Sounds on Oberlin

09.17.18 | Stories, Music | by Susan Hibbert

Sounds on Oberlin is the brand-new concert series at WMPC! An eclectic lineup of musicians performing a wide variety of music will help Sounds on Oberlin fulfill its mission “to spiritually engage, vitally enrich, musically educate, and gloriously entertain the community” with high-quality music offered free of charge to all. Bluegrass, chamber music, musical theatre, opera arias, choral masterworks with orchestra, an internationally acclaimed handbell choir, and solo piano are all on the schedule for this inaugural year. Mark the dates on your calendar - you won’t want to miss a single concert!

The genesis of the idea to start a concert series was the piano dedication recital presented at WMPC on August 26, 2016, says committee co-chair Tim Sparks. “When walking into the sanctuary to begin the program, my breath was taken away by the energy in the sanctuary as I noticed a full house…filled all the way to the top of the balcony! Who knew such a program would attract so many, both from the congregation and the wider community. This was both deeply moving and inspirational. After the program, many expressed deep gratitude for the concert, and some even had tears of joy rolling down their faces in response to all the music presented that evening.”

In the days following that concert, Tim mused aloud that if a lightly-publicized August concert could inspire such a wonderful response, it would be interesting to see what would happen if WMPC had a concert series of its own. Kirsten Homdrom, Associate Director of Music, was very supportive, the Worship Committee agreed, and a committee was formed about a year ago. The work of the committee began with extensive research and polling of established concert series in other churches across the country. All of this research helped the committee to formulate a mission statement, choose a name for the series, decide on guiding principles and aspirations, and select the artists for the first season.

Now – at last! Sounds on Oberlin is about to begin! 


The Lonely Heartstring Band, named in a tongue-in-cheek, tip-of-the-hat reference to one of their favorite albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is a genuine musicians’ band out of Boston, immediately appreciated by fellow musicians who identify with their sound. That said, this is not esoteric or effete music intended for a select few, but has listenability that appeals to the band’s already devoted following of fans and to music critics alike.

The Lonely Heartstring Band is comprised of George Clements on guitar and lead vocals, his identical twin brother Charles on bass and harmony vocals, Gabe Hirshfeld on banjo, Matt Witler on mandolin, and Patrick McGonigle on fiddle, rounding out the harmony vocals as well. Four of the five band members met while students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Gabe, George, and Charles are all from New England, while Matt and Patrick are both from the west coast (California and Vancouver, respectively).

wmpc advent music program,
adult choirs, soloists and orchestra

Mary’s song, the Magnificat, from the first chapter of Luke provides the theme for this Advent music offering. The concert will include Cantata 10 (Magnify the Lord, My Soul) and Magnificat in D, as well as two brief settings of the Magnificat for organ, all by Johann Sebastian Bach. WMPC adult choirs with guest soloists and orchestra will present this soaring and magnificent music.


Celebrating its 41st anniversary season, the Westminster Concert Bell Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College, which was the first institution in the world to develop such a program.

Hailed for its virtuosity, the ensemble performs on the largest range of handbells in the world – 8 octaves, from C1 to C9. Many of the bells are made of bronze and range in weight from four ounces to 11 pounds; the Choir also uses the large “Basso Profundo” aluminum-cast bells that are a new phenomenon in handbell ringing. The Choir supplements its handbells with a six-octave set of Malmark Choirchime® instruments from C2 to C8 – the widest range in existence.

The ensemble joined Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charlotte Church and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a critically acclaimed 15-city tour titled “A Royal Christmas.” The Choir has made 11 solo recordings.

The Westminster Concert Bell Choir’s 2018-2019 season includes a series of performances in Princeton and throughout New Jersey, including the annual An Evening of Readings and Carols festival in the Princeton University Chapel, and a concert tour of the Southeast in January.

a little about...
Kathleen Ebling Shaw


Celebrating her 28th year as conductor of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Kathleen Ebling Shaw is a Westminster Choir College alumna and a member of the Sacred Music faculty at Westminster Choir College, where she teaches classes in handbell training and conducts a second handbell choir.


Well known as a handbell clinician, Shaw has conducted sessions for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers both on the national and international levels.


three triangle tenors

George Deaton, Wade Henderson and Timothy Sparks founded Three Triangle Tenors in 2009 with collaborative pianist Thomas Warburton. Their popular performances have been presented from the Piedmont to the coast in central and eastern North Carolina. The three tenors and Thomas Warburton are pleased to present a concert of songs and arias in the inaugural season of Sounds on Oberlin concert series. The group has raised funds for worthwhile causes through many of their concerts. Their repertory encompasses folk songs, religious songs and arias, songs and ensembles from Broadway musicals and movie scores, opera arias and ensembles, and Neapolitan songs. The individual performers have been involved in opera, oratorio, recital and teaching not only in the Triangle area, but also elsewhere in the United States and in Europe. In a review of a Three Triangle Tenors fundraising concert in Raleigh, Classical Voice North Carolina wrote, “If the audience members were as generous with their purses as they were with their applause, then the [charity] will be in for a wonderful windfall.” 


American keyboardist Kirsten Homdrom’s performances span both the solo and collaborative realms, with repertoire ranging from the 1600’s to the present. In Music from Four Continents, Homdrom presents an eclectic program of solo piano music, including Felix Mendelssohn’s Fantasy in F# minor, Op. 28 (Scottish Sonata), Manuel de Falla’s Serenata Andaluza, Carl Vine’s Sonata No. 1, and Samuel Barber’s Excursions.

Since May 2015, Homdrom has been on staff at WMPC as Associate Director of Music.


Felix Mendelssohn is one of the most well-loved composers of the 19th century. He wrote two monumental piano trios, both of which will be presented by Incontri Musicali’s Niccoló Muti, NC Symphony’s David Oh, and WMPC’s Kirsten Homdrom.

This concert is sponsored through the generosity of Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic. 


2018-19 season
all concerts are free and held in the sanctuary

Sunday | September 23 | 2018 | 3pm
Inaugural Concert: The Lonely Heartstring Band

 Sunday | December 9 | 2018 | 3pm
WMPC Advent Music Program,
Adult Choirs, Soloists and Orchestra

 Sunday | January 13 | 2019 | 3pm
Westminster Concert Bell Choir

Sunday | February 24 | 2019 | 3pm
Three Triangle Tenors

 Friday | April 5 | 2019 | 7pm
Music from Four Continents - Kirsten Homdrom, Piano

Sunday | June 9 | 2019 | 3pm
Mendelssohn Piano Trios
Niccoló Muti, violin; David Oh, cello & Kirsten Homdrom, piano

Concert Series Committee
Tim Sparks and Susan Hibbert, Co-Chairs
Celeste Allen, Hampton Fields, Tracey Fountain Hall, Georgia Schmidt, Lindsey Tomlinson and Brian White 
with continuing support from WMPC’s staff