LARSON: Musicians cooperatively minister to community

Susan Larson

Susan Larson


What: Peachtree Symphonic Winds Benefit Concert

When: Thursday, March 29, 8 p.m. (hors d'oerves at 7 p.m.)

Where: McKendree United Methodist Church 1570 L'ville-Suwannee Rd.

Cost: Free, but suggested donation of $10 for Lawrenceville Coop

Info: 770-339-9801

When the Lawrenceville Coop says they are a cooperative ministry, they mean that in more ways than one. As with all the Gwinnett co-ops, local churches -- in this case 27 - work together to provide food and help with utilities for families in need. Volunteer helpers sort and distribute food, just like all the others. But some of these volunteers managed to orchestrate a ministry that is literally music to people's ears.

Elaine Schwartz, a coop volunteer whose husband and daughter play in the Peachtree Symphonic Winds and Peachtree Band of Jazz said, "The idea for the concert came up a few years ago at a band party when one of the members suggested the band get into more community events. I am on the board of the co-op, so I asked the director of the band, Allen Barbee, if the band would consider a benefit concert for the co-op. He conferred with board and the rest, as they say, is history."

On Thursday, PSW and PBJ will be performing their third benefit concert for the co-op. These bands both include professional musicians and music educators as well as some aspiring young musicians (which is yet another ministry, but I'll get to that later.) Led by Allen Barbee, a music teacher at St. Martin's Episcopal School in Atlanta who has performed with such big names as Ben Vereen, Bobby Vinton and Diana DeGarmo, the program with 65 musicians will include something for everyone from traditional to funk. And it's all free.

"The ensembles are dedicated to bring the arts and musical experience to the community," Board President Bob Schwartz said. "The members were touched by music and want to be able to bring that to others in the area, so offering free concerts allows us to reach more people of all ages and income levels."

But the outreach goes beyond the audience. PSW also mentors band students from Shiloh High School.

"We have had six to eight Shiloh band students playing with us for the last two seasons. One of the Shiloh students has been offered scholarships in music at two universities," Schwartz said. "By mentoring high school students, PSW is able to demonstrate to the younger generation that music can be an outreach for a life time."

For other talented people getting in on the act, Andy Phucas, a member of McKendree United Methodist Church where the concert will take place, has been instrumental in making sure everything backstage is in sync. Church members are preparing scores of hors d'oerves to serve before the concert. Although the event is free, a $10 donation is suggested and bringing canned goods is encouraged. All proceeds go to the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry.

The contributions of each individual, no matter how minor, are key to the success of this major event.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.


sarahldavis 3 years, 6 months ago

I put this on my calendar. You can learn about all kinds of interesting stuff reading Susan's column!


sarahldavis 3 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for writing about the Sounds of Spring concert last Thursday. I went and enjoyed it thoroughly! The Peachtree Band of Jazz was excellent, but my favorite was the Peachtree Symphonic Winds. All the pieces were really good, but they ended with one of my all time favorites, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition! You do a real service making people in the community aware of events like this.


Sign in to comment