Musical Artists Announced for 2023 Summer Concert Series at St. John’s Valle Crucis, Banner Elk, Junaluska Choirs, and Wild Blue Yonder Celtic Band

Last Updated on May 28, 2023 5:00 pm

VALLE CRUCIS, NC – There is a framed needlepoint artwork in the choir room at Holy Cross
Episcopal Church that reads, “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s
own speech.” While the author of that phrase is unknown, the revered saying could well be the
mantra for an upcoming series of musical concerts.

The line-up of artists has been announced for the popular Summer Concert Series at historic St.
John’s Church in Valle Crucis with monthly events planned from June 4 through August 6. A
summer mission of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, the picturesque chapel, consecrated in 1862,
is located in the Watauga County countryside and provides marvelous acoustics for music with
its wooden walls and floors forming a natural sounding board for live performances.

Celebrating its 12th Anniversary season in 2023, the concerts showcase some of the High
Country’s finest musicians along with regional artists of national prominence. Attendees linger
until sunset to mingle with the artists after their performance. All concerts begin promptly at 5
p.m., are approximately 60 minutes in duration and followed by a potluck supper. Admission is
free, but a suggested contribution of $5 will help the parish offset artists fees, with children 12
and under admitted free of charge.

On Sunday, June 4, the annual Singing in the Valle concert begins the 2023 summer series
with the vocal and hand bell choirs of Holy Cross Episcopal Church joined by singers from Banner
Elk Presbyterian Church. The venerable choral and handbell ensembles will perform both
individually and together as a combined group. The choir directors include Nina Allbert from
Banner Elk Presbyterian Church and Elaine Kallestad from Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle
Crucis. Organist David Soyars from the Banner Elk church will accompany the vocal artists.

According to Kallestad, the repertoire includes, “Music that spans the centuries, from the Middle
Ages of England to contemporary Christian composers. Choral pieces include a cappella works
by Richard de Castre, and African American spirituals, as well as accompanied anthems by
Handel, Pepper Choplin, Daniel Gawthrop, Wes Ramsey, Tim Sharp, and others.

“Handbell repertoire features a unique narration by Douglas E. Wagner, along with works by
Susan Nelson, and Margaret Tucker. Special musical guests include Scott Kallestad (saxophone)
as well as The Holy Smokes vocal trio. To round out the program, sing-along ‘old-time Gospel’
hymns make for a rousing good time!”

The Junaluska Gospel Choir from Boone Mennonite Brethren Church will present an evening
of spirituals and gospel favorites on Sunday, July 2, 2023. Nestled within the Junaluska
neighborhood, one of the oldest predominantly African American communities in western North
Carolina, the “little white church on the hill” has been home to some of the region’s most talentrich
gospel ensembles and over the years, the Junaluska Gospel Choir’s unique and eclectic
sound has evolved into a passionate blend of gospel styles.

Having performed at Boonerang and MerleFest and famous throughout the North Carolina High
Country for their passionate and uplifting performances in the Black Church and Old-Time Gospel
music traditions, the choir features singers who come from multiple generations of choral artists.
They will be joined by some of the region's best rhythm and blues musicians, and audience
members will find that it's nearly impossible to sit still during a choir performance.

Wild Blue Yonder, An Appalachian Celtic Band closes out the 2023 season on Sunday,
August 6, 2023. Per their press releases, “The Appalachian Celtic band Wild Blue Yonder takes
‘roots music’ to a whole new level, performing songs of Appalachia and the British Isles with
spirit and fire. Fiddle, whistles, bagpipe, mandolin, bodhran, banjo, bouzouki, and Celtic drums
blend to serve up a high-energy helping of Celtic tunes, as the group celebrates the rich Scots
Irish musical tradition of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each performance features a bit of Celtic
language, lore and attire.”

The band was formed in 1999 when musicians/songwriters Melissa Wade and Philip Coward
joined forces to share their love of mountain tunes. Adding fiddler Cindy Wallace to their ranks
in 2003, the group flourished in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, releasing three
CDs that showcased a variety of bluegrass, Gospel, Americana, and original songs. Wallace was
born in Mt. Airy and infuses the band with authentic Blue Ridge fiddling.

Attendees traditionally bring a dish to share during the potluck supper on the lawn that follows
every summer concert, with dozens of folks arriving early to begin the social aspect of the
evening’s festivities. Many audience members prefer to set up lawn chairs near the open
windows of the chapel and listen to the music as it resonates throughout the valley. All are
welcome as High Country residents mingle with newcomers and visitors to the melting pot that
is historic St. John’s.

St. John’s Chapel is located at 645 Herb Thomas Road, off Mast Gap Road in the Sugar Grove
community near Valle Crucis, NC. Signs are posted throughout the valley directing audience
members to the concert location. For more information, please visit the concert website at
www.holycrossvallecrucis.net or call 828.963.4609.

Back to top button