The needler in the haystack.

Friday, September 2, 2016

New music minister at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church


Clifford Parrish, Crescent Avenue's new organist adh
director of music ministries starts Sunday.

This Sunday will be the first service played by Plainfield's historic Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church's new director of music ministries, Clifford Parrish.

Here is a press release from the church that includes information on his background and experience --

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield is excited to announce its appointment of Clifford H. Parrish as Director of Music Ministries and Artistic Director of Crescent Concerts effective September 1, 2016.  This is a significant step forward in pursuing a program of music that continues the classic and time-honored traditions CAPC is well known for, while expanding its repertoire to include the finest in world music as well. Mr. Parish will oversee the church’s music program including directing the Chancel Choir and play the church’s 97 rank Gilbert Adams organ for worship services.  As Artistic Director of Crescent Concerts, now in its 35th season, Parrish will conduct the Crescent Choral Society in two concerts and the Crescent Singers in two additional concerts. For Crescent Concerts, he seeks to add  repertoire and expand partnerships with schools and other choruses as additional enhancements to the program. Parrish brings with him a long history of church and oratorio experience, and a strong passion for enabling choirs to lift the music off of the page.

When asked how the church was able to woo him out of retirement Parrish said: “I was drawn to Crescent Avenue because of its rich tradition of great music, with a well-trained choir.  The beautiful pipe organ is also a big plus, and I love the building.  After looking at the website, I was glad to see the many outreach programs.”  He continued, “I love that the building is used for so much music already, and will be looking for new ways and other groups to come and perform or join us to perform.  Besides the wonderful Sanctuary with is great acoustics, there are a number of other spaces that would be great for all different kinds of musical programs. “

Parrish began his work as a church musician at age 13, playing the organ, and gradually assuming choir leadership. In an over fifty-year career, he has served several different denominations, most recently as Interim Music Director for the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township and assistant organist at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit.  His vision for worship at CAPC is to continue the wonderful work that has gone always been a part of Crescent’s history, and to bring some new music to the church.  Parrish notes “I am a very eclectic musician, with a love for traditional Western European music, but also music that is intrinsically American, including southern harmony type hymns and spirituals.”

 As a music educator, he has taught at all levels, including at Bernards High School and Villa Walsh Academy as well as Fairleigh Dickinson and Rutgers-Newark Universities.  Also active in high school, college and community theater, he has received the NJ Association of Community Theater awards for direction and for music direction twice.  Shows at Villa Walsh Academy won several Rising Star nominations and awards during his tenure there.  As founding artistic director, he conducted Pro Nobis Chamber Singers for 25 years, leading all styles of choral music from Medieval through commissions.  The group was the resident chorus for Lyrica Chamber Music in Chatham for a number of seasons, and was also guest artists of the NJ Symphony at Waterloo. Parrish holds a degree in Music Education from Jacksonville University in his native Florida, and a Master of Music degree in Conducting from Westminster Choir College.  He resides in Bernardsville.

Pastor Lynn Santulli sees Parrish’s joining the staff as a positive step in the church’s evolving ministry.  She commented, "Engaging Cliff Parrish as our Director of Music is just one more element of exciting change I see occurring here at CAPC. The rich tradition of music is expanding to include the best in world music that can be found.  We are committed to partnering with other music programs to enhance the music offerings even more. This church continues to expand its outreach and care with an amazing food ministry program that includes a weekly Soup Kitchen that involves members of the community, local businesses and youth programs, as well as a weekday bag lunch. People think they know about CAPC, but they don't unless they have been here recently. The church is warm and friendly, open to everyone, excited about its future and dedicated to service and mission. We may not be for everyone, but in a world with so much hate and fear and judgement, it is an oasis of hope and love to those who wish for something better for this world. We actively try to make that happen, and it makes all the difference.  It is amazing to see what God continues to do and the changes we see in people’s lives."
Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Sunday service is at 10:15 AM. Parking in the church lot on First Place, on the street, or in the Swain Galleries lot.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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