Fountain Street Church hosts concert organized by Grand Rapids jazz artist

Courtesy /

Courtesy /

Jacob Creswell

On Sunday, Nov. 4, the Fountain Street Church (FSC) in Grand Rapids will host the first in a series of three jazz performances titled “Jazz in the Sanctuary.” This is the fifth year the church has done the event. There will be two other performers – Paul Brewer and Altin Sencalar – playing during the first concert of Jazz in the Sanctuary.

The host for this event is Robin Connell, an award-winning jazz artist who happens to be a Grand Rapids local. Additionally, the event manager, Conor Bardallis, stated that Fountain Street Church aims to keep an appreciation for arts alive and to assist in reviving jazz in the Grand Rapids area. Bardallis also said that several high-profile jazz artists have performed at Fountain Street Church, including Eliza Fitzgerald in October of 1966.

“(Conell) brings friends and fellow musicians together from around the country in support of arts and jazz — the Church is all about supporting the arts,” Bardallis said. 

When asked about the specifics of the event, Bardallis noted how the event is conducted. In between the jazz pieces performed, Conell will often have conversations with the attendees, talking to them about what got them interesting in the performance or in jazz music as a whole. 

“Each year tries to be a little bit better than last year,” Bardallis said. He stated the overall goal was to have each year’s concert bring new content and experiences to the table.

Bardallis also stated how this year they’ve implemented a large monitor and added filming camera cuts in order to give the entire production a more professional feel.

As for the significance between the building and jazz production as a whole, Bardallis stresses the acoustics of Fountain Street Church and how they add to the entire production, allowing some of the quieter instruments to benefit from this.

Furthermore, there will be two other concerts for this event which are scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10 and Thursday, May 9. The February performance will line up with the 150th year of Fountain Street Church and to celebrate, the event will feature pianist, Xavier Davis. The concert on May 9 will feature saxophonist Alain Sullivan and bassist Elgin Vines.