees, with children 12 and under admitted free.

Fresh off their highly acclaimed performance at BOONERANG, the Junaluska Gospel Choir of Boone Mennonite Brethren Church will present an evening of spirituals and gospel favorites on Sunday, July 3, 2022. Nestled in the Junaluska neighborhood, one of the oldest communities in predominantly African American in western North Carolina, the “little white church on the hill” has hosted some of the region’s most talented gospel ensembles and over the years the unique and eclectic sound of the Junaluska Gospel Choir morphed into a passionate blend of gospel styles.

Having performed at MerleFest and famous throughout the North Carolina High Country for their passionate and uplifting performances in the Black Church and Old-Time Gospel musical traditions, the choir includes singers from several generations of choral artists. They’ll be joined by some of the area’s best rhythm and blues musicians, and audience members will find it’s nearly impossible to sit still during a choir performance.

When asked to comment on the Junaluska Gospel Choir, Reverend R. Allan McCaslin, Rector of Holy Cross, quoted St. Augustine as saying, “He who sings, prays twice. Scholars say that Augustine, the holy bishop of Hippo, meant that singing adds to our praise and worship of God, that our voices are gifts with which we can make music to the Lord. The sung prayer expresses the joy of the heart, the happiness resulting from one who has encountered Jesus Christ and experienced his love. The sung prayer reminds us of the choirs of heaven, with which we are called to eternally praise God in heaven.

“There’s no better place than St. John’s to raise your voices in song and praise,” McCaslin said.

On Sunday, August 7, the eight-member Raleigh Flute Choir will honor the St. John’s Choir for a farewell concert just before departing for Chicago where they will perform at the National Flute Association’s annual convention. Founded in 1986, the RFC is a chamber ensemble of professional flautists from central North Carolina. They have distinguished themselves as one of the leading flute choirs in the country. Using all members of the flute family, they perform an exciting repertoire spanning centuries from the Renaissance to the present day, including transcriptions and original compositions.

“After their scheduled performances in 2020 and 2021 were postponed due to the pandemic,” McCaslin said, “we are thrilled to welcome this exceptional group home to St. John’s, and believe me when I say that They are well worth the wait!”

Back by popular demand, Four Leaf Peat, a top Irish band from Knoxville, bring the 2022 season to a close on Sunday, September 4, 2022 performing traditional Celtic music, along with jigs, reels, songs and bagpipes . Four Leaf Peat’s performances are always marked by a strong sense of tradition, mixed with just the right amount of influence from East Tennessee’s rich musical history. They have built their own brand of Irish music that celebrates the musical bridge that spans the Atlantic from Appalachia to Ireland.

Attendees traditionally bring a dish to share at the potluck dinner on the lawn following each summer concert, with dozens arriving early to begin the social aspect of the evening’s festivities. Many spectators prefer to set up lawn chairs near the open windows of the chapel and listen to the music that echoes throughout the valley. All are welcome as local residents mingle with newcomers and visitors to the historic melting pot of St. John’s.

St. John’s Chapel is located at 645 Herb Thomas Road off Mast Gap Road in the community of Sugar Grove near Valle Crucis, North Carolina. Signs are displayed throughout the valley to direct spectators to the concert venue. For more information, visit the concert website at www.holycrossvallecrucis.nand or dial (828) 963-4609.

William N. Fernandez