Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series

WELCOME TO THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON of the Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series at Westminster Church of Peoria.  The four events outlined below cover the 2017 Fall Season, September through December 2017.   There will be other concerts scheduled for the 2018 Spring Season, January through June 2018. 

This Series is made possible by a generous gift from the estate of Gretchen R. Iben, a devoted member of Westminster Church, and a great supporter of the arts in Central Illinois. With this series, we honor her life and work in this community. 

In the fall half of our season, we have two classical and two jazz offerings.  We hope you will find time to join us here in the beautiful acoustical setting of Westminster Church with its fine musical instruments for support. 

Christianity has always been a musical faith … beginning with the singing of the psalms to the traditional Jewish cantillation in the early church and continuing with Gregorian Chant in the Middle Ages, the great polyphony of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, the stirring masses of Mozart and Haydn in the seventeenth century, and on into contemporary times where composers as diverse as Charles Stanford, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky have added to the voice of praise in the church. 

Come and enjoy these concerts.  They are offered free of charge.  We receive an offering on the way out of the church, and if you are so moved, you are welcome to help support the series with your offering.  Any gifts $25 and above will be acknowledged in our Series Supporters page of each program.  Your generous gifts help to make more events possible each year and at the same time honor God, the creator of all beauty.  We hope this series will bless your heart and brighten your days.

Cordially yours,
Thomas Clark-Jones






September 10, 2017, at 4 PM

The 2017 – 2018 season of the Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series at Westminster Church will kick off with a concert of great Jazz for Two Pianos.  Derel Monteith of the Derel Monteith Trio will preside at one piano, and John Campbell, now a resident of Bloomington, but world famous as a professional jazz pianist, will preside at the other piano.  The exciting sound of two pianos is always a treat, and jazz in this form is most particularly attractive.  Derel and John will be joined by well-known Central Illinois artists, including Jason Bannon on drums, Andy Crawford on bass, as well as Larry Harms on reeds and the nationally known trumpeter David Hoffman rounding out the group.  But the focus will definitely be on the two pianists and their keyboard wizardry, bringing us traditional jazz tunes, popular music and a few standards, all to delight the listener.

This concert is a prelude to Westminster’s Jazz Vespers Services, which start up again for this season on Sunday afternoon, September 17 at four.  Each week David Hoffman and his friends from the Central Illinois Jazz Community bring first-class jazz as a worthy offering of music before God.  Some congregational songs are included, as well as prayers, scripture and a short homily by Pastor Denise Clark-Jones.  The roots of jazz are deeply embedded in the church, and in this service, we return this great American art form to the place where it started.  Come and join us … both for the concert on September 10 and also for the Jazz Vespers, which will run throughout the academic year.

Two Piano Jazz Program



October 27, 2017, at 7:30 PM

For the past six years, the voice of Ashlie Schlatweiler has graced the Choir of Westminster Church.  For the past three years, she has been a regular section leader and soloist … performing both of those functions with grace and distinction.  In August of 2017, she relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she has continued her music teaching career.  Before departing for the Big Easy, Ashlie spent several years teaching in the Peoria Public Schools, and also the Putnam County Schools here in Illinois.  She is a distinguished graduate of Bradley University and has been an active performer ever since graduating.  She will be assisted by Kinza Hagerup, who recently received her Masters in Collaborative Piano from Illinois State University.  Their program will include opera arias, art songs, and some surprises from the more popular literature.  Come and enjoy this fine soprano practicing her art here in the beautiful surroundings of the Westminster sanctuary.



December 10, 2017, at 4 PM

The Choir and Hand Bell Ensemble with Thomas Clark-Jones at the organ present 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 and nine lessons which outline the entire 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.  This year we offer choral carols by Peter Warlock, Michael Head, Herbert Sumsion, Richard Shephard, John Rutter and Stephen Cleobury.  The Hand Bell Choir opens the service with several seasonal selections to set the mood. Bells are simply deeply intertwined with the celebration of Christmas!  Here at Westminster, we choose to offer the service on the afternoon of Advent II, since so many have their own family Christmas gatherings on Christmas Eve afternoon.  This has become a tradition, and for many, this wonderful service truly marks the beginning of the Christmas Season. Come and be blessed by superb choral music and the congregational singing of the great carols of Christmas.

A festive Christmas meal follows the service at approximately 5:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the William R. O’Neill Parish House.  All are invited to join us, but we ask that you make reservations for this meal no later than December 1.  You may do so by signing the reservation form in the Narthex or by e-mailing the church office or calling the church office.

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols Program


December 17, 2017, at 4 PM 

For the third year, David Hoffman and his friends from the Peoria Jazz Community join together to celebrate the Christmas Season with Jazz hot and cool!  Many carols known to all will be arranged in superb settings for the Westminster Jazz Combo.  Original tunes by David Hoffman always adorn this great celebration along with more familiar songs.  In addition, a contemporary lessons and carols format combines contemporary poetry and readings from the scriptures in modern translations to complement the music and brings inspiration for the season.  This is always an uplifting afternoon and contrasts the more traditional service of the previous week to cover all the bases in the celebration of the Nativity.  Come and join David and his gang in this unusual Christmas celebration.  All are cordially welcomed.



June 1, 2018, at 7:30 PM  

Stephen Buzard, Organist of St. Janes’ Cathedral, Chicago, in concert.



coming events in the 2018 season . . . . . .


A Children’s Story Program featuring Garry Moore of NBC 25.
Stories and drumming and activities followed by refreshments.


A Welsh Hymn Sing for the community.
Welsh native, superb conductor and advocate of Welsh music, Mari Morgan leads.


Haydn: Organ Concerto in C and the Great Organ Mass.
The Choir and soloists of Westminster with Festival Orchestra.




These concerts are made possible by gifts from those who enjoy these concerts and by a generous endowment left to Westminster Church from the Estate of Mrs. 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.  The opportunity for a free will offering may be provided, but you do not need to feel that you must contribute.  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!

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 mark the memo … “Iben Series”.  All gifts $25 and above will be acknowledged in each of the season’s programs.