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Jazz in the Cathedral! ?


It is not uncommon to hear jazz, rock, or pop music in churches throughout the country, but in 1966, having jazz in a church setting may have been considered sacrilegious by some.  This letter,  from the Very Reverend C. Julian Bartlett, then Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, to Canon Harold Weicker of Trinity Cathedral addresses several issues regarding the original Duke Ellington sacred concert. When this letter was sent Ellington’s sacred concert had been commissioned Dean Bartlett a year earlier in 1965 and he explains the need to “set the tone” for the concerts as listeners will not be used to hearing jazz in the sacred cathedral space.

Even more importantly, Dean Bartlett explains that Ellington’s music is NOT jazz, rather “it is Ellington’s music, the like of which no one else plays!”–a sentiment echoed by Duke Ellington.

Listen to Arizona’s Bishop, the Right Reverend Kirk Smith, talk about alternative music styles in the Episcopal Church in the 60s.

Don’t miss Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert presented by Phoenix Chorale on November 12-13, 2016. Visit here for concert and special event information >

Blog content supported by Arizona Humanities and The Trinity Cathedral Records, Arizona Collection at ASU Libraries.