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Monday, May 1, 2017

Free 'Merrie Olde England' organ concert, May 3, St. John's, Lafayette Square

Thomas Smith

The organist and director of music at Church Church in Georgetown, Thomas Smith, will present a free recital of English organ music in a noontime concert Wednesday at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown D.C.

A Philadelphia native, Mr. Smith has degrees in organ performance and church music from Duquesne University and the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University
The concert is one of St. John's First Wednesday Concert series which shall conclude this year on June 7 with a performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by the U.S. Air Force Strings with trumpeter Mary Bowden.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie

St. John's was founded in 1815 and is known to Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square. It's often called the “Church of the Presidents” since beginning with James Madison who was president from 1809 to 1817, every president has attended services at the church. A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War. 

Benjamin Latrobe, known as the "father of American architecture" and the architect of the U.S. Capitol Building and the White House porticos, designed St. John's Church in the form of a Greek cross.  

The church bell, weighing almost 1,000 pounds, was cast by Paul Revere's son, Joseph, in August, 1822, and hung at St. John's that November where it has rung since. Wikipedia says two accounts report that whenever the bell rings on the occasion of the death of a notable person, six male ghosts appear at the president's pew at midnight and quickly disappear.  (Who are the six? Only male ghosts? Did they come out when Dolley Madison died in1849? Or, Rosa Parks in 2005?  Who's watching? This sounds like a great children's book.)

Dolley Madison, wife of President Madison, was baptized and confirmed at St. John's, according to the National Park Service, which calls the church "one of the few original remaining buildings left near Lafayette Park today."

Following tradition, President Donald J. Trump and his family began his presidency on the morning of January 20, 2017 with private services at St. John's.

For those on lunch break Wednesday, food trucks are located at Farragut Square, two blocks away.


A concert not to miss! 

Who:  Thomas Smith playing a recital of English organ music in "A Journey to Merrie Olde England"

First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., May 3, 2017

St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's director of music ministry and organist, 202-270-6265 or or 202-347-8766

June 7:  Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by the U.S. Air Force Strings with trumpeter Mary Bowden

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