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Court Street Baptist Church to host New England Festival of Praise

Kathy Haley

Commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and sponsored by the Mark Thallander Foundation, the New England Festival of Praise will take place on Sunday, October 1 at 6 p.m. at Court Street Baptist Church of Auburn. The event will feature former Crystal Cathedral organist Mark Thallander; renowned pianist, vocalist, and composer Ken Medema; Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul organist Scott Vaillancourt; music minister, singer and host Kathleen Haley; the Prince of Peace Handbell Choir; and a choir comprised of Maine and New Hampshire singers. A free will offering will be collected. Court Street Baptist Church is located at 129 Court Street in Auburn.

Mark Thallander gives concerts and produces music festivals throughout the United States and around the world. After serving as organist at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, for 18 years, he lost his left arm in an automobile accident while vacationing in Maine in 2003. He responded by rearranging organ music so he can perform it with his two feet and right arm. His journey from the brink of death is chronicled in the book “Champions” and he was honored with the Crystal Cathedral’s annual “Life’s Not Fair, But God Is Good Award” in 2004.

Ken Medema has been described as “one of the most creative and authentic artists performing today.” Blind since birth, he has enthralled music lovers in more than 15 countries on four continents with his keyboard and vocal abilities, improvisation skills, and humor. In 1985, he started Briar Patch Music, an independent recording, publishing, and performance-booking organization, which he continues to manage with his wife of 52 years, Jane.

Scott Vaillancourt is the music director for the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, where he has overseen a restoration of church’s historic Casavant pipe organ. A composer, arranger, and teacher, he has taught for the University of Maine System and Bowdoin College, directed the University of New England’s band and chorus, and performed with the Bangor Symphony, Colby Symphony, Portland Symphony, Atlantic Chamber Symphony, Portland Brass Quintet, and Portland Opera Repertory Theater Orchestra.

Formed in 2013, the Prince of Peace Handbell Choir performs at mass and other liturgies several times each year. The group is comprised of a dozen musicians dedicated to making music that is pleasing to listeners and honoring to God.

Kathleen Haley is the music minister at Court Street Baptist. After graduating from Edward Little High School and the University of Southern Maine, she was a member of well-known bands The Chord Majority and Good and Plenty. She began her church music career at the Danville Union Church and served as organist and choir director for several southern Maine congregations. Today she serves as assistant director of the nondenominational regional choir Delta Heart and performs at venues such as Sawyer Memorial in Greene, the Poland Spring Inn and Resort, All Souls Chapel at Poland Spring, and at area celebrations, weddings, and funerals.

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