"Our mission is to provide shelter, meals, case management, and educational services to homeless families in addition to promoting action and awareness in the community regarding homelessness." So goes the mission statement of Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network. Further, this is "the only program in Wake County that keeps families together." For several years now providing a powerful push toward achieving that mission have been the people of Saint Francis United Methodist Church. There in the gracious confines of the elegant sanctuary, the congregation's own Saint Francis Brass Band served up a program of elements diverse enough to please just about everybody at some point.
Founding Director Doug Amaxopulos opened with the first of two concessions to the religious dimension of the afternoon, an arrangement of "Come, Thou Almighty King." Later he led the 30-odd players in Haydn's "O Be Joyful."
If you had to choose a "star" for the proceedings, that honor would fall upon Melody Reed. This aptly-named singer brought a lush mezzo to a pair of arias from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, both ably accompanied by Scott Baker, the church's Director of Instrumental Music. She and the band pleasingly reprised a couple of torch songs from time gone by. This singer declared the conditions that must be present "When I Fall in Love," and she longed for "Someone to Watch over Me."
Associate Director Aaron Payne showed why the saxophone is such a worthy solo instrument, first with the band and the military march, "Forward to the Fight." Baker later accompanied him on "Variations on Taki's Kojo No Tsuki," an "Eastern impressionistic" piece with all the charm of a flute sonata.
The appealing little Suzuki Fiddlers, with their director Cortney Baker and with guitarist Geoff Hayes, furnished the hoedowns. There was "Old Joe Clark" and, in a nod to the really ole-time fiddlers, a rendition of "Soldier's Joy."
Since it is after Labor Day, it seemed appropriate to bring Christmas into the act. The players were at their most authoritative with "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree," here led by guest euphonium player Randy Guptill. With help from king-makers John Wakeford, Matthew Wakeford, and Frank Mesich, "We Three Kings" was rendered as "Kings of Swing"! While there's no evidence that either Balthasar or Caspar or Melchior was particularly into swing, one would be hard pressed to prove that they weren't.
A "Love Offering" was received during the aforementioned Haydn work on this, the loveliest afternoon of the young season. If the attendees were as generous with their purses as with their applause, then the Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network was verily and rightly blessed.