Musica Sacra concert series concerts are held four times a year in the Sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church.
Concerts often feature world-famous musicians of the highest calibre and afford the listener the opportunity to have front-row or nearly front-row seats for free in an accoustically significant space.
See our upcoming schedule and performance archives.
Musica Sacra Atlanta - A History
In January 1989, a music concert series was launched under the direction of then newly appointed musicians Diane and Charles W. Whittaker at First Presbyterian Church on Peachtree located in the center of the arts district. The music directors envisioned a concert series which would present great performances of sacred music appealing to people of all ages and open to all free of charge. The venue offers superior accoustics designed for concerts and is adorned with exquisite Tiffany stained glass windows and priceless mosaics.
During the past seventeen years Musica Sacra Atlanta has grown in stature artistically and financially. Through careful financial planning, gifts of patrons have formed two funds:
- An endowment which insures continued performances in sacred arts for future generations but cannot be spent now.
- Gifts directly to Musica Sacra Atlanta which comprise the general operating funds paying current expenses of each concert.
A luncheon with a talk by guest musicians or director Charles Whittaker precedes the concerts and a post concert reception gives audiences an opportunity to speak with musicians.
Over the years a diverse pattern has emerged which has brought audiences from Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and even as far as Missouri. Concerts have included:
- Dr. Karl Haas, nationally renowned musicologist of radio fame, who packed the halls and aisles.
- "Bach Dances" – choreographed by a professional dance company to organ music played by Charles Whittaker.
- Jean-Pierre Leguay, organist of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
- Christopher Herrick, past organist of Westminster Abbey, and Gerre Hancock, organist from St. Thomas in New York, have also been thrilled to play the 105 rank Zimmer organ with its 6158 pipes.
- Diane and Charles Whittaker presented an antiphonal organ concert demonstrating the capabilities of the chancel console and the balcony console.
- Janos Czifra, kapellmeister of Salzburg Cathedral, Austria, conducted the Oratorio Choir and Musica Sacra Orchestra in Mozart's "Exultate Jubilate" and Haydn's "Mass in D" (The Lord Nelson).
- Donald Allred, conducted "The Art of English Handbells" performed by many Georgia handbell choirs.
- Schola Cantorum performed Renaissance choral music.
- Morehouse Glee Club.
- "Jitros" children's choir from the Czech Republic drew throngs of children from the greater regional area, demonstrating the highest level of choral art in a child-friendly atmosphere.
- Mrs. Fred Rogers, pianist and wife of "Mr. Rogers" performed "Variations on a Theme by Paganini."
- The Kiev Symphony and Chorus from the Ukraine astounded standing room only audiences from all over the Southeast with their native folk music and instruments plus the lushness of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev and Bernstein.
- Dr. Nancy Elton, award winning pianist, teacher and former faculty member of Southwest Texas University, Clayton State College and Georgia State University, performed the exciting piano solo in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with the Musica Sacra Orchestra and Oratorio Choir.
Musica Sacra's Oratorio Choir has toured Europe, the British Isles, and several southeastern states. It is comprised of professional and dedicated volunteer choir members with an impressive repertoire including 20th century English, Baroque, Romantic oratorios, classic masses, and American works. Performing at the "First Christmas of Freedom Festival" as the guest of President Havel in Prague has been one of many highlights.