Craven Consort in Concert at St Andrew Lutheran Church

St Andrew Lutheran Church in New Bern, NC

The Podsquad caught up with Roger Bennett during our latest Living in New Bern and Beyond Show on December 8.

Mr. Bennett is a musician with the Craven Consort and was excited to tell us about their upcoming performance on December 19 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in New Bern.

He told us, “It’s going to be an instrumental consort. It’s a quintet — there are five of us, four woodwind players and one percussionist and we’re going to be playing very special music of the holidays, wonderfully arranged for our instruments. We have three recorders and a transverse flute and a home for our percussion. It will be a really fine program.”

It’s a fundraiser for the reopening of Craven Community Chorus. Mr. Bennett said the Chorus “has been on hold because of the pandemic. So, there will be a freewill offering taken for that. We would love people to come out because we’re playing very unique Christmas music. Everybody has heard the Christmas songs, but these have been wonderfully unusually arranged so it will be a really good program.

Roger Bennett
Roger Bennett

I asked him, how long has he played music, he responded, “Forever, it seems like, but I’ve been playing music here in New Bern since 1972. When I moved here, I had formerly been teaching in Ohio. And I came down here to start teaching at Craven Community College. Not music, by the way, but English, a dirty job, but somebody has to do. And I have had a group called the Craven Consort with a variety of players for many years. The group I have right now is a really active good group. And we’re also all members of the Craven Community Chorus as singers”. He explained they couldn’t practice as a group during the pandemic, but they got together as a smaller group to play their instruments.

He continued, “We did put a program last spring down at the Arts Council, Bank of the Arts. We have been giving a gift to New Bern since the pandemic every Friday night for the past year or so. We have played music in downtown New Bern, no charge. We put our hat out though, and sometimes collect enough bucks to have a coffee after it’s all over. We’ve enjoyed doing that.”

Mr. Bennett went on to say, “Some of you may know. Dr. Barbara Belón. She’s the one who helped organize this series of arts programs. You know, St. Andrew Lutheran suffered quite a lot of damage during Hurricane Florence. And only this fall have they been able to open their sanctuary completely. And it’s acoustically wonderful, quite beautiful. And is really a good place to spend this upcoming Sunday afternoon.”

A little history of the members, “I’m originally from Pennsylvania. And our players come from right here in New Bern, or Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania. Two of our players are from Pennsylvania and my wife, Elizabeth, is from Massachusetts. And our own Karen Ellenberger is from right here in New Bern. Her mother, Marilyn Johnson, is an organist. Now she’s retired, she was for many years, an organist at Centenary and Christ Church and a number of the downtown churches in New Bern. So, we bring a good deal of musical heritage into our get together.”

They’ve been participating at Artwalks’, he said, “we’ve done a lot of playing outside. Which is, was fun until it started to get chilly weather. But whenever there’s been an Artwalk downtown, we’re always downtown for that…We played music up and down the streets and in Bear Plaza. And at the little overhang near the ice cream store (Bear City Fudge). We were here and playing all the time.”

We’re looking forward to attending the upcoming performances that Dr. Belón is arranging. If you have any questions about the Craven Consort, call 252-269-4361.

By Wendy Card