It was the summer of 1994 when the first series of free, noontime concerts called Music & More was offered at First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave., Racine.  The Rev. Randy Bush, who was the church’s pastor at the time, founded the series as a way to showcase local musicians, bring more people to downtown, and raise some money for worthwhile causes. It started off as a simple idea with five concerts offered in the church’s historic sanctuary that first summer. The next season there were eight and, in its third year, the series added an evening concert to conclude the season. Though the format for the series has been tweaked a bit through the years, its goals remain true to Rev. Bush’s original vision.

On June 7, Music & More will kick-off its 25th anniversary season with ten noontime concerts— each will feature several acts — plus a season finale show. The series has grown every year, and more than 200 people typically attend the noontime concert each Thursday.

A freewill offering is collected at each of the ten noontime concerts and divided between three non-profit organizations at the end of the series. Last summer $5,400 was distributed to further the work of those agencies. Over the years, many thousands of dollars has been returned to the community through the weekly freewill offerings.

Grant recipients through the years have ranged from Racine Habitat for Humanity and Racine County Food Bank to the Women’s Resource Center and the Racine Vocational Ministry, Inc. This year’s recipients will be the Health Care Network, the Hospitality Center at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the Racine Arts Council’s LINK program (Lonely Instruments Need Kids). This community outreach component is one of the things that draw many members of the church to be involved in Music & More, in various ways.

Season 25 will feature a variety of new sounds, including the Young Strings, violinist Drake Reid from Madison; flute duets with Martha Fergus and Frank Suetholz; soprano Carol Thiel; the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Stars of Tomorrow competition finalist cellist Viktor Brusubardis, and pianist Martin O’Leary who will be coming from Dublin, Ireland.

The Choral Arts Society 65-member chorus will perform with Mark Paffrath, Jeff Ward, and Zachary Scot Johnson at the season finale on Friday evening, August 17.

The church is air-conditioned and handicap-accessible with elevator at parking lot door.

WHEN: Noon to 1 p.m. on Thursdays, from June 7 through Aug. 9; Season Finale Concert will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17.

WHERE: First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave.

COST: All noontime concerts are free. The Season Finale Concert costs $10 at the door.

INFO: Go to www.firstpresracine.org or call (262) 632-1686.

Music & More performers

June 7 – Dairy Statesmen Chorus – barbershop; Drake Reid – violin & piano; Carolyn Wehner – vocal & piano

June 14 – Michael Mueller & Nick Barootian – vocal; Ann Heide & Terri Seitz – violin & piano;

Belle Ensemble – vocal

June 21 – Carol Christensen & Sharon Adel – violin & piano; Anna Nuzzo & Luke Nuzzo – vocal & guitar; Mark Paffrath, Dave Titus, Alejandro Alumbreros – vocal, guitar & piano

June 28 – Fumi Nakayama & Annli Nakayama – piano, violin, vocal; Martha Fergus, Frank Suetholz, Anna Kojovic-Frodl – flutes & piano; Jillian Bruss, Carol Thiel, Anne Van Deusen – vocal & piano

July 5 – Mitchell Proctor – vocal & piano; Zachary Scot Johnson – vocal & guitar; Young Strings – violins & cello

July 12 – Benjamin Nelson – piano; Muzika Piano Trio – violin, cello, piano; Corporate Downsizing Quartet – vocal & guitars

July 19 – Martin O’Leary – piano; Jeff Ward – vocal & guitar; Nancy Maio & Gare Hofstad – violin & guitar

July 26 – Jill Jensen & Jack Grassel – vocal & guitar; Scott Cook – cello; Suzanne Geoffrey – oboe

August 2 – Karen Beaumont – organ; Viktor  Brusubardis  – cello; Lynda Schlitz Ensemble – vocal, violin, drums, piano

August 9 – Anne Morse-Hambrock – harp; Ami Bouterse, Bob Benson, Evelyn Alumbreros, Alejandro Alumbreros – vocal & piano

Season Finale Concert – Friday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m.; Tickets $10 at the door

Choral Arts Society – 65-member chorus; Mark Paffrath, Jeff Ward,  & Zachary Scot Johnson – vocal, guitars, piano.

Submitted by: Georgia Hall, Chairman, Music & More Summer Concert Series