Church of Beethoven in Albuquerque sounds inspirational
Here's something a bit off the beaten path. A Los Angeles Times story that appeared this week describes a place where classical music lovers gather for a different kind of Sunday service at the Church of Beethoven in Albuquerque.
The place was founded by Felix Wurman, a cellist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Wurman, who died Dec. 26 after a year-long struggle against cancer, was inspired a couple years ago after playing a church gig and experiencing a deep reaction to both the music and the way the churchgoers responded. Quoting from the Times:
Wurman had an idea: "How about a church that
He recruited other musicians from the symphony, and ... in an abandoned gas station off old Route 66, they began playing concerts each Sunday. More and more people started coming ("I just leave here feeling really soul-satisfied," explained one regular, Veronica Reed, 68 ...), and after a couple of years, the concert series outgrew the space. Its current home, a renovated warehouse in downtown Albuquerque, is rather cathedral-like, with warm red walls, vaulted wood ceilings and stained glass windows.
Given the way things are going for classical music and the arts, maybe there will be a lot of such churches springing up around the country. This is certainly one way to keep the music going. (I'd probably be more inclined to stop by a Church of Mahler or Church of Bach, 'cause I think of those guys as extra-spiritual, but that's just me.)
The New Mexico church has lots of the little touches that set it apart from the more routine lliturgical operations -- massages and espresso bars are part of the scene -- but this is clearly no silly whim. You've got to hand it to Wurman and his friends for thinking way outside the religious box. And I rather like what one of the Beethovians, Pamela Michaelis, said to the Times reporter after a recent 'service':
"... she had felt the music "in the cavities" of her chest. She said she thinks the point of religion is to feel a part of something. The Church of Beethoven, she said, provides that. "That's what music is," she said. "It's something bigger than us."