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Jay Phillips Center to present ‘Echoes of the Divine’ concerts at SJU’s Emmaus Hall chapel

In a series of two concerts under the title “Echoes of the Divine: A Dialogue between Jewish and Christian Musical Traditions,” pianist Amy Grinsteiner and cellist Thomas Schӧnberg will perform classical compositions of musical traditions that are steeped in and convey distinctively Jewish and Christian religious themes and sensibilities.

Organized and sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, the series will take place on April 3 and April 20, each beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel in Emmaus Hall on the campus of Saint John’s University.

Funding for these concerts is provided by the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. Additional support comes from the Collegeville Institute, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University departments of music and theology, the Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary and the Jay Phillips Center for Interreligious Studies at the University of St. Thomas.

“Echoes of the Divine” was originally planned as a three-part series of one-hour programs, but due to blizzard conditions that caused the cancellation of the first concert scheduled for March 16, the April 3 and April 20 concerts will be 75-minute programs that incorporate some of the music that would have been performed in the concert that was unable to take place.

The shows are free and open to the public, and will be accompanied by conversations moderated by David Jordan Harris, an interfaith arts special consultant to the Jay Phillips Center.

“Music can be a potent meeting place between religious cultures, both as a fertile crossroad for the musicians and as an instructive and emotionally compelling bridge for audiences to experience another culture,” Harris said. 

“Religious traditions often turn to music to express the ineffable, the divine presence that suffuses the world,” he added. “These concerts lift up musical voices within Judaism and Christianity — and in some cases, the interaction of the two traditions.” 

The concert on April 3 will include works by J. S. Bach, Ernest Block, Max Bruch and Arvo Pärt. The concert on April 20 will feature works by Paul Ben-Haim, Isabella Leonarda and Felix Mendelssohn.

Grinsteiner is an associate professor of music at CSB/SJU, teaching studio piano, music through history and rock and roll music. She also serves as the faculty program coordinator at the Seattle Piano Institute, a summer program for aspiring young classical pianists at the University of Washington. She earned a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington. As a recipient of both the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Award and the P.E.O. National Scholar Award, she has traveled extensively, building appreciation for the arts. She was also the recipient of CSB’s Sister Mary Grell Teacher of Distinction Award in 2017 and currently chairs the CSB/SJU music department. 

Schönberg, a native of Sweden, earned a Master of Music degree from San Diego State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford where he was principal cellist for two school orchestras. He also served as principal cellist for the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra and has given numerous solo performances and cello/piano recitals throughout the world. Together he and guitarist Chris Kachian form The Arpeggione Duo and have performed hundreds of concerts and recorded five albums. Schönberg has been dean of three schools of music in Sweden and is currently a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute where he is working on “The Bach Book Project.” 

Harris, a graduate of the University of Chicago, is artistic director and co-founder of the Twin Cities-based performance ensemble Voices of Sepharad. Integrating his skills as a singer, actor, and dancer, he has appeared as guest artist with many ensembles including Zorongo Flamenco, Katha Dance Theatre, Corning Dances and Company, Illusion Theater, North Star Opera, Rose Ensemble, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Lyra Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble Espaῆol, and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. He was the founding music director of Shir Tikvah Congregation where he led music for 21 years and was the founding executive director of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council.

Amy Grinsteiner

Amy Grinsteiner

Thomas Schonberg

Thomas Schӧnberg

David Jordan HarrisDavid Jordan Harris