Polished Notes on Sixth Avenue

“George, perhaps you can just play gently.”

This last minute advice from the conductor before my debut performance as a member of the fifth grade class band is a humbling segue into my present task of informing the good readers of WestView News about the newly installed 40 rank pipe organ gracing the choir loft of the Church of Saint Joseph’s.

In case your West Village ecclesial acumen is lacking, “St. Joe’s” is the Roman Catholic parish with the Greek revival columns on the corner of 6th Avenue and Washington Place. Its Protestant architectural form belies its popish allegiance for good reason. Constructed in an era when anti-Catholic sentiments took the form of torching the local parish it was a safer bet to try and “blend in.”

Its present day mission is to be a beacon of truth on this maddeningly mercurial island of Manhattan. St. Joseph’s is certainly what keeps me wired into the Gospel via the skillful, earthy, and often entertaining preaching of the Dominican friars who hold court there. And I’m not the only one. When NYU’s in session the 6:00 p.m. Sunday mass is packed with 650 people, mostly students and young professionals. While the other masses attract a different crowd the quality of music plays a significant role in drawing all of the attendees back again next week.

Throughout the year there are orchestral performances open to the public, including the Washington Square Music Festival. Blessed with an easily accessible location and perfect acoustics it’s not surprising that musicians flock to it.

The latest musical edition–this pipe organ of “untold sum” is the bequest of long time parishioner Clare Sabatino. Built by the LeTourneau Organ Company in St. Hyacinth, Canada it is Ms. Sabatino’s way of honoring her father who played the harp for the New York Philharmonic. Since my musically-challenged word is hardly convincing my only advice is to come have a listen at the next concert or stop in on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when Bach, Mozart, and Byrd jockey for the honor of providing liturgical accompaniment. Latest concerts and events are listed at www.washingtonsquarecatholic.org. All are welcome.



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