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First Congregational Church starts First at Two concerts

First Congregational Church of Naperville wants the community to rejoice in music, so it recently started the First at Two Concert Series.

The recently launched initiative, which refers to First Congregational at 2 p.m., brings concerts of professional caliber to the community. The concerts are at 2 p.m. on select Sunday afternoons.

“Our goal is not necessarily to fill the sanctuary,” said Christopher Lorimer, choir director at First Congregational. “It’s to offer a comfortable concert for people who might not otherwise be able to afford or attend one.”

Additionally, the concerts help a local organization. The free-will offering is donated to an area nonprofit organization.

“Our website is loveandjustic.org,” Lorimer said. “Any service that helps the downtrodden or those in need … that’s who we want to help.”

On June 15, the First at Two Concert will support Naperville Cares, which provides emergency financial support and resources for local families in financial crisis.

“Music is hugely important here,” Lorimer said. “Music is such an important aspect of our community. We’re just lucky and blessed that there are a lot of people willing to offer their time and talents.”

Pastor Mark Winters said that it is both exciting and fitting that First Congregational can contribute to the community in this way.

“It’s great if we’re able to lift the arts up a little more,” he said. “We have great artists in the congregation and in the community, and it’s neat to celebrate that. We all have different spiritual gifts and abilities.

“It’s a wonderful thing to include the arts in one’s spiritual expression. Sometimes the arts can express things that words aren’t able to express.”

As a professional musician, Lorimer has been able to reach out to his colleagues for the concerts. He is a teacher at Wheaton College and Concordia University and has been a professional singer for more than 30 years.

The premiere First at Two concert featured members of First Congregational, and raised more than $800. That money was donated to Community Access Naperville.

The June concert will showcase two professional singers with whom Lorimer works at Wheaton College.

“I have a feeling that there might be a lot of people willing to participate when they see what we’re doing,” he said.

Performing in the June concert will be mezzo-soprano Denise Gamez, soprano Carolyn Hart and pianist Daniel Paul Horn.

Gamez has been a member of the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera Center, and has performed with several orchestras. She is a special guest instructor in voice at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.

Hart performs internationally and is an associate professor and chairperson of the voice department at Wheaton College.

Horn is the professor of piano and chair of keyboard studies at Wheaton College’s Conservatory.

“I’ve sung with them professionally, and they’re wonderful and giving colleagues,” Lorimer said. “Their vocal abilities and musicianship is outstanding. What they do is give of themselves, of their talent and ability. They’re quality people.”

The concert will feature classical music and show tunes.

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