Do Savannnah

Trinity Concert Series grows in new season with larger concerts, charity aspect

  • Photo by Jon Waits
  • Photo by Jon Waits
  • Stephane Wrembel

Trinity Concert Series grows in new season with larger concerts, charity aspect

19 Sep 2017

Several years ago, Trinity United Methodist Church began opening its sanctuary to regular concerts, transforming the historic church on Telfair Square into a premier venue for live music in Savannah.

The Trinity Sanctuary Concert Series gave birth to the Thursday Night Opry and several other unique showcases over the years. The sanctuary has also been a host venue for the Savannah Music Festival and Savannah Stopover. It adds the Savannah Jazz Festival to that list this year, as well.

While the Sanctuary Series and Thursday Night Opry have focused on Americana, bluegrass and singer/songwriter genres, Trinity has seen everything come through its doors. From Argentinian rock band Capsula playing tribute to David Bowie, performing his 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in its entirety, to chamber orchestras gracing its hall, Trinity has hosted a constant stream of high-quality concerts.

This year, Trinity music director and series founder Jared Hall has taken his already ambitious vision and pushed it into a new era. The Trinity Sanctuary Series has expanded, with a focus on quarterly shows featuring everything from bluegrass virtuosos to gospel and a local singer/songwriter showcase.

Shortly after becoming the music director at Trinity, Hall was sitting in the balcony looking out over an empty sanctuary and decided he wanted to utilize the hall more frequently, while also reaching out to the community.

“I wanted the church to be a hub for more arts,” Hall said. “Being in the location, I wanted that space to be used more than just on Sunday morning, and during the [Savannah] Music Festival. The church jumped behind it and they’re all about it. The church has been there from the beginning to back it up, get it going. Now it’s at that stage where it needs to support itself. We want to get the larger acts, which require more capital, more money, and also support the locals, to pay them fairly to do a show.”

The Thursday Night Opry began with a donation-based system, which evolved into a $10 cover charge. About 80 percent of the money collected at the door or for ticketed events goes to the musicians, according to Hall. Some of that income also goes back into the church.

For the new season, Hall has added several new components to help the series grow and become more independent. A sponsorship program has been initiated, with four levels ranging from $150 to $2,500, with tickets awarded for donations. Tickets for the four scheduled concerts will be $20 apiece and are available for purchase online. The higher price will help the series become more independent of the church financially, as well as help sustain growth.

“We’re trying to grow,” Hall said. “As we look back, it’s time to grow or stay stagnant. Everyone felt like we wanted to grow and become a bit more organized. I feel like it’s an NPR showcase, I want to provide the opportunity for everyone to see all kinds of music, not just one genre. You’ve got jazz, to gospel, to bluegrass, to singer/songwriter. There’s no reason we can’t host a punk band in there (laughs). I don’t know if the space lends itself well to that, but whatever is appropriate. I feel like, I’d like the series to have that NPR feel to it, cross genres, but quality within that.

“If this goes well this year, I’d like to see an increase in shows next year,” Hall continued. “Even becoming more of a regular venue for touring artists coming through. It’s still a church, and it’s still active in other ways. If there’s ways we can fulfill artists needing that type or size of venue, I’d like to see us step up in the future.”

Hall has also added a charitable aspect to the series. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to a different nonprofit at each concert. This feature helps expand on Hall’s original vision of the series connecting with the community. Each nonprofit will also get a portion of tickets to sell on their own, further helping them to raise funds.

“I love presenting good music and presenting concerts,” Hall said. “The fact that we can give back to these groups that are so important to the community is great. Any way we can give back to these groups, not only financially, but make people more aware of them.”

This year’s series opens Sept. 21 with The Stephane Wrembel Band. Community radio station WRUU will receive a portion of the night’s proceeds. Wrembel is touring his new records, “The Django Experience I and II,” which feature his band’s interpretation of gypsy jazz great Django Reinhardt’s music.

On Oct. 26, local vocalist Trae Gurley will present “How Great Thou Art,” a recreation of Elvis Presley’s 1967 gospel album, which won Elvis a Grammy Award. Hall will join Gurley’s band for that performance. Loop It Up Savannah will be the night’s beneficiary.

Mile 12, a group of bluegrass virtuosos, will be joined by Savannah’s City Hotel on Nov. 15 for a night of bluegrass and folk music. Hospice Savannah will receive donations that night.

The Thursday Night Opry began as a monthly series, but then was cut back to quarterly series, of which the most popular shows were the singer/songwriter showcases. This year, there will be one Thursday Night Opry bookending the entire series on Jan. 18. Girls on the Run will be the beneficiary. Local singer/songwriter and Hall’s right-hand man Jon Waits is organizing the programming for the Opry.

In addition to the series, Trinity will also play host to the Explore Georgia Songwriter Series on Nov. 9, which will feature Anthony David, Kristina Train and Lulu the Giant.

“For people that are churchgoers, or non-churchgoers, there is no religious attachment to it. The series is for everybody. Trinity, itself, is for everybody. It’s a very inclusive place.”


What: Trinity Sanctuary Concert Series

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, Oct. 26, Nov. 15, Jan. 18

Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 225 W. President St.

Cost: $20



Sept. 21: The Stephane Wrembel Band to benefit community radio station WRUU

Oct. 26: Trae Gurley and Jared Hall to benefit Loop It Up Savannah

Nov. 15: Mile 12 and City Hotel on Nov. 15 to benefit Hospice Savannah

Jan. 18: Thursday Night Opry to benefit Girls on the Run