Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill Says Goodbye to Longtime Choirmaster

Donald Nally will take over the position this fall.

If you've spent any time at all enjoying the various music programs the (PCCH) has to offer, chances are you've encountered Mark Anderson.  

A staple at PCCH, the organist and choirmaster has played a major part in every aspect of the church's music and fine arts programs since he first came on board in 1996.  From overseeing the renovation of the church's music sanctuary and installation of the Mander organ to directing the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, Anderson has been an invaluable member of PCCH's worship and non-worship offerings. 

"Eleven years ago the church was renovated and the acoustics were improved so it would be a space that was conducive towards worship and music without worship as well," Anderson said.  "One of our goals was to make it a place other groups might want to come and use throughout the week."

Needless to say, PCCH was quite successful in their aims.  From September through May, residents of Chestnut Hill are treated to some of the finest musical offerings the area has to offer. 

Minister Cynthia Jarvis said that under Mark's and her stewardship, PCCH decided to set a standard of excellence when it came to the music program.

“I think what we have tried to do is to have this church be, on a lot of levels, a patron of the arts,” Jarvis said.  “Our commitment is to the highest level of music.” 

PCCH now has several groups in residence including world-renowned Philadelphia baroque orchestra Tempesta Di Mare, Renaissance band, Piffaro, and critically-acclaimed modern choral ensemble, The Crossing.

According to Anderson, though, renovating the church did much more than encourage these groups to take make it their home:

“[The renovation] served as a major catalyst for a renaissance of the congregation's spirit, as well as the impetus for substantial growth in membership and activities,” Anderson said.

Jarvis couldn't agree more.

“When members of our congregation say why they're here, the music ranks way up there - people are really drawn to it,” she said.  “The way Mark has led our congregation in singing is very important to who we are, who we've become.” 

Anderson recently accepting a similar position at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and Donald Nally, director of The Crossing, will be filling his position at PCCH.

As for Anderson, it seems as if things are about to change a great deal.  Still, he'll always hold fond memories of his time in Chestnut Hill.

“It is very difficult to say goodbye to the church,” he said.  “I will miss Chestnut Hill, this church and its people, and my beloved colleague and dear friend, Cindy.  I have been deeply and richly blessed.” 

More info about the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill's fine arts offerings can be found at their website: http://www.chestnuthillpres.org/


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