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Thursday, April 29, 2010 02:56 pm

Let the arts take you on a spiritual journey

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St. Francis of Assisi Church
Though war, poverty and tough economic times have some of us living in a state of despair, the journey to peace and solace can begin with Springfield’s biennial Liturgical Arts Festival.

Held May 1 to May 4 at various locations throughout the city, the multi-faith interdenominational festival features a variety of programs designed to promote sacred and liturgical arts, while fostering a dialogue between people from different backgrounds.

The festival kicks off Saturday at 11 a.m. with a labyrinth walk at Jubilee Farm, located at 6760 Old Jacksonville Road. The labyrinth, a winding concentric path leading to a center point, is designed to provide a place for meditation and peaceful introspection. The labyrinth walk represents a journey to a person’s center and back out into the world.

In addition to the labyrinth walk, Saturday also marks the opening of the Liturgical and Sacred Art Exhibit. Hosted by the Springfield Art Association, 700 N. Fourth Street, the exhibit features more than 50 pieces of art in a variety of mediums. A new addition to this year’s exhibit is “The Young Artists’ Visions of the Sacred” display, which showcases artwork by area high school students. The opening reception takes place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The exhibit will be on display throughout the month of May.

St. Francis of Assissi Church, on the grounds of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis at 4849 Laverna Road, is the site of Sunday’s 4 p.m. concert, “Music of the New Millennium.” Presented by the Westminster choir and the Capital Chamber Singers, along with organist Dee Dee Gaines, keyboardists Al Murphy and Virginia Hosking, and oboist Krista Steller, the evening features a new Requiem, written by English composer Howard Goodall. Entitled “Eternal Light,” the piece, directed by Dale T. Rogers, addresses suffering and endurance, while focusing on the consequences of interrupted lives. The program also includes a setting of the communion text “Panis Angelicus,” a processional hymn, and a new anthem written by Springfield composer David Mitchell.

Westminster Presbyterian Church hosts Monday’s “An Evening of Celebration of the Liturgical Arts.” The program begins at 5 p.m. with the “Exhibit of Objects of Devotion” – a display of objects commonly used in various faith expressions, such as prayer rugs, prayer shawls, icons, mandalas, menorahs and rosaries. In addition to the objects, representatives from the various religions will be on hand to discuss the objects and how they are used.

Singers from Temple Israel, Temple B’rith Sholom, the Springfield Islamic Society and Christ the King Catholic School will lift their voices in praise during the 6 p.m. “Youth Praise Concert.”

The evening concludes with a 7 p.m. lecture, “Synagogues, Mosques, and Churches.” Presented by historian Dr. Larry Shiner, the lecture details how culture and religion interact to shape architectural forms, and how architecture adapts to local cultures and needs.

The festival culminates Tuesday, May 4, at First Presbyterian Church, with the dynamic sounds of The Heritage Ensemble of Peoria. The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will lead the listeners through a celebration of African-American spirituals and American gospel music. The Ensemble is no stranger to the festival. In 2008, more than 150 people attended the group’s concert.

The roots of the Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield date back to 1995, when a group of clergy, artists and community volunteers were interested in promoting expressions of spirituality and sacred art. The first festival was held in 1996. This year’s event marks the festival’s 12th season.

Contact Jolonda Young at ladyj2066@aol.com.
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