First Presbyterian Church is beginning the sixth season of its excellent free concert series Music With A Mission. The series offers four concerts a year with local talent and regional performers paired with different charitable mission partners.

“We want to offer good music for the community, free of charge, and we also want to raise both awareness and funding for local nonprofits, so that’s why we try to do different nonprofits each year,” says Anne McNair, music director for First Presbyterian Church. “At the end of this year we will have supported 24 different nonprofits.”

Members of the church donate money to pay for the concerts so that they can be offered for free to the public. A collection plate is passed around at the end of each show, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to their mission partners.

The season kicks off Sept. 23 with a performance by Chamber Music Southeast, which will present an all-Leonard Bernstein program in honor of the legendary composer’s 100th birthday. The chamber group includes pianists Phillip Bush and Lynn Kompass, singers Tina Stallard and Jeffrey Jones, and clarinetist Joseph Eller.

“These chamber players are all fantastic,” says McNair. “They are all renowned performers who perform all over the world.”

Donations collected at the performance will go to Hope Academy, which offers English language classes for refugee women living in Savannah.

In November, the Armstrong Youth Orchestra, led by music director Lorraine Jones, will perform a concert to help support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The AYO program was founded in 2004 to offer young musicians from primary school to college an opportunity to perform in a full-sized orchestra. Funds raised at the concert will support Monteflores Presbyterian Church in San Juan, which hosts mission volunteers at La Casona de Monteflores.

December will feature a concert by Grammy-award winning baritone Kurt Ollman, who is pairing up with the Savannah Arts Academy Choir.

“This will be the fifth concert he’s put on for us,” says McNair. “He’s sort of become a yearly tradition in our series.” The mission partner for this performance is Court Appointed Special Advocates, which serves abused and neglected children going through the court system.

The season caps off in March with Seipp/Sheets Duo. Chuck Seipp and Randall Sheets perform frequently at Arlington National Cemetery and will present a concert of music for trumpet, organ and piano. Mission partner Abilities Unlimited offers exercise and fitness for those with physical impairments.

The series always offers a variety of different types of music. With chamber, orchestral and choral music on this year’s program, audiences can always expect something new at each performance. They can also expect to be exposed to the many wonderful nonprofits providing important services in Savannah.

“It’s been eye-opening for me to see how many nonprofits there are in Savannah doing excellent work in the community,” says McNair. “Some of our church members and other attendees have gotten interested in certain nonprofits and started volunteering there. I think the awareness aspect is as important as raising money for them.”



What: Music With A Mission featuring Chamber Music Southeast

When: 5 p.m. Sept. 23

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.

Cost: Free and open to the public; donations accepted for Hope Academy