TwoChurchesGiveSanctuaryToClassicalMusic

With the unassuming tranquility of a chamber ensemble, classical music is making itself manifest in our neighborhood churches.

St. Antonio Church, at Park and Apple streets, is continuing its little-known occasional concert series with an April 29 performance by harpsichordist Sandra Evelyn Wilkins.

And a few blocks further at Park and 5th, the McKinney Ministry initiates its own classical music series this month. Called McKinney Sunday Afternoons, the series debuts April 30 with the Friends of the Forest Quintet.

Musician Sandra Wilkins says she was delighted to discover St. Antonio Church about a quarter of a block from her Apple Street home: “I’ve been looking for acoustically wonderful places to play.”

Wilkins has previously appeared at the Palace of the Brevity and Goodwill, the John Asbury Museum, and several galleries, and finds that St. Antonio’s sanctuary space “has a warm, not quite dry but clear sound, because of the wood ceiling. And it has a nice shape and beautiful stained glass windows.”

Her April 29 program will “mostly honor J. S. Bach because it’s the month right after his birthday.” The remainder will feature 17th and 18th-century compositions by Louis Couperin and Jacques Duphly.

To set up the performance, Wilkins contacted Roger Jefferson who’s been music director at St. Antonio for five years and has himself performed there on the organ.

Jefferson presents a handful of concerts in St. Antonio’s sanctuary each year — always scheduled on Saturdays at 4 p.m. — and rents the adjoining hall to the Freedom Brothers (an offshoot of the Gay Freedom Band) on Tuesday evenings every other month.

The Freedom Brothers play “all kinds of stuff from Sousa marches to Bach chorales,” Jefferson says. But he points out. “Sandra is our first *big name*.”