In West Hartford, Music at the Red Door returns for 2020-21

Nat Reeves of the Nat Reeves Quartet

WEST HARTFORD — Music at the Red Door, the music series at St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, announces a full program of live music for the 2020-2021 season, according to an email from organizers. Each of the 16 concerts will be livestreamed via St. John’s YouTube channel and on the St. John’s Facebook page, as soon as it is safe to do so, the series will welcome in-person listeners back to the spacious, acoustically vibrant sanctuary at St. John’s.

Each year, Music at the Red Door presents a wide array of musical and cultural events, including celebrity organ recitals and the Pipes Alive! organ series; choral and chamber music concerts; guest choirs and ensembles; and special events such as the annual Lessons and Carols service and in most years a major choral concert, Choral Music for the Soul.

Highlights of the 2020-2021 season include performances by internationally-acclaimed musicians such as organist David Hurd, violinist Leonid Sigal, and jazz bassist Nat Reeves; a year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Austin Organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church, including expansion of the Pipes Alive! organ recital series; and a continuation of choral favorites, such as Choral Evensong and the annual service of Lessons and Carols.

“Since we are not able to welcome music-lovers to the beautiful St. John’s building for live concerts during this time of social isolation, we invite everyone to join us online,” said Scott Lamlein, artistic director of Music at the Red Door and Director of Music and Organist for St. John’s. “We are hopeful that later in the season, we will be able to invite a live audience back to St. John’s, with all precautions are in place for a safe experience. In any case, we will livestream all events for the entire season.”

After the coronavirus pandemic closed down concert venues in March, Music at the Red Door launched a new online music series, with more than a dozen weekly “pop-up” recitals featuring local and regional musicians. The recitals attracted a wide viewership and raised much-needed donations for local agencies serving the homeless and hungry, who have been especially affected by the pandemic. The full 2020-2021 season will continue online.

“Though we miss having live audiences, we were delighted with the response to our ‘pop-up’ programs, and now we are pleased to be able to proceed with our annual series without missing a beat,” Lamlein added.

During the 2020-2021 season, Music at the Red Door will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the installation of the renowned pipe organ at St. John’s, built by Hartford-based Austin Organs. The instrument, known as Austin’s Opus 2761, resounds with 51 stops, 64 ranks, and 3,721 pipes. Since its installation in 1995, this remarkable instrument has been featured often in concerts and recitals, providing opportunities to share with the greater community the beauty and triumph of organ music.

“The pipe organ at St John’s is remarkably versatile in its range of color and sonic power,” said Lamlein. “Our year-long celebration of this instrument will include solo recitals by at least seven fine organists. We’ve expanded the popular Pipes Alive! recital series that features local artists, and we are especially thrilled that David Hurd, one of the most highly-respected of American organists, will offer a full-length solo recital on March 6.”

The Pipes Alive! organ recitals, a fixture at St. John’s since 2015, take place at 12:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of selected months. Performers in 2020-2021 include Zachary Schurman (Nov. 1), Scott Lamlein (Dec. 6 and Feb. 7), Kari Miller (Jan. 3), Carolyn Craig (March 7), Edward Clark (May 2), and Sean McCarthy (June 6).

The acoustic at St. John’s is particularly suited for chamber music. The season opens on Friday, Oct. 16, with a concert by the guitar-cello duo Boyd Meets Girl (Laura Metcalf, cello and Rupert Boyd, guitar). Chamber Music at the Red Door continues in the spring as Leonid Sigal, concertmaster of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, performs on Friday, April 16, with an ensemble he will select for the occasion. (The New World Trio, artists-in-residence at Music at the Red Door since 2017, will announce their performance dates later in the season.)

Jazz at the Red Door has become an annual tradition. In recent years, internationally acclaimed jazz bassist Nat Reeves and his band have collaborated with the Choirs of St. John’s to present thrilling programs of choral jazz. On Friday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m., “Nat Reeves and Friends” will return to Music at the Red Door for a program of instrumental jazz.

Though in-person choral music has been restricted during the pandemic, Music at the Red Door plans to present several modified choral events in the coming season. The annual service of Lessons and Carols will be given on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m., in a safe manner and livestreamed. An abbreviated series of Choral Evensong services will be offered in the spring, with music presented by the choirs of St. John’s or by guest choirs from across the region, singing in safe configurations and livestreamed. The services will be offered on the fourth Sunday of selected months, at 5 p.m. The choral ensembles will include The Anglican Singers, directed by Benjamin Straley (Jan. 24); the St. John’s Youth Choir & Guests (Feb. 28); the St. John’s Schola (March 28); and the St. John’s Youth & Adult Choirs (April 25). To ensure the health and safety of the musicians and audience, the annual large-choir presentation of “Choral Music for the Soul” will not take place this season.

Music at the Red Door also offers the Kids’ Community Music Camp each summer, a week-long program that introduces children to a variety of musical expression, from strings and piano to dancing and drumming, and fosters an appreciation for how music can nurture and connect. The program is directed toward children who may not have access to robust and inclusive music education. Though the 2020 camp was canceled, Music at the Red Door expects to hose the Kids’ Camp next summer, as well as during the winter and spring school breaks, as the public health situation allows.

Thanks to the generosity of the many individual donors and funders, all concerts presented by Music at the Red Door are open to all, with free will donations accepted.

No tickets are required for events at Music at the Red Door. Donations are gratefully accepted online at

All programs are subject to change. To receive news and updates, subscribe to the series newsletter at


Major Events

Friday Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m. — Chamber Music at the Red Door: Boyd Meets Girl (cello-guitar duo)

Sunday, Dec. 13, 3 p.m. — Special Event: Lessons and Carols

Saturday, March 6, 2021, 3 p.m. — Celebrity Organ Concert: David Hurd, organist

Friday, April 16, 2021, 7:30 p.m. — Chamber Music at the Red Door: Leonid Sigal, violinist

Friday, May 14, 2021, 7:30 p.m. — Jazz at the Red Door: Bassist Nat Reeves and Friends

Pipes Alive! Organ Recital Series

Half-hour recitals on St John’s renowned Austin organ. First Sundays at 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 1 — Zachary Schurman

Sunday, Dec. 6 — Scott Lamlein

Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 — Kari Miller

Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 — Scott Lamlein

Sunday, March 7, 2021 — Carolyn Craig

Sunday, May 2, 2021 — Edward Clark

Sunday, June 6, 2021 — Sean McCarthy

Choral Evensong

The St. John’s Choirs, Schola, and visiting choirs. Fourth Sundays of select months at 5 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 — The Anglican Singers, directed by Benjamin Straley

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021 — St. John’s Youth Choir & Guests

Sunday, March 28, 2021 — St. John’s Schola

Sunday, April 25, 2021 — St. John’s Youth & Adult Choirs

Each of these concerts will be livestreamed via St. John’s YouTube channel and on the St. John’s Facebook page; as soon as it is safe to do so, the series will welcome in-person listeners back to the spacious, acoustically vibrant sanctuary at St. John’s.

Connecticut Media Group