Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series

We are pleased to present the offerings of the Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series for the coming season.  These concerts are made possible by a generous endowment from the estate of Mrs. Iben as well as gifts from those who enjoy these concerts and wish to see them continue.  Any gifts of $25 and over are acknowledged in each program of the series. Gifts large and small help to defray expenses and allow the endowment to stretch further and provide more programming each year.  Give as you are led, but don’t stay away if you do not make a donation … this series is for everyone … no strings …except those attached to violins, violas and cellos, of course!


Download 2016 – 2017 Event Schedule


Our 2016 – 2017 Series Schedule:

  • The KAIA String Quartet from Chicago, Friday, October 14, 2016, 7:30 p.m. 

kaia-string-quartetTake sixteen strings and attach them to four beautifully made boxes and add four talented young musicians, and you have a String Quartet. String quartet literature is among the most beloved of composers.  Its intimate style and almost limitless color possibilities give composers a tremendous palette with which to paint musical pictures.  These four young musicians …Victoria Moreria, Naomi Culp, Sixto Franco Chordá and Hope Shepherd bring to life some of the greatest music in the literature.  From classics of Beethoven to the dazzling Tangos of Piazzolla, these young people make their magic and promise to give us a very memorable concert.  The Westminster sanctuary is a perfect size for chamber music … so … what more can we ask?  Come. Enjoy.

  • Welcome All Wonders, Sunday, December 4, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

welcome_all_wonderDuring the Sunday morning service of December 4, the ministry of the Word will be in musical form.  A chamber group drawn from the choir along with baritone soloist Steve Williams will present Richard Shephard’s cantata “Welcome All Wonders”.  Shephard is a contemporary English composer (b. 1948) who has spent his career at York Minster in varying roles, including composer in residence.  The music is original but draws on ancient and traditional texts to present the Nativity Narrative.  There will be the usual first Sunday communion this week.  All are cordially invited to join us!

  • A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 11, 2016, 4:00 p.m. 

lessons-and-carolsThe Choir and Hand Bell Choir with Thomas Clark-Jones at the organ presents this historic service, sung annually by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, England on Christmas Eve afternoon.  It is a simple liturgy of prayers, nine lessons which outline the Salvation Narrative from the fall of Adam to the birth of the Heavenly King in the beautiful words of the King James Bible.  Interspersed with the readings are carols for both choir and congregation. Choral carols of Peter Warlock, David Willcocks, Healey Willan, Stephen Cleobury, John Rutter and others will be featured.  The Hand Bell Choir opens the service with several seasonal selections to set the mood.  For many, the Christmas season truly starts with this wonderful service. Come and be blest and sing the great traditional carols with us.

  • A Jazz Christmas, Sunday, December 18, 2016, 4:00 p.m. 

jazz-christmasDuring the academic year, the congregation of Westminster meets at four each week to worship with Jazz Vespers.  Renowned trumpeter David Hoffman leads a small combo in jazz standards and original compositions to the delight of the congregation and to the glory of God.  So, on this Sunday afternoon, we look to David and the gang to bring us carols of the season in their own unique style.  In addition, Pastor Denise Clark-Jones will read parts of the Christmas Narrative in contemporary language and bring some recent poetry to the mix and well.  It is an inspiring afternoon and worth your time!

  • Music for pipes and pipes! Has been postponed to the fall of 2017. 

music_for_pipesOn this first Friday evening in Lent, Organist Thomas Clark-Jones and soprano Ashlie Schlatweiler from the Westminster Choir join together on the pipes … Mr. Clark-Jones on the organ’s many pipes … and Ms. Schlatweiler on her own unique set of vocal pipes to present an evening of joyous music. The program will feature music of Bach, Handel, John Cook and Flor Peeters.  Ms. Schlatweiler will sing the “Mirror of Life” song cycle of Peeters, written expressly for soprano and organ.  Mr. Clark-Jones presents Peeters’ dramatic Modale Suite closing with a glorious Toccata.  All the pipes will be out and shining on this chilly evening in March!

  • An Evening of J. S. Bach, Friday, April 7, 2017, 7:30 p.m. 


Bradley University piano professors Dr. John Orfe and Dr. Chee Hyeon Choi come together in the Westminster Sanctuary to perform Bach Klavier Concerti for one and two keyboards.  Although conceived for the harpsichord, the concertos of Bach play so well on the modern piano one might surmise they were meant to be that way all along.  Of course, this attests to the power of the music itself … playing well on almost any instrument conceivable.  Each of the performers will offer a single keyboard concerto and then come together with a pair of concerti for two klaviers.  It is a sonic delight.  Dr. Orfe and Dr. Choi are both accomplished concert pianists.  They present concerts all over the country on a regular basis, and bring great honor and recognition to Bradley University and its faculty of music. The concerti are accompanied by a festival orchestra drawn from all the superb orchestral ensembles in the Central Illinois area. They will be under the direction of Thomas Clark-Jones, organist-choirmaster of Westminster.

  • Viva Vivaldi! Festive music of the Italian baroque, Friday, May 12, 2017, 7:30 p.m.

choirThe Westminster Choir closes their season with festive music from the pen of Antonio Vivaldi … the so called, Red Priest, because of his shock of red hair!  The choir presents a rousing setting of the “Credo” from the mass … a stand alone piece … not part of a larger mass setting … and the ever-popular “Gloria”. Ashlie Schlatweiler and Margaret McQueen are the soloists for the Gloria.  In addition, counter-tenor Johnathan Hudson from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania joins the festival orchestra in the deeply moving setting of “Stabat Mater” … the great Good Friday sequence hymn.  If you have never experienced the heavenly sound of a male alto … it is worth the bother to come just for this!  Mr. Hudson was trained at Appalachian State University in North Carolina and then at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  His ability to interpret this amazing literature is most compelling. Join us for a wonderful evening of music.

  • Dr. Susan Klotzbach … Bach Festival Opening Organ Concert, Friday, June 2, 2017, 7:30 p.m. 

organistDr. Klotzbach is the professor of organ at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and Organist of the Kennilworth Union Church in Kennilworth, Illinois. You will know her name as she has regularly played harpsichord and organ continuo for the Festival for many years.  Now, we highlight her prodigious talent in the opening recital of the Festival.  Susan Klotzbach received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters of Music in Organ Performance from the Eastman School in Rochester, NY.  Prior to that she received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Iowa.  She has worked as a tenured music faculty member teaching applied organ, harpsichord and church music courses at Houghton College and Carthage College before joining the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan.  Come and enjoy music of J.S. Bach on an organ made just for the interpretation of his music!


This series is made possible through a generous endowment left to Westminster Church by Gretchen R. Iben.  The church decided that since Mrs. Iben was a benefactor of the arts throughout Central Illinois, this gift should be used for an arts series in her honor.

All concerts and services are presented free of charge.  We may pass a plate, or have an offering plate at the door as you leave, but you do not need to feel that you must contribute.

A nursery for young children is available at all concerts and services.

If you wish to be a part of helping to defray costs of these concerts and thus make the funds available each year more plentiful, you may do so by writing a check to Westminster Presbyterian Church and making a memo … “Iben Series”.  All gifts $25 and above will be acknowledged in each of the season’s programs.