James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Early Music Ensemble's Home of 30 Years Destroyed in Fire
Monday, October 03, 2016 - 10:44 AM
On Friday, a fire tore through part of the historic First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California. The cause of the three-alarm blaze, which caused part of the roof to collapse, is still unknown.
The news has deeply shaken the community. First Congregational Church is known as more than a house of worship. In addition to several community involvement initiatives, it is a center for music and the performing arts. It hosts the annual Midsummer Mozart Festival and several chamber groups throughout the year.
For more than 30 years, the church— affectionately referred to as “First Congo”— has been the home of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. The organization’s mission is to provide well informed-performances of early and baroque music. With period instruments and vocal techniques, the Philharmonia is able to capture a period-appropriate richness of sound.
The Philharmonia was scheduled to begin its season at First Congregational later this month, but leadership is working diligently to bring audiences the music they love at an alternate venue.
Our thoughts are with the First Congregational community and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra during their recovery.
Below is the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performing Henry Purcell's Dioclesian, "Triumph Victorious Love" at the church.