2017 Festival of Music and the Arts: November 3, 4 and 5  The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill

The 2017 Festival of Music and the Arts at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on the weekend of November 3-5 will feature art, drama and music that take as their subject the men, women and children whose lives have been tragically altered or cut short by gun violence. The Festival will open with an art exhibition entitled Souls Shot: Portraits of Victims of Gun Violence on Friday night at 6 p.m., continue with a Readers’ Theater production of 26 Pebbles on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., and conclude with a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, James MacMillan’s A Child’s Prayer, and the premier of Lewis Spratlan’s Unspoken Words by the church’s Gallery Choir on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. At each event, a free-will offering will be taken in support of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, a faith-based movement committed to the prevention of gun violence.

Telling just some of the stories of the lives lived by the victims of gun violence is the goal of Souls Shot: Portraits of Victims of Gun ViolenceFor this important project twenty-five artists were paired with families or friends of victims in Philadelphia. The portraits created illuminate those precious lives to encourage the viewer to focus beyond the statistics and see the individuals and the poignant cost of gun violence. The opening on November 3 at 6 p.m. will include a reception and 7:30 p.m. program featuring Senator Art Haywood and The Healing Presence Singers. The exhibition will be on view throughout the month of November from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

26 Pebbles was written by New York actor Eric Ulloa in response to the unthinkable deaths by gun violence of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Ulloa found himself so consumed by this tragedy that he went to Newtown to speak with residents of the town about what life was like there both before and after that life-changing morning. Six members of the church’s congregation will portray 21 residents of Newtown, all of whom were profoundly affected by the shootings and their aftermath. This moving and deeply personal play explores the themes of family, community and what it is like to be thrust tragically into the spotlight. The reading will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 4.

On Sunday, November 5th, at 4:00 p.m., the PCCH Gallery Choir and soloists will be joined by the Prometheus Chamber Orchestra in a performance of three pieces. Mozart’s Requiem will be offered as a prayer for the eternal rest of victims and as a comfort for those left behind. A Child’s Prayer, by Scottish composer James MacMillan, was written in response to Britain’s worst mass shooting in 1996 which left 16 students dead at a primary school in Dunblaine, Scotland. Unspoken Words, by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlan with text by Paul Kane, is a raw, bold, impassioned response to the gun violence epidemic in our country and was commissioned by the church for this Festival.

The Memorial to the Lost, first installed on the lawn of The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in February of 2013, will occupy the lawn again during the Festival and continue until the end of November. A project of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, the memorial remembers on tee shirts that double for tombstones the names, ages and death dates of all who have lost their lives to gun violence in Philadelphia in 2017.

All events will take place at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. For more information call 215-247-8855 or visit www.chestnuthillpres.org.