Eight musicians to present varied music program to benefit asylum seekers

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BELFAST — The First Church in Belfast Social Justice Team presents a “Music for Asylum Seekers” concert, Sunday, August 18, at 3 p.m., in the church’s sanctuary.

The concert features local musicians and vocalists performing music by Gershwin, Bernstein, show tunes and others, with the highlight being a piano piece for 8 hands.

The concert is free-will with a suggested donation of $10, with the proceeds benefiting the asylum seekers in Portland.

All are welcomed.

The First Church is located on the corner of Spring and Court Streets in Belfast. For more information, call the church office 338.2282.


In early June more than 250 asylum seekers arrived legally in Portland from Africa, fleeing violence and persecution. Communities throughout Maine have contributed goods and monetary funds to help support these people while they negotiate the complicated process to secure residence in the U.S.

The Social Justice Team at First Church in Belfast will hold a benefit concert for these refugees on Sunday, August 18, at 3 p.m., in the church sanctuary. Eight musicians will present a varied program, including performances of music written for two pianos by George Gershwin, Arletta O’Hearn and John Phillip Sousa.

Pianists are Jon Burroughs, of Belfast; Amy Kercsmar of Unity; and Barbara Kemp, of Belfast.

Burroughs was the rehearsal and performance pianist at St. John Theatre in Reserve, Louisiana from 2006-2017. He now acts in Cold Comfort Theatre here and serves as a substitute pianist at First Church.

Kercsmar, teacher and freelance artist on piano and harp, holds a BA in music from Wheaton College Conservatory and in 2010 released her album Autumn Grace: Celtic Harp to Quench the Soul.

Barbara Kemp concertized extensively throughout her native Northern California in solo performances, a member of several orchestras, as chamber musician and in two piano recitals. In Baltimore she was an associate pianist with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra and gave two piano recitals with her piano partner throughout the D.C. and Greater Baltimore Area.

Flutist Maho Hisakawa, of Camden, has played with the Colby Symphony and Bay Chamber’s Odeon Adult Orchestra. She is the founder of Windfern Ensemble who play events throughout Maine all year long. She studies with Liz Downing and is pursuing a B.M. in music at UM. Orono. She and Barbara Kemp will play the jazzy Summer Music by Richard Rodney Bennett, a composer for film and television.

Vocalists are John Sage, counter tenor; Isaac Bray, baritone; Katelyn Parker-Bray, soprano; and Maggie Goscinski, soprano.

Sage sings with the Midcoast Community Chorus and currently studies with John Adams. Accompanied by Kercsmar, he will sing two folk songs arranged by Benjamin Britten.

Bray and Parker-Bray will share songs by Leonard Bernstein, the lyrics of which deliver a touching and heartfelt welcome to our asylum seekers, according to The First Church in Belfast, in a news release. Both singers have credits of performances with notable opera companies and as soloists with symphonies all over the U.S. that are too numerous to mention in this article, but will appear in concert program notes.

Parker-Bray holds a master’s degree from the Boston Conservatory. Bray is on the voice faculty at UM, Orono and directs the opera workshop there. They will be accompanied by Kemp.

Goscinski is a playwright and serves as Cold Comfort Theatre’s board president. She has also directed plays for the company. Her Hearts for Hire was a finalist in Rover Dreamworks’ 2018 one act play festival. She will perform songs from Godspell and by Rodgers and Hammerstein, accompanied by Burroughs. 

Event Date: 

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 3:00pm


The First Church in Belfast
Belfast  Maine
United States