Church of the Brethren co-hosts benefit concert for crisis center

Published: 5/6/2008 12:16 AM

On Sunday, three diverse and engaging musicians will regale Elgin-area residents at a Mother's Day concert at 3 p.m. The concert is a benefit for the Community Crisis Center.

The theme "Always Home, Always Hope" fits this organization, which provides safety, shelter, and new possibilities for victimized women and children.

It's also a motif particularly appropriate for Mother's Day. The event is jointly sponsored by the Crisis Center and the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, 783 W. Highland Ave., Elgin. The church sanctuary will be the site of the concert.

Lyric baritone David Farwig of Colorado will open the concert with an uplifting program of excerpts from Ralph Vaughn Williams' "Songs of Travel." Folksinger, music educator, and Elgin resident Peg Lehman will follow with contemporary and original folk songs to engage and delight the audience, and build a sense of community. Lee Krahen-buhl, folksinger, songwriter, and wit will conclude the concert with original folk repartee that will intrigue audience members, make them think -- and sometimes make them laugh. Nancy Miner, a gifted local accompanist, will accompany Farwig on the piano.

This concert will remind audience members of the beauty and goodness in the world, of the rich humanity all people share, and of the deep connections with one another that make it possible for people to face and rise above their struggles.

Farwig is a world-traveled soloist, recording artist, chorister, and conductor, who has performed with orchestras, choruses, and choral ensembles across the country and with U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East; the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado; the Santa Fe Desert Chorale; Santa Fe Pro Musica; Choral Arts in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; and Robert Shaw and his Festival Singers at Carnegie Hall in New York are among the many orchestras and choruses with which he has sung. He received the Virginia Best Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival in California in 2003. He has sung on several professional and commercial recordings, including the U.S. Air Force "Singing Sergeants at Sunset Time"; St. Martin Chamber Choir's "The American Spirit"; Conspirare's "Through the Glass Fuse"; and the Grammy-nominated "Requiem." He now is the bass section leader and staff soloist at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Littleton, Colo., and maintains a coaching studio in his home.

Lehman is a folk singer, songwriter, and teaching artist who has sung at folk festivals, community events, concert halls, coffeehouses, churches, conferences, camps, and hundreds of schools and libraries around the country and has also appeared on National Public Radio. She has been a featured performer at 11 annual Song and Story Fests. She delights audiences of all ages with her expressive voice and two unusual instruments, the autoharp and Appalachian mountain dulcimer. She has produced seven recordings, including live children's concerts, collaborative albums with Lee Krahenbuhl, and two recordings by the Church of the Brethren folk band. For the past five years she has been a Ravinia Festival teaching artist who visits Chicago Public Schools to lead 15-week music residencies. She lives in Elgin and is a longtime volunteer at the Community Crisis Center, which in 2001 recognized her 14 years of service to child victims of domestic violence with a Partner in Peace award.

Krahenbuhl, a singer, writer, actor and director lives in Toledo, Ohio, where he teaches at the University of Toledo. His original recordings include the solo album "Thirsty" (1994), and the 2008 solo anthologies "Unnational Anthems" and "Sketch." With David Frantz he recorded "Love Unexplored" (1996), "Living Room" (2006), and the forthcoming "Heartsong" on the label Living Room Music. Lee also contributed to Peg Lehman's albums "What Will I Leave" and "Singing Myself Home." He recorded two albums with the folk group Kindling.

Krahenbuhl composed the theme songs "Come to the Edge" and "With Eyes of Faith" for the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conferences in 1994 and 1998, and "Let Us Gather," the 1995 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference theme. Lee has also performed on behalf of the Brethren/Mennonite Council for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, for which he wrote the theme songs "Abandon," "Leading the Dance," and "We Are Not Going Away." He lived in Elgin in the 1990s, when he taught theater at Judson College.

Nancy Miner, who will accompany David Farwig on the piano, is a member of the volunteer music ministry of the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, where she has served as piano accompanist for the Adult Choir for 25 years. She also enjoys working with Larkin High School students, serving as accompanist for the Illinois High School Association solo and ensemble contest, and senior recitals. She has played in the pit orchestra during several Larkin spring musicals. She currently works as administrative assistant for the Association of Brethren Caregivers. Nancy and her husband, Blaine, live in Elgin with their two children.

The Community Crisis Center was founded in 1975 by a group of dedicated volunteers to help those in crisis due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or economic circumstances. It offers a 24-hour crisis hotline; information and referral; emergency shelter; individual and group counseling; medical, legal and welfare advocacy; emergency assistance with food, clothing, rent and utilities; and transitional housing.

More than 6,000, individuals, including more than 635 children, receive services each year. In a recent year, the center served 1,848 adult victims of domestic violence and 364 child witnesses to domestic violence, and provided 10,534 nights of emergency shelter to 353 women and 329 children. Except for the Batterer Intervention program, all services are provided at no cost.

The Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren is has been committed for many years to improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged and is known in the Elgin community for its work on peace and social justice. In 2008 the Church of the Brethren as a denomination is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding in Germany in 1708.

The congregation is proud to co-host this event. A free-will offering will be accepted.

For details, call the Crisis Center at (847) 697-2380 or the church at (847) 741-5124.