Concert series kicks off with spiritual songs

Feb 20, 2024

A pair of familiar faces kicked off the 2024 season of ‘Arts at the Stone Church’, an arts series produced by the First Congregational Church of Wareham on Sunday, Feb. 18. 

Tenor David Won and pianist Tim Steele performed a selection of spirituals and sacred songs. Both musicians have played several times in Wareham, most recently in a May 2023 concert for the victims of the East Palestine train derailment. 

“This is so exciting, and it’s the perfect activity for a winter day,” said Reverend Philomena Hare, the Church’s pastor. 

Hare called upon the audience to listen to the music they’d be hearing, including several traditional African-American spirituals. After this hour of “just being washed over,” she said, she asked the audience to consider the educational value in Black history. 

The two performed music from a range of different musical influences, all arranged by the composer Mark Hayes. Hayes’ music gets performed “constantly,” said Steele, but he is most known for his composition and arrangement of religious music. 

Hayes himself picked out the works for the afternoon’s performance, said Steele; while Steele accompanied Won in Sunday’s performance, Hayes himself will accompany Won with the same selection of pieces in a few weeks time in a performance in Kansas City. 

The two played music from traditional African-American spirituals to traditional Shaker tunes to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical theater works. 

Won’s clear voice and rich tone brought quiet emotion to works such as “You Raise Me Up” and a rendition of “Amazing Grace” set to a traditional Celtic melody, while Steele at the piano shone in a dramatic rendition of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jerico.”

“It always warms our hearts to come to Wareham and perform for you,” said Steele.